- The Mets’ surprise acquisition of Marcus Stroman has sparked even more rumors about a possible Noah Syndergaard trade, with the Padres one of the teams (if pessimistically so) still in talks about Syndergaard. While the Padres have a deep farm system’s worth of prospects to offer, one name that isn’t available is top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets. Gore has been mentioned as a possible trade chip in quite a few speculative deals since the offseason, though the Padres reportedly consider the young left-hander to be next to untouchable. Ironically, the Mets themselves may have contributed to the Padres’ stance on not including Gore in a Syndergaard trade — since the Mets didn’t have to give up even a top-100 MLB.com-ranked prospect for Stroman, San Diego can argue that a consensus top-10 arm like Gore is too much to give up for Syndergaard.
- The Padres have been heavily linked to Syndergaard since the offseason, though USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that San Diego is “not optimistic” about landing the righty, since the Mets’ trade demands for Syndergaard are so high. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney tweeted earlier today that Manuel Margot had been discussed as part of the Mets/Padres talks.
- Unsurprisingly, the Padres have been getting calls on some of their top prospects. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports interest in infielder Luis Urias among teams who believe he can be a capable everyday shortstop. Urias has continued to play predominantly shortstop in the minors, but the position is obviously filled in Petco for the forseeable future by Fernando Tatis, Jr. Most public outlets believe second base to be a better fit for Urias regardless, but there’s little concern he can’t handle the increased offensive demands of the keystone. The 22 year-old is laying waste to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and is a consensus top-50 prospect. While not necessarily related to any interest in Urias, Rosenthal further notes the Friars have been on the lookout for a left-handed bat to help balance their lineup.
- Urias isn’t the only San Diego high-minors farmhand piquing interest. Amidst speculation about a three-team Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman trade, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee tweets the Blue Jays have interest in Padres’ left-hander Adrian Morejon. The 20 year-old was a high-profile Cuban signee as an amateur and has flown through the minors. While he’s not likely a future ace and has a bit of a spotty injury history, Fangraphs’ Eric Longehagen and Kiley McDaniel note that Morejon’s stuff and command give him a chance to be a mid-rotation starter.
- The Padres aren’t the only team with a high-minors prospect sparking leaguewide demand. Cleveland infielder Yu Chang is drawing some calls, per Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com. Soon to turn 24, the Taiwnese infielder is a bat-first prospect who made his MLB debut this season but could have a hard time breaking into a loaded left side of the Cleveland infield. He’s slashing a solid, if unspectacular .273/.344/.448 this season in Triple-A.
In a refreshingly candid interview with Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Padres outfielder Wil Myers gave several quotes providing insight into the mind of an established ballplayer who has fallen precipitously on hard times on the diamond.
“It’s not something that I ever saw coming, especially to have an All-Star year and then three years later not be playing,” Myers said. “It’s definitely tough. This is one of the things that hurts your pride. This is what I’ve been good at since I was five-years-old.
By “something,” Myers is referring to his sudden inability to do the things that have made him a highly compensated professional athlete. On the 2019 season, Myers–always a strikeout-prone hitter–has been felled by way of the “K” an astonishing 111 times in his 270 at-bats. With the exception of Myers’ 2014 season–when he was hindered by a lingering wrist injury–this year’s output would represent career-low marks in wRC+ (87), OPS (.696), and batting average (.211).
More alarmingly, it’s difficult to find evidence that Myers’ poor production is simply the result of poor luck or context. His .306 BABIP is right around his career average; the same is true for his hard-hit rate (43.1%). His wOBA of .305 isn’t shockingly far from his .323 xwOBA. Unfortunately, the only readily available explanation seems to be “between the ears,” and Myers spoke on how his struggles have affected his confidence.
“No matter how hard you try, it seems like you’re digging a bigger hole,” Myers said. “So I definitely have been pissed off. I can’t stand sitting the bench. I hate it. I really do. It’s just terrible. I’ve never done it before.”
Taken out of context, those quotes may simply sound like the venting of a frustrated ballplayer disgruntled over lack of playing time. However, Acee’s article actually includes some revelatory comments that indicate Myers’ willingness to do what’s best for the organization that signed him to a six-year, $86.5MM extension that begins to escalate into $20MM annual territory beginning next year.
Of a possible demotion to the minor leagues–which Myers, as a veteran player, has the right to refuse–the outfielder indicated, at least, openness: “I can’t sit here and lie and pretend like I haven’t thought like, ‘Maybe if I had some at-bats there, it might get better,’ ” Myers acknowledged. “But, you know, what, that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to bring value to this team right now.”
Though the extension handed to Myers by GM AJ Preller has become a rightful punching bag of analysts and fans alike, the outfielder’s sudden, prime-year struggles are fascinatingly inexplicable. Between 2015 and 2018, it could have been argued that Myers was, if nothing else, a model of consistency: his wRC+ in that span never dipped below 107 or above 115; his slugging percentage in that span checked in with a high mark of .464 and a low mark of .427. Heading into the season at age 28, Myers may not have been the superstar the team forecasted when it handed him a sizable extension, but he was still a thoroughly playable piece.
Suddenly, though, Myers’ ability to “bring value to the team” will hinge largely on the play of his teammates. The emergence of Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe as quality big league hitters–along with the improving play of Manuel Margot–have left him without much of a spot in the outfield, while the organization’s decision to sign Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144MM deal in 2018 categorically moved Myers off of first base. Without many available at-bats within immediate reach, Myers could have a tough time breaking out of this prolonged 2019 slump.
It’s anyone’s guess whether the Indians will trade right-hander Trevor Bauer before Wednesday’s deadline. On one hand, he’s an integral piece of a surging team that has climbed to 62-42, putting the Tribe four up on the AL’s top wild-card spot and just one back of the division-leading Twins. On the other, the budget-conscious Indians would net an enticing return for Bauer, who’s on a $13MM salary and figures to earn a raise of $5MM or more to conclude his arbitration control next season. Even if the Indians decide to retain Bauer through this year, his time in Cleveland is nearing a conclusion. The 28-year-old “almost certainly” isn’t going to be on the Indians’ roster in 2020, Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com reports.
In the meantime, the Indians have a few days to choose how to proceed with Bauer this season. There’s already known to be plenty of interest in Bauer, but it seems two of the Indians’ AL rivals – the Yankees and Astros – are pursuing him with more vigor than anyone else. Those two clubs “keep inquiring about Bauer,” writes Hoynes, who adds the Indians have also discussed him with the Padres and Braves.
Among the Yankees, Astros, Padres and Braves, only San Diego isn’t an immediate contender. However, the club is known to like Bauer, whom it tried to acquire at the beginning of the season. Led by their collection of young talent, the Padres have made progress since then, and they’re aiming to make a more spirited run at a playoff berth next year. That’s evidenced by the club’s interest in Bauer and other established starters, including Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd and Mets righty Noah Syndergaard.
It would seem rather difficult for Cleveland to hand Bauer to New York or Houston, in part because the Indians could realistically wind up facing him as a Yankee or Astro in the postseason. Plus, considering Corey Kluber has been out since May 1 with a forearm fracture (and isn’t returning imminently) and Carlos Carrasco’s battling leukemia, the Indians arguably need Bauer more than ever.
Bauer not only leads the Indians’ staff in innings (152 1/3), but he paces the entire league in that department, and has logged a solid 3.49 ERA/4.19 FIP with 10.58 K/9 and 3.49 BB/9. All-Star MVP Shane Bieber is the lone Indians starter who has outperformed Bauer over the course of a full season in 2019. Mike Clevinger has been fantastic again, though he has only made nine starts. Another rookie, Zach Plesac, has joined Bieber in outdoing Bauer in ERA (3.10), but that figure looks like a house of cards when examining his fielding-independent pitching numbers. Meanwhile, Adam Plutko and the currently injured Jefry Rodriguez have managed back-end type of numbers over a combined 17 starts.
For now, the interest in Bauer may wind up going for naught. The Indians could prefer to hold Bauer and try to take another run at a championship as control over him and several other notables – most importantly, Francisco Lindor – dissipates. If the Indians elect against moving Bauer in the next few days, Hoynes suggests they’ll attempt to supplement their roster, perhaps by by adding relief and-or offensive help. Hoynes points to Rangers slugger Hunter Pence as “a possibility” for Cleveland, though it’s unclear if that’s speculation or if there’s real interest on the Tribe’s part.
4:25 pm: The Padres have “not shown much desire” to move Urias in any deal, per The Athletic’s Dennis Lin.
2:56 pm: The Mets, who currently sit in no-man’s land in a stacked-up NL Wild Card picture, are “exploring” a number of trade scenarios, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, one of which includes sending righty Noah Syndergaard to the Padres and using a portion of the loot to pursue Toronto’s Marcus Stroman.
It’s a bizarre scenario for New York, which still boasts a respectable blue-chip group after shipping top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to Seattle in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade. A further depletion of the team’s farm, given its current trajectory, would obviously be unsound, but swapping Syndergaard for Stroman with a marginal gain in prospect capital wouldn’t seem to make much sense either. Stroman, of course, is under control (through 2020) for a season fewer than is Thor, and, despite a recent output that would suggest otherwise, isn’t on level with the 26-year-old ace, whose 2.85 FIP is tied for 6th best among all MLB hurlers since his debut in 2015.
Simply dangling Syndergaard for the choicest return – one that’d almost surely include an MLB-ready piece the club could plug right in to its 25-man – would be the blueprint for most teams, especially ones whose near-term designs on contending had gone awry. Perhaps the club would intend to flip Stroman after the season ends, or even extend him, but his value’s near-zenith at current and an offseason trade wouldn’t figure to net a return commensurate with the departing package this July.
It’s certainly true that the Padres have an embarrassment of riches with which to play, and the headlining piece in the swap with New York – Luis Patiño, perhaps, or the polarizing Luis Urias (9th overall, per Baseball Prospectus, though has struggled big-time in a brief MLB sample thus far) – could anchor the club’s lineup or rotation for years to come, though there isn’t a clear-cut available superstar in the bunch (assuming that lefty MacKenzie Gore is off the table). New York would be selling low on a controllable hurler who’s a decent bet to return to ace form, and swapping him to a team who doesn’t necessarily possess the MLB-ready stud the team seems to covet.
For the Padres, the buy-low opportunity may be too much to pass up, even though the team’s position in the playoff picture – currently 7 GB of the second Wild Card spot – wouldn’t align with a big-fish hook. Assuming the Mets require the full ticket price on Syndergaard, San Diego will be paying a premium for two additional months of the hurler, time in which the club will likely be focused primarily on player development. Still, it may be now-or-never for the Pads, who likely wouldn’t have a chance to acquire Thor if he’s shipped to a team with its eyes on long-term prizes.
The Phillies have acquired Jose Pirela from the Padres for cash considerations, the team reports.
Pirela, 29, was designated for assignment Monday by the Friars. The one-time Yankee was a staple in the Padre lineup from 2017-18, a stretch bookended by an ugly .249/.300/.345 line in 473 plate appearances for the club. Pirela has experience at every position save catcher, shortstop, and center field, and has proven a capable defender at each. In 242 plate appearances for the mash unit that is the El Paso Chihuahuas this season, the 29-year-old did his best to stand out, slashing a hefty .353/.401/.674 with 18 homers for the club.
With the possible, small-sample exception of Brad Miller, Philadelphia’s secondary players haven’t offered much this season. Six of the Phils’ bench players have combined for -2.5 fWAR, a number that’ll surely need a boost if the club’s to nail down one of two hotly-contested NL Wild Card spots.
Righty Tommy Hunter was moved to the 60-Day IL to make room for Pirela on the 40-man.
If it seems like Margot has been around forever, that’s because he’s not only in his third season as a regular contributor in San Diego, but before that he was a key piece in the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox – after which he instantly became the top-rated prospect in the Padres’ system by MLB.com. He was the 26th-ranked prospect in the game at the start of 2016 when he looked like a potential future star in center, batting a projectable .263/.313/.409 as a 22-year-old rookie.
The Padres have had so many prospects enter the national conversation since that 2015 blockbuster that Margot has faded well into the background, not only on the national level but for the Padres as well. As it stands today, Margot’s career line of .251/.303/.394 doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence as the centerfielder of the future.
Still, he’s remarkably only 24-years-old, and as Cassavell points out, for a little over a month now, he’s raked. Since June 23, he’s holding a .260/.387/.519 line. Consider positive career defensive ratings in center (19 DRS, 11.8 UZR), and Margot may yet contribute to the next contender in San Diego.
Despite San Diego’s deep farm system, they don’t necessarily have their next centerfielder bookmarked. That plays in Margot’s favor, but it might also make the Padres all the more proactive in seeking an outside solution. Unless he can consistently put together quality results against right-handers, he’s more likely pegged for a future as a fourth outfielder, whether in San Diego or elsewhere.
The Padres best bet is to play out the string for the remainder of 2019 and hope he does enough to improve his stock for a potential offseason trade. His youth is encouraging, but he’s also approaching his first season of arbitration, making 2019 a put-up-or-shut-up season for Margot. His first time through arbitration won’t break the bank, but it does change his valuation moving forward. Another couple of months like his last, however, and Margot could change that valuation once again.
10:35pm: It isn’t definite the Mets will trade Syndergaard, per reports from Anthony DiComo of MLB.com and Anthony Rieber of Newsday, though Rieber adds the club’s “working hard” to move him. The Astros are “pessimistic” about their chances of acquiring Syndergaard, DiComo writes. Meanwhile, it “doesn’t sound like” the Mets and Twins have made headway toward a deal, Martino tweets.
3:58pm: Mets righty Noah Syndergaard has emerged as the perhaps the most talked-about name on the trade market, and his name once again figures to dominate headlines — much as it did in the offseason. Meanwhile, scouts will be watching closely as fellow starter Zack Wheeler takes the hill tonight for his lone pre-deadline showcase start. Here’s the latest on both hurlers …
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Mets are seeking an MLB-ready starter who can step right into the rotation in place of Syndergaard, then some additional high-end prospects after that. The pitcher in question needn’t technically be the headliner in the deal, but presumably the Mets are eyeing a controllable (pre-arbitration) starter as well as premier minor leaguers beyond that point.
That aligns with recent reports from SNY’s Andy Martino (Twitter links), who suggests that the Mets view the Padres, Braves, Dodgers, Rays and Yankees as the best on-paper fits in a deal. The Padres and Braves, in particular, are rich with MLB-ready pitchers in the upper minors, and Sherman lists that pair of organizations as the two that the Mets feel are best-positioned to work out a deal.
Notably, Sherman calls the Astros the “most aggressive” pursuer of Syndergaard, but Houston has seen its top pitching prospects take a step back in 2019. Forrest Whitley (shoulder fatigue) has barely pitched in 2019. Corbin Martin underwent Tommy John surgery. Martino suggests that neither the Astros nor Twins are viewed as prime trade partners — likely because other interested parties have better MLB-ready arms to offer. It was reported this morning that the Twins and Mets have discussed Syndergaard, with the Mets showing particular interest in shortstop Royce Lewis and outfielder Alex Kirilloff.
Looking at the teams the Mets apparently believe to be fits, it’s a bit of an eyebrow-raiser to see the Yankees and Braves listed. The Yankees and Mets haven’t lined up on a trade in more than a decade, and the frequent reports out of New York portraying the contempt that Mets owner Fred Wilpon has toward the Yankees make a deal of this nature seem decidedly unlikely. Meanwhile, trading Syndergaard to a division rival would be difficult for Mets fans to stomach, particularly given that he’s controlled through the 2021 season.
Whether the Houston organization can put together a compelling package for Syndergaard, they’ll have other things to talk about with the Mets front office. The ’Stros are “one of many” teams that have interest in Wheeler, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link). Martino tweets that the Yankees also remain interested in Wheeler and will be watching intently this evening.
Reports yesterday from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News indicated that Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara was drawing interest from rival teams. Grant mentioned that Mazara was getting looks from teams who weren’t necessarily contenders this season but were looking to contend in 2020, and today Grant specified that the Padres and White Sox were two of the clubs scouting Mazara.
San Diego is something of an odd fit for Mazara on paper, as the Padres already have multiple corner outfield options on hand. Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe have both performed very well this season, the struggling Wil Myers isn’t likely to be going anywhere due to his contract, Travis Jankowski and Josh Naylor are the two primary options in the minor leagues, and Franchy Cordero could also rejoin the mix if he gets healthy.
Then again, Padres GM A.J. Preller was the Rangers’ director of international scouting when Mazara was first signed to a then-record $5MM bonus by the Rangers back in 2011. It wouldn’t at all be surprising if Preller feels a move to a new environment could help Mazara become a consistently productive big league player. It’s also possible the Padres could create some space in the outfield with some trades for pitching over the next week, as the club has been linked to a long list of starting arms over the last several months.
Chicago has Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert ticketed as their respective left and center fielders of the future, though while Leury Garcia has been a useful player, the White Sox could prefer to land a player with more upside like Mazara. Garcia has been one of several Sox players who have generated some trade interest as we approach the deadline, though Chicago isn’t considered to be too interested in moving players, as the club has their eye on contending for the AL Central in 2020. Between Jimenez’s debut, breakout performances from Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada, and other young talents who are on the verge of the big leagues, the Pale Hose seem to be on the verge of properly ending their rebuild. (Of course, they almost did so last winter in their push to sign Manny Machado, before losing him to the Padres.)