This is the first in a series of articles exploring possible trade partners for the Cubs, as they look to upgrade before the August 1 trade deadline. Today, we look at the San Diego Padres.
Before last season, the San Diego Padres made a bunch of roster additions, hoping to escape years of baseball purgatory and become instant contenders. It didn’t exactly work out, as they finished 74-88, their fifth straight losing season. They are currently 20-29 and well on their way to missing the playoffs for the tenth straight year, and with Baseball America ranking their farm system 25th in the majors at the beginning of the year, they likely will be looking to move some big league pieces over the next two months. Would any of their players be a fit for the Cubs?
The problem from the Padres’ perspective is that they have little to get excited about at the big league level. Drew Pomeranz has been one of the most pleasant surprises in baseball this year, having a breakthrough season at age 27. The left-handed starter has allowed just ten earned runs in 53 innings and leads the majors in allowing 5.1 hits per nine innings. It seems unlikely the Padres would deal him at this point, and even if they did, the Cubs at this time aren’t so desperate for starting pitching that it would be worth giving up what it would take to get him.
Elsewhere on the mound, James Shields is having another solid year, but barring any injuries, he wouldn’t be enough of an upgrade over any of the Cubs’ starters to make it worth a trade for him, either. The Cubs were linked to Tyson Ross in trade rumors last year and may be again this year, though he is currently on the disabled list and again would only be a slight upgrade for the rotation. The Cubs are more likely to be interested in 39-year-old closer Fernando Rodney, who has ten saves and has yet to allow an earned run in 18 innings. The Cubs are currently set at closer with Hector Rondon, but if they are later looking to add bullpen depth, he could be a possibility.
The Padres have a few position players worth mentioning as well. Melvin Upton has had an up-and-down career but has been playing well so far in 2016, batting .257 with six home runs and 20 RBIs. He’s been their primary left fielder after years of playing center and has a 0.7 defensive Wins Above Replacement, even better than Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward (0.6). If he keeps playing like this, he’d be worth looking at in order to add outfield depth.
Elsewhere in the oufield, Matt Kemp has always been a strong run producer but is a liability on defense, while longtime Cardinal Jon Jay figures to generate interest from a lot of teams looking to add a backup outfielder. Then there’s Wil Myers, still only 25, who has been plagued by injuries throughout his career but has the potential to be a dangerous hitter. However, if the Padres decide to move him, he’d be a better fit as a DH for an American League team. He’s played mostly first base this year but has played a few other positions and has posted a negative defensive WAR every year of his career.
Most likely possibilities: It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Cubs show interest in Rodney, who came over to the Cubs late last year and was effective in limited duty before moving on to San Diego. Upton would add some outfield depth that they likely will need as the season wears on. Jay might be a good veteran addition to the bench, especially if the Cubs are looking to add to their collection of former Cardinals on their roster. None of these players would cost the Cubs much in the way of prospects. Neither Kemp nor Myers would be a good fit for the Cubs.