San Diego Padres – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-09-22T23:02:11Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Jason Martinez <![CDATA[The Top Minor League Performers Of 2018]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132681 2018-09-19T01:00:00Z 2018-09-18T23:15:05Z Over at Roster Resource, I rank Minor Leaguers throughout the regular season using a formula that takes into account several statistics with age and level serving as important factors in how they are weighed. These are not prospect rankings!

This is how it works:

  • Hitters are mostly rated by total hits, outs, extra-base hits, walks, strikeouts and stolen bases.
  • Pitchers are mostly rated by strikeouts, walks, earned runs, home runs and hits allowed per inning.
  • A few counting stats are included (IP, plate appearances, runs, RBI) to ensure that the players atop the list played a majority of the season.
  • The younger the player and the higher the level, the more weight each category is given. Therefore, a 19-year-old with an identical stat line as a 25-year-old at the same level will be ranked much higher. If a 23-year-old in Triple-A puts up an identical stat line as a 23-year-old in High-A, the player in Triple-A would be ranked much higher.

A player’s potential does not factor in to where they are ranked. If you’re wondering why a certain prospect who is rated highly by experts isn’t on the list, it’s likely because they missed time due to injury (see Victor Robles or Nick Senzel), MLB promotion (Juan Soto) or just weren’t productive enough. While there are plenty of recognizable names throughout the MiLB Power Rankings Top 200 list, it’s also full of players who were relatively unknown prior to the season and have seen their stock rise significantly due to their performance. Here’s a closer look at the Top 20.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

Guerrero probably deserved to start his MLB career sometime between the debuts of NL Rookie of the Year candidates Ronald Acuña Jr. (April 25th) and Juan Soto (May 20th). All things being equal, that would’ve been the case.

But his call-up was delayed, mostly because third baseman Josh Donaldson was healthy in May and designated hitter Kendrys Morales was being given every opportunity to break out of an early season slump. As Guerrero’s path to regular playing time was becoming clearer, he suffered a knee injury in early June that kept him out of action for a month. When he returned, the Jays’ playoff chances had dwindled. Instead of adding him to the 40-man roster and starting his service time clock, they chose to delay his MLB debut until 2019.

You can hate the rule, but I’m certain Jays fans would rather have Guerrero under team control in 2025 as opposed to having him on the team for a few meaningless months in 2018 and headed for free agency after the 2024 season. And maybe it’s just me, but I kind of enjoy seeing what kind of numbers a player can put up when he’s way too good for his competition. And all this 19-year-old kid did was slash .381/.437/.636 with 20 HR, 29 2B, 37 BB, 38 K in 408 plate appearances, mostly between Triple-A and Double-A (he had 14 PAs during a rehab stint in the low minors).  Thanks for providing us with that beautiful stat line, Vlad Jr.

2. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros Astros Depth Chart

Despite a slow start—he had 21 hits in his first 83 Triple-A at-bats with one homer and 20 strikeouts— the 21-year-old Tucker showed why the World Champions were willing to give him a chance to take their starting left field job and run with it in July.

Tucker wasn’t quite ready for the Big Leagues—he was 8-for-52 in two separate MLB stints prior to a recent third call-up—but his stock hasn’t dropped one bit after slashing .332/.400/.590 with 24 homers, 27 doubles and 20 stolen bases over 465 plate appearances in his first season at the Triple-A level.

3. Luis Rengifo, SS, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

A 21-year-old shortstop just finished a Minor League season with 50 extra-base hits (7 HR, 30 2B, 13 3B), 41 stolen bases, as many walks as strikeouts (75 of each) and a .299/.399/.452 slash line. If the name Luis Rengifo doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably not alone. He kind of came out of nowhere.

The Mariners traded him to the Rays last August in a deal for Mike Marjama and Ryan Garton. Nine months later, the Rays shipped him to the Angels as the PTBNL in the deal for C.J. Cron. Based on those two trades, I can say without hesitation that the Mariners and Rays did not think Rengifo was this good. Not even close.

4. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

Lowe’s breakout season mirrors Juan Soto’s in one way: They both posted an OPS above 1.000 at two different levels before a promotion to a third. Soto’s third stop was in Double-A, and it was a very short stint before heading to the Majors. After destroying High-A and Double-A pitching, Lowe’s final stop of 2018 was Triple-A, where he finally cooled off.

Still, the 23-year-old has put himself squarely on the Rays’ radar. After homering just 11 times in his first 757 plate appearances, all in the low minors, Lowe broke out with 27 homers and 32 doubles in 555 plate appearances in 2018. His overall .330/.416/.568 slash was exceptional.

5. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins | Twins Depth Chart

We’re four seasons into the Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano era—both debuted during the 2015 season—and we can’t say for certain whether either player will even be penciled into the regular lineup in 2019. They could be still turn out to be perennial All-Stars someday. But you can’t blame Twins fans if they temper their expectations for the next great hitting star to come up through their farm system. And yet, that might be difficult with Kirilloff, a first-round draft pick in ’16, and last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Royce Lewis, after the year each of them just had. Both are moving up the ladder quickly.

The 20-year-old Kirilloff, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, was a hitting machine in his first full professional season. After slashing .333/.391/.607 with 13 homers in 65 games with Low-A Cedar Rapids, he hit .362 with seven homers and 24 doubles in 65 games with High-A Fort Myers. He also had 11 hits in the playoffs, including a 5-hit performance on September 5th.

6. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

All Bichette did during his age-20 season was hit 43 doubles and steal 32 bases while manning shortstop for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the 2018 Eastern League Champions. It’s unlikely that he’ll join Vlad Jr. in the Majors early next season, but he might not be too far behind.

7. Peter Alonso, 1B, New York Mets Mets Depth Chart

Alonso’s monster season (.975 OPS, 36 HR, 31 2B, 119 RBI between AAA/AA) ended in disappointment when he was passed over for a September promotion. As was the case with Vlad Jr., it didn’t make much sense to start his service time clock and fill a valuable 40-man spot during the offseason—neither Guerrero or Alonso have to be protected from the next Rule 5 draft—while the team is playing meaningless games. The 23-year-old Alonso did establish, however, that he is the Mets’ first baseman of the very near future, and they’ll plan accordingly during the upcoming offseason.

8. Touki Toussaint, SP, Atlanta Braves Braves Depth Chart

As tough as it will be to crack the Braves’ rotation in the coming years, the 22-year-old Toussaint has put himself in position to play a significant role in 2019 after posting a 2.38 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in 24 starts between Triple-A and Double-A. He’s also starting meaningful MLB games down the stretch as the Braves try to seal their first division title since 2013. After spending last October in the Arizona Fall League, where he followed up an underwhelming 2017 season by allowing 10 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings, he could find himself on the Braves’ playoff roster.

9. Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

The highest-ranked player to spend the entire season in Low-A, the 20-year-old Brujan slashed .320/.403/.459 while stealing 55 bases in his first crack at a full season league (27 games in High-A; 95 games in Low-A). He’ll still be overshadowed a bit in a deep Tampa Bay farm system that includes two of the best young prospects in the game, Wander Franco and Jesus Sanchez, but it’s hard to ignore such a rare combination of speed and on-base ability displayed by a switch-hitting middle infielder.

10. Michael King, SP, New York Yankees Yankees Depth Chart

The Yankees’ offseason trade that sent two MLB-ready players, Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith, to the Marlins cleared a pair of 40-man roster spots prior to the Rule 5 draft and brought back $250K in international bonus pool money. They also received King, who—whether anyone expected it or not—was about to have a breakout season.

After posting a 3.14 ERA with a 6.4 K/9 over 149 innings in Low-A in his age-22 season, numbers that typically indicate “possible future back-of-the-rotation workhorse,”  he looks to be much more than that after his 2018 performance. In 161 1/3 innings across Triple-A, Double-A and High-A, King posted a 1.79 ERA, 0.911 WHIP and 8.5 K/9. He was at his best once he reached Triple-A, posting a 1.15 ERA with only 20 hits and six walks allowed over 39 innings.

11. Taylor Widener, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks Diamondbacks Depth Chart

Unlike the trade to acquire King, the Yankees appear to have gotten the short end of the stick in a three-team, seven-player offseason deal with Arizona and Tampa Bay. They traded away Nick Solak to the Rays and Widener to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Brandon Drury, who was supposed to fill a short-term need for infield depth.

While Drury was a bust in New York—he had nine hits in 51 at-bats before being traded to Toronto in a July deal for J.A. Happ—Solak, a second baseman/outfielder, put up terrific numbers in Double-A (.834 OPS, 19 HR, 21 SB) and Widener has emerged as one of the better pitching prospects in the game. The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 2.75 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 11.5 K/9 over 137 1/6 innings with Double-A Jackson.

12. Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres Padres Depth Chart

The offseason signing of first baseman Eric Hosmer certainly didn’t bode well for Naylor’s future with the Padres. Whether he had an MLB future at all, however, was already in question. First base prospects can’t just be good hitters. They need to mash, which is far from what Naylor did in 2017 (.761 OPS, 10 HR between Double-A and High-A). But a 20-year-old holding his own in Double-A is still interesting, nevertheless. So it was worth paying attention when he hit .379 with seven homers, five doubles, 13 walks and 12 strikeouts in April. He also spent most of his time in left field in 2018, adding a bit of versatility to his game.

Although April was his best month, by far, he still finished with an impressive .297/.383/.447 slash line. He’ll enter 2019 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A who has flashed some power (17 HR, 22 2B in 574 plate appearances) and above-average plate discipline (64 BB, 69 K).

13. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

Unlike the Jays and Mets, who had multiple reasons to keep Guerrero and Alonso in the Minors until 2019, the Sox’s decision to bypass Jimenez for a September call-up was more questionable.

Already on the 40-man roster and without much to prove after slashing .337/.384/.577 with 22 homers and 28 doubles between Triple-A and Double-A, Jimenez’s MLB debut appeared imminent as September approached. But White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, citing Jimenez’s need to improve his defense, confirmed in early September that he would not be called up. Of course, the 21-year-old probably would’ve benefited greatly from playing left field in the Majors for 20-25 games in September. And, of course, Hahn is just doing a good job of not saying the quiet part out loud: Eloy under team control through 2025 > Eloy under team control through 2024.

14. Dean Kremer, SP, Baltimore Orioles Orioles Depth Chart

After posting a 5.18 ERA in 2017, mostly as a relief pitcher in High-A, Kremer’s stock rose quickly with a full-time move to the starting rotation in 2018. In 16 starts for High-A Rancho Cucamonga, the 22-year-old right-hander posted a 3.30 ERA with a 13.0 K/9. After tossing seven shutout innings in his Double-A debut, the Dodgers included him as a key piece in the July trade for Manny Machado. Kremer continued to pitch well with Double-A Bowie (2.58 ERA, 45 1/3 IP, 38 H, 17 BB, 53 K) and now finds himself on track to help a rebuilding Orioles’ team in 2019.

15. Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals Royals Depth Chart

Lopez started to turn some heads during last offseason’s Arizona Fall League, and it carried over into 2018 as he slashed .308/.382/.417 with nine homers, 15 stolen bases and more walks (60) than strikeouts (52) between Triple-A and Double-A.  It’s a sign that the 23-year-0ld’s bat is catching up with his stellar defense and that he’s closing in on the Majors, where he could team with Adalberto Mondesi to form one of the better young middle infield duos in the game.

16. Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins Twins Depth Chart

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft didn’t disappoint in his first full professional season, posting an .853 OPS, nine homers, 23 doubles and 22 stolen bases in 75 Low-A games before a 2nd half promotion to High-A Fort Myers. He didn’t fare quite as well (.726 OPS, 5 HR, 6 SB in 46 games), but he did hit three homers in the playoffs to help his team win the Florida State League championship. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the if he reached Double-A early next season as a 19-year-old with a jump to the Majors in 2020 not out of the question.

17. Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

Throwing a 100 MPH fastball isn’t as rare as it used to be, but Kopech has reportedly touched 105 MPH, putting him in a class of his own. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old right-hander is expected to join a long list of pitchers who have had their careers interrupted by Tommy John surgery after he was recently diagnosed with a torn UCL.

The timing isn’t great, as Kopech had just arrived in the Majors in late August and would’ve likely been a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year in 2019. Still, he’ll only have to prove that he’s back to full health before he returns to the Majors—he should be ready to return early in the 2020 season— after making a strong impression in Triple-A with a 3.70 ERA and 12.1 K/9 in 24 starts.

18. Kevin Smith, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

Not only do Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio likely form the best trio of infield prospects in the game, two are sons of Hall of Famers—Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Craig Biggio, and Bichette’s dad, Dante, was also pretty good. And yet, another Blue Jays infield prospect with a very ordinary name and without MLB lineage managed to stand out. The 22-year-old finished the season with 25 homers, 31 doubles, 29 stolen bases and a cumulative .302/.358/.528 batting line between High-A and Low-A.

19. Gavin Lux, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers Dodgers Depth Chart

The former first-round pick wasn’t overly impressive in his first full Minor League season in 2017, slashing .244/.331/.362 with seven homers and 27 stolen bases for Low-A Great Lakes. A move to the hitter-friendly California League in 2018, however, seemed sure to give his offensive numbers a boost. It did. Lux had a .916 OPS and 41 extra-base hits in 404 plate appearances, but he also didn’t slow down once he reached the upper minors late in the year.

In 28 regular season games with Double-A Tulsa, the 20-year-old Lux slashed .324/.408/.495 with four homers in 120 plate appearances. It didn’t end there. Over an eight-game playoff run, the left-handed batter went 14-for-33 with five multi-hit games.

20. Patrick Sandoval, SP, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

Acquiring the 21-year-old Sandoval from the Astros for free agent-to-be catcher Martin Maldonado could turn out to be the steal of the trade deadline. While the lefty didn’t stand out in Houston’s deep farm system, he was having a strong season at the High-A and Low-A levels at the time of the trade (2.56 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in 88 innings). The change of scenery didn’t affect him one bit as he tossed 14 2/3 shutout innings in the California League before finishing the season with four impressive Double-A starts (19 2/3 IP, 3 ER, 27 K).

Power Ranking Leaders By Level

Triple-A
Hitter: Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
Starting Pitcher: Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
Relief Pitcher: Ian Gibaut, Tampa Bay Rays

Double-A
Hitter: Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
Starting Pitcher: Taylor Widener, Arizona Diamondbacks
Relief Pitcher: Matt Pierpont, Colorado Rockies

High-A
Hitter: Colton Welker, Colorado Rockies
Pitcher: Emilio Vargas, Arizona Diamondbacks

Low-A
Hitter: Chavez Young, Toronto Blue Jays
Pitcher: Jhonathan Diaz, Boston Red Sox

Short-Season A
Hitter: Tyler Freeman, Cleveland Indians
Pitcher: Jaison Vilera, New York Mets

Rookie 
Hitter: Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
Pitcher: Joey Cantillo, San Diego Padres

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[NL Notes: Harper, D-Backs, Buchholz, Senzel, DeGrom]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132775 2018-09-14T05:31:33Z 2018-09-14T05:31:33Z As ever, there’s plenty of water-cooler chatter about the eventual destination of Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, who — had you not heard? — is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. Particularly for fans of a Nats organization that is just weeks away from wrapping up a brutally disappointing campaign, it’s a subject of much attention. So eyebrows were raised recently at comments from Harper and, especially, club president of baseball ops/GM Mike Rizzo that could be interpreted as hinting at a reunion. In an appearance on MLB Network (Twitter link), Harper at least acknowledged a reunion is possible, saying that “it’s going to be an exciting future for the Nationals, and we’ll see if I’m in those plans.” Innocuous enough, to be sure, but perhaps the line could be interpreted as a wink toward contract talks. As for Rizzo, Chris Lingebach of 106.7 The Fan rounded things up. Those interested in parsing the words fully should click the link, but the key phrase at issue from Rizzo is his statement that he “won’t discuss [negotiations with Harper’s camp] until there’s something to announce.” Did the tight-lipped, hard-nosed GM tip his hand? It’s at most an arguable point.

From this vantage point, there’s enough here to make you think, but hardly a clear indication as to how Harper’s fascinating free agency will turn out. Here’s the latest from the National League:

  • The Diamondbacks had held a strong position in the postseason race for much of the season, but as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes, they’re now left hoping for a memorable late-season comeback to get in. “[B]reakdowns occurring in every facet of their game,” Piecoro writes, have spurred a ghastly 4-16 run that has reversed the team’s fortunes. Unfortunately, odds are that the Arizona club will head back to the drawing board at season’s end — while watching two significant players (A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin) hit the open market. Still, it’s notable that the club has largely followed up on its successful 2017 campaign, as the thought in some quarters entering the year was that there wasn’t really enough talent to keep pace.
  • As is also covered in the above-linked piece, the D-Backs suffered an unwelcome blow in advance of tonight’s loss when they were forced to scratch righty Clay Buchholz. The veteran hurler has been an immense asset for Arizona, throwing 98 1/3 innings of 2.01 ERA ball since joining the club in mid-season as a minor-league signee. He’s now headed to Phoenix for testing, though the hope still seems to be that he’ll return this year. Regardless, it’s unfortunate news for the team but even more disappointing for the 34-year-old, who has dealt with plenty of health problems of late and will be reentering the open market at season’s end.
  • It has long been wondered what the Reds Baseball America points outwill do when they are ready to call up top prospect Nick Senzel, who’s blocked at his natural position of third base. We may be seeing the hints of an answer; as , Senzel is listed as an outfielder in the organization’s instructional league roster. That hardly guarantees anything, of course, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Senzel — who’s opportunity for a late-2018 callup was taken by a finger injury — come into camp in 2019 looking to crack the roster in the corner outfield. Just how it’ll all play out, though, remains to be seen.
  • Speaking of top prospects … among his many notes today, Jon Heyman of Fancred writes that the Mets took a targeted approach to discussions with other teams regarding ace righty Jacob deGrom. As Heyman puts it, the New York organization “focused” on the handful of clubs it deemed to have assets worth haggling over. When those teams weren’t willing to give up their best young assets, talks sputtered. Heyman cites “the Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Yankees, and perhaps to a lesser extent the Brewers” as clubs that were engaged. But the ultra-premium prospects and young MLB players in those organizations simply weren’t on offer. It’s hard to argue with the Mets’ rationale; deGrom reached a new level this season, after all, and certainly shouldn’t be parted with by a major-market club for less than a compelling return.
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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Could Reyes Emerge As Trade Chip?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132715 2018-09-13T00:40:11Z 2018-09-13T00:40:11Z
  • Dennis Lin of The Athletic takes stock of the Padres’ wide-ranging slate of Major League debuts in 2018 (subscription required), noting that 14 different players got their first taste of the Majors in San Diego this season. (Francisco Mejia, who came to the Friars with just 14 career plate appearances, is effectively receiving his first MLB audition as well.) While the results have varied, 2018 gave Friars fans their first look at a number of potential building blocks, including Luis Urias, Mejia and Joey Lucchesi, among others. Notably, Lin speculates that given the Padres’ wealth of outfield options and questions surrounding Franmil Reyes’ glovework, he could become a trade chip in talks with American League clubs this winter. The 23-year-old has batted .265/.316/.525 through 215 plate appearances this season, including a monstrous .313/.365/.635 slash with nine homers and a dramatically improved strikeout rate since being recalled from the minors on Aug. 5 (104 PAs).
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Luis Urias Unlikely To Return In 2018 After Hamstring Injury]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132699 2018-09-12T16:36:08Z 2018-09-12T16:36:08Z The Padres do not expect recently promoted infield prospect Luis Urias to return to action this season after suffering a hamstring injury last night, as MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell reports. Though the full extent of the injury isn’t yet known, San Diego skipper Andy Green says it already seems “doubtful” Urias will make it back in 2018.

    Clearly, with just over two weeks left to play, there isn’t a lot of time remaining to make it back onto the field. Most importantly, the Friars will want to be sure not to push a critical young player too hard at this late stage of a noncompetitive season.

    Urias won’t turn 22 until next June, but he forced his way onto the MLB roster recently with another quality showing in the upper minors. In his 533 Triple-A plate appearances this season, Urias hit a career-high eight home runs and slashed an impressive .296/.398/.447.

    Of course, Urias hasn’t been quite as impressive in his very first attempt at major-league pitching. In a dozen games, he has produced a .208/.264/.354 slash with two home runs and an uncharacteristic mix of ten strikeouts and just three walks.

    That limited showing doesn’t detract from Urias’s lofty promise. And it’s certainly not going to prevent him from competing for a MLB job in camp next year. Still, that less-than-compelling output matters somewhat to his near-future roster outlook. Particularly if the hammy tweak sidelines Urias the rest of the way, he arguably will not have shown enough to lock up a starting role in advance of Spring Training.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Padres Could Move Myers Between Positions In 2019]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132559 2018-09-09T18:33:45Z 2018-09-09T18:33:45Z
  • With Wil Myers still very much a work in progress at third base, “the Padres seem to be leaning toward moving” Myers between positions in 2019 rather than make him a full-time option at the hot corner, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes.  Myers has spent much of his six MLB seasons at first base or right field, though he has also played multiple games as a center fielder (33 starts), left fielder (28 starts) and third baseman (18).  Of course, he has yet to provide much defensive value wherever he has played, though if Myers is at least a passable option at multiple positions, the Padres can shift him around the diamond every day while opening up playing time for others.  For his part, Myers feels he is making progress at his latest position and feels he can still contribute to the team as a primary third baseman.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Padres To Promote Francisco Mejia]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132285 2018-09-04T21:02:07Z 2018-09-04T21:02:07Z The Padres are set to promote top prospect Francisco Mejia from Triple-A El Paso, per Dennis Lin of The Athletic (Twitter link). MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell adds that while Mejia could eventually be shifted back and forth between catching and the outfield, he’s been catching in El Paso this season and will be used as a catcher in the month of September with the Padres.

    Mejia, 22, was the lone prospect traded from Cleveland to San Diego in the July deal that sent both Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to the Indians. He’s long rated as one of the game’s top overall prospects and entered the 2018 campaign as a consensus top 20 all-around minor leaguer. While he had a solid but unspectacular run with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate this season, he’s exploded for a .328/.364/.582 slash with seven homes, eight doubles and a triple in just 132 PAs with the Padres’ top affiliate since the trade.

    The arrival of Mejia in San Diego will give the Padres a pair of catchers who were highly touted as prospects, though certainly Austin Hedges’ bat remains a work in progress. Hedges has improve upon last year’s overall production but is still hitting just .239/.292/.422 through 271 trips to the plate in 2018. Hedges is regarded as a premier defender behind the dish, though, even if his 22 percent caught-stealing rate is uncharacteristically low in 2018. The 26-year-old ranks as one of the game’s better pitch framers and sits 10th among MLB catchers in Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average this season, even in spite of his unusual throwing troubles.

    The San Diego front office likely views the presence of both Hedges and Mejia as a good problem to have. Neither will be expensive in 2019. Mejia, of course, will be a pre-arbitration player while Hedges will receive a small but notable bump in pay as a Super Two player in arbitration. It’s possible that the pair could shoulder the bulk of the Padres’ work behind the plate for years to come, with Hedges serving as a glove-first option with power but middling OBP skills, while Mejia provides a bat-first option with a terrific arm but a lesser all-around defensive reputation.

    Mejia does already have a slight bit of MLB experience under his belt, having logged 12 games with the Indians from 2017-18 (just one this year). He’s totaled just over a month of big league service time and will finish out the season with roughly 60 days of big league service. That’ll keep him from reaching Super Two status in arbitration if he’s in the big leagues to stay. Currently, he projects to reach arbitration eligibility following the 2021 season, and he’d reach the open market as a free agent following the 2024 season. Further time spent in the minors could yet push that trajectory back, but it appears that he’ll be given the opportunity to prove that he’s learned all he has to learn at the minor league level.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Francisco Mejia Drops Lawsuit Against Big League Advance]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132253 2018-09-04T16:55:18Z 2018-09-04T16:55:18Z Padres prospect Francisco Mejia has dropped his lawsuit against the prospect investment firm known as Big League Advance, as ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick recently reported. He had filed suit in April seeking to be released from his contractual relationship with BLA.

    Mejia, who is considered a top-flight prospect, was dealt from the Indians to the Padres over the summer. He has seen only brief MLB time, and hasn’t yet cracked the big leagues with the Friars, but has turned in a strong .293/.338/.471 hitting performance at the Triple-A level this season.

    Accordingly, Mejia still hasn’t earned much money in the majors but could well turn into a high-dollar player. With the end of this litigation, Big League Advance stands to receive a ten-percent cut of Mejia’s MLB earnings — the amount that the sides had evidently agreed upon in a series of contracts. To achieve that interest in Mejia’s future, BLA provided him a total of $360K while he was playing in the low minors.

    Whatever one thinks of the business model, former MLB hurler and BLA CEO Michael Schwimer undeniably comes away from this episode with a clear win. Mejia not only disclaimed his prior accusations in his statement, but apologized to and even issued a glowing endorsement of Big League Advance.

    Had this lawsuit been meritorious, it might have posed some problems for BLA’s burgeoning business. Instead, the outfit will not only continue to draw a piece of the salary of contracted players who are already in the majors, but will perhaps increasingly factor in the ever-evolving transactional landscape.

    As ever, most minor-leaguers play on meager incomes. While some achieve major bonuses at the outset of their careers, the majority get by without the benefit of significant up-front cash. Though early-career extensions increasingly represent a potential source of relatively early-in-time income, that’s a route that’s only available to the highest-regarded talent and that also means sacrificing earning upside.

    Given those factors, it is not difficult to see how BLA might occupy some of the space here. Indeed, so long as the business is fairly operated, it may function in effect to spread the benefits of MLB earnings to many young players, only some of whom will achieve the full and final promise of millions in salary, without capping any individual player’s future earning capacity. (Needless to say, a sizeable chunk of change will also be expected to flow to BLA and its investors.)

    There are many ways in which this approach could impact the broader market, too, if BLA (and, potentially, competitors) increasingly provide up-front money to pre-MLB players. It’s also a somewhat murky and potentially complicated contractual situation to introduce, particularly if a player’s interests ultimately fall out of alignment with the financial priorities of BLA. Needless to say, it’s a fascinating new realm to keep an eye on.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Clayton Richard To Undergo Knee Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131589 2018-08-29T01:55:20Z 2018-08-29T00:45:48Z Padres lefty Clayton Richard was placed on the disabled list earlier today due to inflammation in his left knee, and manager Andy Green now tells reporters that Richard is headed for season-ending surgery to alleviate discomfort that he’s pitched through since April (Twitter links via MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell and the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee).

    Richard, 35 next month, pitched to a respectable 4.43 ERA (4.18 FIP, 4.06 xFIP) with 6.9 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.80 HR/9 and a 57.9 percent ground-ball rate through 124 first-half innings this season. However, his 2018 campaign has gone off the rails in a miserable second half that has seen him (perhaps literally) limp to an 8.57 ERA with 4.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, a whopping 2.80 HR/9 and a 53.5 percent grounder rate. Richard is far from a flamethrower, but a look at his season-long velocity charts show that his fastball has dropped in the month of August as well.

    Richard is earning a $3MM base salary in 2018 as part of the two-year, $6MM extension he signed with the Padres late last season, and he earned a pair of $250K bonuses for crossing the 125-inning and 150-inning thresholds. He’s under contract for the 2019 season as well at that same $3MM rate and will once again have up to $1.5MM worth of incentives available to him — though he’d need to reach the 200-inning mark for the first time since 2012 in order to do so.

    The Padres will likely look to Richard as a stabilizing innings eater in their rotation once again in 2019. While some of their promising young arms have begun to surface at the MLB level — Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer and Jacob Nix are among the team’s prospects to debut this season — there’s still a need for a bridging presence while that trio looks to establish themselves. Meanwhile, promising arms like MacKenzie Gore, Chris Paddack, Logan Allen, Cal Quantrill, Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez (among others) continue to work their way toward San Diego as the Padres’ front office eyes aims to compile a homegrown core of arms around which to build.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Padres Promote Luis Urias]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131503 2018-08-28T21:41:51Z 2018-08-28T21:41:53Z Aug. 28: The Padres have formally announced Urias’ promotion to the Majors. Asuaje has been optioned to Triple-A to open a spot on the active roster. San Diego has also placed lefty Clayton Richard on the 10-day disabled due to inflammation in his left knee and activated right-hander Colten Brewer from the disabled list in his place.

    Aug. 27: The Padres are set to promote highly regarded infield prospect Luis Urias, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He is expected to debut tomorrow.

    Urias, 21, is widely considered one of the crown jewels of a Padres system that, the organization has long hoped, will usher in a golden age of baseball in San Diego. There’s a clear consensus that he’s one of the most promising young players in baseball, with outlets such as Fangraphs (#22), MLB.com (#22), and Baseball America (#29) rating him among the game’s thirty or so best prospects.

    There’s a lot to like about Urias’s potential as a hitter. He features a rare combination of plate discipline and contact ability that has allowed him to hit over .300 while carrying nearly a .400 OBP over his five minor-league seasons. Power isn’t a strong suit, though Urias has increased his home-run output over recent campaigns and this year has put the ball over the fence eight times in 533 plate appearances.

    It seems fair to note, too, that Urias has the kind of underlying skills that could allow him to come into more power at the game’s highest level. In recent years, we’ve seen several players — Jose Altuve, Francisco Lindor, and Jose Ramirez among them, to take a few famous examples — develop surprising pop after reaching the bigs. Whether or not Urias is destined for that kind of outcome obviously isn’t yet known, but it seems notable that MLB.com credits him with more raw power than his outcomes indicate while BA cites Urias’s impressive exit velocity.

    To be sure, Urias would likely generate even greater excitement if he was considered a future shortstop. Still, he is also valued for his defensive potential. Most evaluators indicate that he’ll likely be a high-quality defender at second base. It doesn’t hurt that he’s considered at least capable of playing shortstop as well; indeed, Acee says that Urias will get some time there upon his arrival.

    For the Padres, this promotion offers an opportunity to get a look at a player who’s expected to hold down an important role for years to come. Urias will not accrue enough service time this year to put himself on track for future Super Two status. If he stays in the majors from here on out, he won’t be eligible for free agency until at least 2025. Picking up thirty-plus days of MLB action will make it a bit harder for the Friars to hold Urias down to open the 2019 season in hopes of extending the team’s control rights.

    If he shows well upon his arrival, Urias will likely enter camp next year as the odds-on favorite to open the season as the regular second baseman. San Diego has not received much production from its options at the position thus far in 2018, after all, so the organization is no doubt anxious to plug in a permanent piece. Jose Pirela, Carlos Asuaje, and Cory Spangenberg have all failed to take advantage of opportunities at second this season.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Christian Villanueva Headed To DL With Broken Finger]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131158 2018-08-23T04:12:34Z 2018-08-23T04:12:34Z
  • Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva has been diagnosed with a fractured finger and is headed to the 10-day disabled list, tweets AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. Villanueva wasn’t in today’s lineup due to some swelling in his hand after taking a tough grounder yesterday, and further testing appears to have revealed the fracture. A corresponding move will be announced tomorrow. It’s not clear how long Villanueva will be out. The 27-year-old Villanueva has utterly demolished left-handed pitching this season, hitting at an absurd .336/.392/.736 clip with 14 home runs through 113 plate appearances when holding the platoon advantage. Unfortunately, he’s mustered a feeble .189/.255/.319 slash against right-handed opponents.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[West Notes: Beltre, Maeda, Dodgers Pen, Franmil]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=130719 2018-08-17T03:46:37Z 2018-08-17T03:46:37Z Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre doesn’t seem to believe his latest hamstring injury is a particularly significant one, but nevertheless says it is impacting his thinking as he weighs whether to play another season. As Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes, Beltre emphasized that the hammy troubles have been with him for his entire career. But, he said, the latest tweak “brings the question of, ’Is this going to keep happening more often? Is it worth it to fight it back? Is it a sign that maybe it’s time to get close to say goodbye to you guys?'” While the remark certainly could be read as a suggestion that Beltre is preparing for the end of his playing career, it also clearly indicates he’s still pondering a continuation.

    Here’s more from out west …

    • It appears that Dodgers righty Kenta Maeda is not exactly thrilled with the team’s decision to utilize him as a reliever. As Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote recently, Maeda artfully avoided any direct criticism of the move, but also declined to offer any indication that he is truly amenable to pitching from the pen. That’s understandable, given that he carries a 3.85 ERA in 110 innings on the season and certainly seems worthy of a MLB rotation spot. It probably doesn’t help that his incentive-heavy contract pays more if he racks up innings, though Maeda also tells Hernandez that the money isn’t an issue for him. While it isn’t hard to see why this is a disappointing development for the 30-year-old, it’s also understandable for a club that has six other starters with even better earned run averages and also has experienced significant bullpen issues of late.
    • Despite those recent struggles in the relief corps, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman tells Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that he remains bullish on the pen’s outlook. With some hurlers expected to return from health issues — none more important than closer Kenley Jansen — the organization seemingly thinks it has enough pieces on hand to get things done. Indeed, Friedman even says he anticipates that the relief unit “will be a strength” down the stretch. That, per Friedman, is why the club set “a high bar for what [it was] looking to acquire” at the trade deadline. When nothing sufficiently intriguing came together, says the club’s top baseball exec, the decision was made to focus instead on boosting the ability to score runs. It certainly does not sound as if the Dodgers are particularly inclined to pursue further reliever acquisitions in August, though perhaps that still cannot be ruled out either.
    • The Padres gambled in this past winter’s Rule 5 Draft by leaving slugger Franmil Reyes unprotected, writes MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, and the towering outfielder is now forcing himself into the team’s long-term plans. Reyes acknowledges that he was “disappointed” to be left off the 40-man roster, though Cassavell reports that there was some strategy involved in that roll of the dice; Reyes underwent minor surgery on his hand not long before the deadline to set 40-man rosters in advance of the Rule 5, and the Padres felt it would lessen the chances of him being taken. That proved to be the case, and while Reyes’ overall .278 OBP is an eyesore, he’s demonstrated prodigious power and cut back on his strikeouts (admittedly, in a tiny sample) since returning from the minors — though he has also encountered a particularly dry spell of late. Between Reyes, Franchy Cordero, Manuel Margot, Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe and Travis Jankowski (among others), the Friars’ front office will have some decisions to make this winter.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Padres Release Phil Hughes]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=130684 2018-08-16T18:52:23Z 2018-08-16T18:52:23Z The Padres have released right-hander Phil Hughes following his recent DFA, tweets A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com. He’s now a free agent and can sign with any club for the pro-rated league minimum.

    Hughes, who recently turned 32, was traded from the Twins to the Padres alongside a Competitive Balance draft pick in exchange for minor league catcher Janigson Villalobos earlier this season. As part of the trade, San Diego agreed to take on $7.25MM of Hughes’ $13.2MM salary for the 2019 season. In effect, the Padres were purchasing an extra draft pick (No. 74 overall) from the Twins, though San Diego did keep Hughes around to see if he could return to form in a new setting.

    That, unfortunately for both team and player, did not prove to be the case. Hughes improved his strikeout and walk numbers substantially in his time with the Padres, but he remained alarmingly homer-prone and ultimately posted a 6.10 ERA in 20 2/3 innings there. It marked the continuation of a rapid, four-year decline for Hughes that is undoubtedly tied to significant injury issues.

    Hughes originally signed a three-year, $24MM contract with Minnesota as a free agent prior to the 2014 season. He fell one third of an inning shy of reaching the final incentive threshold in his first season with the Twins and garnered quite a bit of attention when he declined to pitch in relief over the season’s final weekend as a means of crossing that 210-inning line. Hughes was rewarded for a terrific first season in Minnesota all the same — tearing up the remaining two years of his deal and inking a five-year, $58MM contract that offseason.

    It was a significant show of faith from the Twins organization, though one could hardly argue with Hughes’ 2014 results. He pitched to a 3.52 ERA in 209 2/3 innings and set the all-time record for K/BB ratio that season (11.63) when he racked up 186 punchouts against a minuscule 16 walks. Hughes spent considerable time on the disabled list in each of the next two seasons, however, and he ultimately underwent surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome in 2016.

    Hughes returned to the Twins in 2017 with the hope that the surgery would correct the numbness he’d been experiencing in his pitching hand — a common side effect of TOS — but his symptoms persisted, and he underwent a revision of his TOS surgery later that summer.

    In all, Hughes has pitched to a 5.18 ERA in 300 2/3 innings over the past four seasons. He’s tried to reinvent himself along the way, throwing a changeup more heavily at times and, in 2018, attempting to rely more on cutters and two-seamers than his diminished four-seamer. The results haven’t been there for Hughes, though, and he’ll now presumably look to latch on with another organization in hope of overcoming the injury woes that have plagued him in recent seasons.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Padres Interested In Re-Signing Freddy Galvis]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=130407 2018-08-13T19:34:00Z 2018-08-13T01:38:02Z Padres shortstop Freddy Galvis is on track to reach free agency in the offseason, but that may not happen if the team has its druthers. San Diego has “serious interest” in re-signing Galvis, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports. However, considering the Padres have an excellent shortstop prospect in 19-year-old Fernando Tatis Jr. – who has held his own at the Double-A level this season – it doesn’t seem Galvis is destined to be their long-term starter at the position. Acquired from the Phillies last winter for young right-hander Enyel De Los Santos, the 28-year-old, switch-hitting Galvis has amassed 477 plate appearances in 2018 and batted an unimpressive .237/.296/.355 (79 wRC+) with eight home runs, also drawing mixed reviews in the field (seven Defensive Runs Saved, minus-2.2 Ultimate Zone Rating).

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Padres Top Baseball America's Organizational Talent Rankings]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=130400 2018-08-12T18:36:21Z 2018-08-12T18:36:21Z
  • Baseball America recently released its updated organizational talent rankings, rating all 30 teams on the quality and depth of prospects in their minor league pipelines.  The Padres took the #1 spot, rising from third place in BA’s previous ranking from earlier in the season.  San Diego is deep enough is both pitching and position player prospects that “general manager A.J. Preller’s biggest task is sorting out which prospects are keepers and which ones should be traded to speed the big league club’s rebuild.”  The full 30-team ranking is available to Baseball America subscribers.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Wil Myers Could Return From DL As Third Baseman]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=130357 2018-08-12T03:23:28Z 2018-08-12T03:23:28Z Padres outfielder Wil Myers will play third base in a rehab game on Sunday, Dennis Lin of The Athletic tweets, and it’s “virtually certain” that he’ll start at the hot corner when he returns from a short DL stint on Monday, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. If true, it would continue a nomadic pro career around the diamond for Myers, a former catcher prospect who has primarily lined up at first base and in the outfield in the majors. It’s anyone’s guess whether the 27-year-old Myers will be able to handle third base from a defensive standpoint at the MLB level, but he does seem to have the bat for it. The third basemen the Padres have used this year rank 23rd in the majors in fWAR (0.9) and 26th in wRC+ (83).

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