- Cuban shortstop Jose Israel Garcia was recently declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, and he’s drawing interest from a number of clubs. To this point, the Reds, Astros and Padres have all shown interest in Garcia. That would seem to indicate that he’s looking to sign before the current period comes to a close on June 15, as each of those teams has exceeded its 2016-17 pool allotment to the point that they’ll incur maximum penalization in the 2017-18 class. There’s not much data on the 19-year-old Garcia, though Heyman has described him as “slick-fielding.”
TODAY: Several organizations have held “preliminary dialogue” with the Pads regarding Hand, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. He’s “drawing keen interest,” per Lin, who suggests that the southpaw could be the first player the team deals away this summer.
YESTERDAY: The Padres recently reaffirmed to clubs that they’re “open for business,” and lefty reliever Brad Hand is the “primary” piece that they have on the table at present, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link).
San Diego’s willingness to sell off pieces isn’t exactly a new development, though the fact that the Padres are marketing Hand (or are at least willing to part with him) is of note. It does not, however, seem that there have been any serious trade discussions regarding Hand just yet; Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune tweets that the Friars have had some “very preliminary” on the lefty. Lin adds in a full column that Hand has “emerged as a coveted trade piece.”
It’s early in the year to see a trade for such a notable commodity take place, though the Padres have been a definitive seller for quite some time now, so perhaps they’d be more willing than most to move a quality reliever. The 27-year-old Hand may not be a household name, but he’s emerged as a dominant relief arm since the Padres plucked him off waivers from the Marlins in early April last year.
Since joining the Padres, Hand has turned in 115 1/3 innings of 2.65 ERA ball with a 146-to-46 K/BB ratio. He’s held left-handed opponents to a comical .123/.234/.221 batting line in that time but also shut down right-handed batters to the tune of a .219/.295/.350 triple slash.
That level of excellence figures to appeal to just about any club in need of bullpen help, but the most appealing aspect in a potential Hand trade could be the amount of club control remaining on his contract. The former second-round pick still has two years of control beyond the 2017 season remaining, and he’s earning a modest $1.375MM in 2017. That makes him financially affordable for virtually any team in the Majors, although the low salary and considerable amount of control remaining should also make the Padres’ asking price rather substantial.
It’s also worth noting that struggles from Hand’s teammate, Brandon Maurer, have opened up the ninth-inning picture in San Diego somewhat. Maurer worked the eighth inning tonight in a one-run game (and fired a perfect frame against the Mets), while Hand was tabbed for the save by manager Andy Green. The outing wasn’t exactly pretty — Hand loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk before recording an out — but Hand did manage to fire a scoreless inning to notch his third career save. Green, however, said after the game that Hand is not necessarily his new closer (Twitter link via MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell). Rather, the Padres will take save opportunities on a case-by-case basis and mix in both Maurer and Hand.
MLBTR’s Jeff Todd listed Hand among the game’s likeliest summer trade candidates last week when previewing some names to keep an eye on as the July 31 non-waiver deadline draws nearer. Hand figures to be just one of many assets that the Padres market to rival clubs this summer as general manager A.J. Preller continues his effort to stock his farm system and build a sustainable contender. Trevor Cahill, assuming he returns to health, would be another ideal trade candidate for the Padres. Names like Yangervis Solarte, Clayton Richard and perhaps Maurer (if he regains his form) also figure to frequent the rumor circuit this summer.
- Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune takes a look at right-hander Dinelson Lamet’s unlikely path to the Major Leagues in advance of the 24-year-old’s MLB debut. Lamet, who will start for the Padres tonight, is the rare Dominican-born prospect that did not sign until after his 20th birthday, Lin notes. Most Dominican ballplayers that show big league potential are snatched up beginning at age 16 and possibly a year or two later, but Lamet signed less than two months before turning 22 and is now set to debut less than three years later. As Lin writes, Lamet was poised to sign with the Phillies, but a documentation issue torpedoed that deal. Lin chats with former Padres exec Randy Smith about what the team saw in Lamet as an amateur and how they went about closing the deal.
- Padres manager Andy Green won’t name Brad Hand his new closer despite the lefty’s save in last night’s win over the Mets, but he did tell reporters that Hand and former closer Brandon Maurer will both be in the mix for saves (link via MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell). “It’s going to be looking at the game and seeing what’s best for the group of guys we have at that point in time,” says Green. “I think we’ll just bounce guys around and utilize them in the best way possible going forward right now. Wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Brandon Maurer in that situation in the ninth. Wouldn’t be shocked to see Brad Hand back in that situation.” Hand, of course, saw his name pop up as a trade target in a couple of reports last night and figures to be an oft-rumored trade candidate in the months leading up to the non-waiver deadline. For that matter, though, Maurer could also generate interest, though he’d first need to distance himself from a rough stretch of games through which he struggled in mid-May.
The Orioles have claimed shortstop Luis Sardinas off waivers from the Padres, per a club announcement. He had been designated for assignment recently.
Sardinas, a switch-hitting 24-year-old, gives the Baltimore organization another piece of infield depth. The club had an open 40-man spot to work with, but will need to make an active roster move as Sardinas is out of options.
Things haven’t gone well thus far for Sardinas, who slashed only .163/.226/.163 in his 53 plate appearances with San Diego this year. He has seen action in each of the past four MLB campaigns, including this one, though he has compiled just 480 total plate appearances and owns a lifetime .570 OPS.
That said, Sardinas ranked among the game’s Top 100 prospects according to both MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus in 2013 and 2014. He was praised as an excellent defensive shortstop while ascending through the minors, though that hasn’t borne out in his brief MLB experience to date. With the Orioles, Sardinas figures to serve in a utility capacity — a role that veteran Paul Janish is currently filling with the big league club.
- The Padres sent Trevor Cahill for an MRI on his injured right shoulder, but the test revealed no structural damage, tweets MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell. Cahill will nonetheless be shut down from throwing for the next 10 to 14 days, though, after experiencing continued discomfort in a weekend throwing session. Getting Cahill back to full health will be critical for a rebuilding Padres club that could look to cash in on his perhaps surprisingly excellent start to the season. The 29-year-old’s return to a starting role has yielded a 3.27 ERA with 11.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 60.2 percent ground-ball rate through 41 1/3 innings this season. Between that spike in strikeouts and Cahill’s modest $1.75MM salary, he’d generate plenty of interest if healthy.
- Meanwhile, the Padres will get their first look at interesting pitching prospect Dinelson Lamet, per Craig Mish of Sirius XM (Twitter links). He’ll start on Thursday, per the report. Lamet, 24, has shown well in his first full attempt at the highest level of the minors. After streaking through the system last year, he has started the current campaign with 39 innings of 3.23 ERA ball on the back of 11.5 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9. He opened the year rated tenth among Padres’ prospects, according to MLB.com, which noted that his ability to improve his command will likely dictate whether he can stay in the rotation for the long run.
- The Padres are doing “exactly what they should be doing,” Shaikin writes. The Padres are losing games (their current .348 winning percentage is worst in the Majors), but they’re also piling up prospects through Latin American signings, the Rule 5 Draft and trades of veterans, and they’re grabbing top draft picks as well, just as the Cubs and Astros did prior to their current runs of success. Interestingly, manager Andy Green says one challenge of leading a rebuilding club is getting his players to focus on getting better while ignoring Internet commentary about their current struggles. “Everybody is on Twitter. Everybody reads everything everybody says,” Green notes. “You’re fighting a cultural battle. You have to create something special inside the house, so guys will guard their minds, guard their focus and show up every day to play. Without a doubt, it’s a challenge, but a challenge I welcome every single day.”
- Padres starter Trevor Cahill underwent an MRI on his ailing right shoulder today, MLB.com’s Ryan Posner writes. Cahill headed to the DL last week, and he didn’t feel well after throwing on Saturday, according to manager Andy Green. It’s unclear how long Cahill will be out, but it’s clear he won’t be able to return after the minimum 10 days. Cahill, of course, has been a pleasant surprise for the Friars this season, posting a 3.27 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and a terrific 11.1 K/9 over seven starts.
The Padres have announced that they’ve designated infielder Luis Sardinas for assignment. The move comes in the wake of this afternoon’s news that the team had claimed another infielder, Chase d’Arnaud, from the Red Sox.
Sardinas only turned 24 this week, has played in parts of four big-league seasons, and can play shortstop, second, or third. But he’s been a significant part of the Padres’ infield struggles this season, batting a meager .163/.226/.163 over 53 plate appearances thus far. The Padres have ranked last in the NL in fWAR at both second and short so far this year, and have been fourth worst in the league at third base. While Sardinas hasn’t taken the bulk of the playing time at any of those positions, he hasn’t helped, and there’s perhaps some hope that replacing Sardinas with d’Arnaud will move the needle somewhat.
Sardinas reached the big leagues with the Rangers at 20 and appeared at one point to be a significant asset (rating in top 100 prospects lists for MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus), although a large part of that perception likely stemmed from his age relative to the levels at which he played as opposed to his performances there. He’s been traded three times in less than three years, with the diminishing returns in each deal corresponding with his falling value as he struggled to get established in the big leagues. He headed to the Brewers organization prior to the 2015 season along with Corey Knebel and Marcos Diplan for Yovani Gallardo, then to the Mariners for Ramon Flores the next winter. The Padres acquired him for a player to be named last August.
The Padres have claimed infielder Chase d’Arnaud off waivers from the Red Sox, tweets Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. D’Arnaud had been in limbo since the Red Sox designated him for assignment Thursday.
This marks the second time a team has claimed d’Arnaud this season. The 30-year-old ended up with Boston last month shortly after Atlanta waived him. In 11 combined plate appearances with the Braves and Red Sox, d’Arnaud collected four hits and two walks. Also a former Pirate and Phillie, d’Arnaud owns a .233/.289/.314 batting line in 448 major league trips to the plate.
In San Diego, the out-of-options d’Arnaud will join Allen Cordoba and Luis Sardinas as the Padres’ infield-capable reserves. Cordoba has mostly played the outfield this year, though, while Sardinas has slumped to a .163/.226/.163 showing in 53 PAs.