- The odds seem rather long, to say the least, but Jon Heyman of Fan Rag wrote yesterday that the Padres have at least checked in with the Orioles on star infielder Manny Machado. That connection might make greater sense if the Padres were a more plausible contender or, at least, if Machado was not slated to reach free agency at season’s end. As it stands, it’s tough to fathom the Friars unloading young talent in an attempt to chase the postseason this year. Doing so in earnest, in all likelihood, would mean adding multiple other pieces as well. It could still make sense, though, for the Padres to get a gauge on Baltimore’s situation. The Pads could face some 40-man pressures this winter, so there could be an opportunity to function as a part of a three-team arrangement. If the club is really feeling bold, perhaps it could make an early strike for Machado with plans to flip him if a sudden run up the standings doesn’t ensue, though a mid-season gambit of that kind involving a rental player of Machado’s caliber would be sui generis.
The Padres are set to activate first baseman/outfielder Wil Myers from the DL, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune (via Twitter). His return was suggested on Twitter yesterday by James Clark of the East Village Times, who reported that the team will option Franmil Reyes in a corresponding roster move.
Myers has been on the shelf with an oblique injury and has only taken forty plate appearances thus far on the season. He recorded just one home run and no walks in that ten-game sample, but still stands with a .300/.300/.450 slash to this point.
If there was a notable development early in the year, it could be that Myers drew positive reviews for his work in right field. The sample is too small to tell us much of anything, but it’s generally positive given the circumstances.
After all, the Friars have an extended commitment to Myers, who was bumped to the outfield to make room for Eric Hosmer. Though he’s earning just $2MM this year and $3MM next, Myers is due a healthy $20MM annually from 2020 through 2022. His contract also includes a $20MM option for an additional season, which comes with a $1MM buyout.
There has been chatter at times that the Padres could look to find a taker for some of that deal, though there’s no real indication that it’s a serious consideration. The San Diego organization does have a rather extensive group of options in the outfield, but can ill afford to try to move Myers now, when his value is at a rather low point.
For the time being, then, the club will hope that Myers can show good health and good form on the field. It’s conceivable he could end up being involved in some trade discussions over the summer or the offseason to come. At this point, though, it is not really clear where the interest would come from or how a deal might conceivably be structured.
Without regular time available in right field now that Myers is back, the Padres will send the 22-year-old Reyes down to continue honing his craft at Triple-A. His first taste of the majors certainly highlighted some of his strengths and challenges as a player.
Reyes knocked six long balls and carried a .228 isolated slugging market in his 96 plate appearances. On the other hand, though he had sported quality K/BB numbers on the year at Triple-A, he has posted a whopping 40.6% strikeout rate and meager 4.2% walk rate in the majors. Reyes is also quite a large man who has drawn some ire for his work in the field, though DRS actually viewed him as an approximately average performer in right (again, in a limited sample).
- There’s a widespread expectation that the Padres will sell some pieces this summer, but Dennis Lin of The Athletic (subscription link) takes a deeper look at a factor that could push the Friars into activity: the Rule 5 Draft. San Diego has more than a dozen prospects who’ll be Rule 5 eligible this offseason, Lin observes, which could create further motivation to open some spots on the 40-man by moving assets that are controlled beyond the 2018 season. Brad Hand, Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen all fit that bill and have all already drawn trade interest, Lin writes, and the Padres could also shop outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Travis Jankowski to other clubs as well. Lin speaks with general manager A.J. Preller at length about the upcoming roster crunch in a thorough look at some of the decisions the club will face in the not-too-distant future.
Padres outfielder Franchy Cordero has been diagnosed with a bone spur in his right elbow following an MRI, tweets AJ Cassavell of MLB.com Cordero is currently mulling whether to attempt a rest/rehab route or to undergo surgery that would keep him out for a substantial period of time. Dennis Lin of The Athletic pegs the rehab timeline for Cordero at 12 weeks, which would cover the vast majority of the remaining season (Twitter link).
Cordero originally landed on the disabled list in late May due to a strained right forearm, but his rehab assignment was recently shut down after he felt some discomfort in his elbow while swinging a bat during a minor league plate appearance.
[Related: San Diego Padres depth chart]
The 23-year-old Cordero is hitting .237/.307/.439 with seven homers in 154 plate appearances so far in 2018. He’s one of several intriguing but still-unproven outfield options on the Padres’ roster, joining Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes in that regard. San Diego also has Wil Myers locked into a corner outfield spot following the offseason signing of Eric Hosmer, while fleet-footed Travis Jankowski provides an older but more defensively sound option than the other outfielders on the roster (with the exception of Margot).
Considering the fact that the surgical route has the potential to put Cordero out for the remainder of the season, there’s little harm in waiting to see if rest will make the injury tolerable enough to play through until the offseason. After all, given the team’s uncertain mix of outfielders, the final months of the season could represent a proving grounds for Cordero, who possesses exceptional power but has, to this point in his career, been far too strikeout prone. If, even after a substantial period of rest, the discomfort in Cordero’s elbow proves to be too much, delaying the surgery wouldn’t figure to have any impact on his readiness for the 2019 campaign.
- Padres fans are holding their breath as they await a new diagnosis on outfielder Franchy Cordero, whose rehab has been shut down entirely, as Dennis Lin of The Athletic tweets. Cordero, who began a minor league rehab assignment this week, “felt something” in his elbow while taking a swing in one of those rehab games, according to Lin. He was evaluated by Dr. Neal ElAttrache yesterday. While there’s been no official word from the team just yet, it’s an ominous-sounding injury at a time when the organization hoped Cordero was nearing a return to the lineup. The 23-year-old Cordero hit .237/.307/.439 through 154 PAs early in the season and had developed a penchant for off-the-charts exit velocity and distance projections from Statcast thanks to his light-tower raw power.
- Much as we’ve heard in prior periods of trade interest, the Padres seem disinclined to offer up closer Brad Hand for less than a compelling return. Per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, via Twitter, the “likely asking price” on Hand will be a “young everyday player.” Morosi gives the example of Rafael Devers, should the Red Sox come calling, but there’s no evident reason to read that as more than a hypothetical. If anything, it seems the report stands for the proposition that the Friars are not going to be particularly amenable to considering packages consisting of multiple, far-off prospects. We recently rated Hand as one of the top ten players to watch at the trade deadline, but noted that the San Diego organization has little reason to simply take what it can get for a player who is under affordable control for a few more seasons after signing an appealingly priced extension over the winter.
Here are the day’s deals of note from the top few rounds of the draft (rankings referenced are courtesy of Baseball America, MLB.com, Fangraphs and ESPN’s Keith Law — with the scouting reports from MLB and Fangraphs both coming free to the general public) …
- Athletics second-round pick Jeremy Eierman will receive a $1,232,000 bonus, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). That’s well over the $872,400 slot value that came with the 70th pick. The Missouri State produce drew big grades from BA (#26) and MLB.com (#29) as the top collegiate shortstop, with both a history of productivity and an intriguing power/speed offensive profile for a player who could potentially stick at shortstop. Analysts also note that an offensive downturn in the just-completed season introduced new questions about his long-term outlook.
- The Cubs are in agreement with second-round pick Brennen Davis on a $1.1MM bonus, Callis reports on Twitter. That checks in just north of the 62nd pick’s $1,060,900 allocation. Davis ranked 81st on the Fangraphs board, with physical tools and projection driving the outfielder’s draft standing. He had been committed to the University of Miami.
- The Padres will pay out $2.6MM to land supplemental first-round choice Xavier Edwards, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis (Twitter link). A consensus first-round talent, Edwards went 38th overall ($1,878,300 allocation) and required a well-over-slot bonus to give up his commitment to Vanderbilt. Fangraphs was the highest outlet on the Florida high-schooler, ranking him 17th among all eligible players based upon his outstanding speed, quality bat, and promising outlook as an up-the-middle defender.
- The Rays have deals in place with compensation selection Nick Schnell and competitive balance Round B choice Tanner Dodson, according to reports from Callis (Twitter links) and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (also on Twitter). Schnell will receive $2.3MM; the high-school outfielder was chosen with the 32nd overall pick, which comes with a $2,171,700 slot value. He’s credited with a quality tool set and what MLB.com calls an “extremely projectable frame.” Tampa Bay will save some money on Dodson, whose $997,500 bonus falls shy of the $1,228,000 slot value at #71. He’s valued most as a power pitcher but is also said to have legitimate talent as a switch-hitting outfielder, which could give the Rays another multi-functional prospect to work with.
- Second-round choice Nick Sandlin will go to the Indians for $750K, Callis tweets, which will leave some savings against the $939,700 pick allocation. With the signing, the Cleveland organization will add a highly effective collegiate hurler who is known less for his pure stuff than for his wide pitch mix and use of varied arm angles. Sandlin cracked the top 100 list of the Fangraphs team and landed within the top 200 draft prospects as graded by Baseball America and MLB.com. It certainly seems he’ll be an interesting player to follow as a professional.
The Padres, unsurprisingly, have already been receiving trade inquirieson their relievers, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic in his latest notes column (subscription required). Not only is Brad Hand garnering a strong bit of interest, but setup men Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen are each drawing inquiries from rival clubs, as are some of the team’s younger relievers.
Most notably, Rosenthal suggests that the interest in Hand is different than in recent years, owing both to his newly signed contract extension and the fact that he has now more emphatically cemented himself as a proven, elite lefty reliever.
Each of the listed relievers has an ERA south of 2.50 on the season, and each boasts strong K/BB numbers in addition to a ground-ball rate of 50 percent or better. More appealing than any of that, however, could be the simple fact that each of the three is both affordable and under control for multiple seasons.
Hand, who turned 28 in March, is the most notable of the bunch. Despite his relative proximity to free agency, he signed surprising three-year, $19.75MM contract extension in the offseason — a deal that also gives the Padres affordable a $10MM club option over the 2021 season. A waiver claim by the Padres out of the Marlins organization, Hand has improved each year in San Diego. He’s currently sitting on a 1.78 ERA with 13.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 0.76 HR/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate in 35 1/3 innings.
Overall, since joining the Friars, he’s pitched to a superlative 2.43 ERA and averaged nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings. With an average annual value just barely north of $6.5MM, his contract would fit into the majority of teams’ budgets — even those close to the luxury tax threshold (with, perhaps, the notable exception of the Giants, though a San Diego/San Francisco swap of this magnitude seems unlikely anyhow).
Hand, though, is hardly the only waiver claim who has reinvented himself in San Diego. The 31-year-old Yates pitched well for the Padres after being claimed from the Angels last season, but he’s taken his game to a new level in 2018, tossing 27 innings with a flat 1.00 ERA, a 32-to-8 K/BB ratio and a 52.3 percent grounder rate.
San Diego encouraged Yates to ditch his slider in favor of a splitter (as he recently discussed with MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell), and the righty has transformed himself completely. That ground-ball rate is nearly 20 points higher than his career mark, and the formerly homer-prone Yates has now surrendered only one home run in 2018 with his new ground-focused attack. Yates, who has a 2.83 ERA in 82 2/3 innings and an average of 13 strikeouts per nine innings pitched since joining the Padres, is earning just $1.0625MM in 2018 and is arbitration-eligible through the 2020 season.
Stammen, meanwhile, parlayed a minor league deal with the Padres prior to the 2017 season into a two-year, $4.5MM deal spanning the 2018-19 seasons. And after posting a 3.14 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.34 HR/9 and a 51.6 percent ground-ball rate in 80 1/3 innings of relief last year, Stammen has further elevated his status in 2018.
So far, the 34-year-old has logged a 2.30 ERA with a career-best 9.5 K/9 against 1.4 BB/9 and 0.29 HR/9 with a 50 percent ground-ball rate through 31 1/3 frames. Stammen’s velocity remains in the low 90s (91.2 mph average fastball), but his 12.2 percent swinging-strike rate and 35.6 percent chase rate resemble his peak form with the Nationals from a few years back. Beyond that, he’s pounding the zone more than ever, evidenced not only by his walk rate but his superb 69.1 percent first-pitch strike rate. At $2.25MM both this year and next (plus up to $1MM worth of incentives each season), he’s a bargain that any team could afford.
Rosenthal notes, too, that some of the Padres’ younger relievers have also attracted interest. While specific names aren’t listed, it stands to reason that clubs may have checked in on rookie Adam Cimber, who went from an afterthought to a potential All-Star seemingly overnight. Former starter Robbie Erlin has displayed the best control of his career while working as a multi-inning lefty, while right-hander Phil Maton has impressed since joining the club as well.
[Related: San Diego Padres depth chart]
Of course, it’s hardly certain what route the Padres will take this summer. Preller has surprised onlookers in the past by holding onto Hand at multiple trade deadlines, and he opted not to trade Tyson Ross in 2016 and Jhoulys Chacin last season. With an emerging young core, perhaps Preller and his staff would prefer to hang onto their impressive collection of controllable bullpen arms with an eye toward contending in the future.
It’s also not out of the question that the Padres end up viewing themselves as at least fringe contenders during the current season. While such a notion will elicit plenty of eye-rolling, the Friars are 11-4 over their past 15 games and now sit 5.5 games back in the NL West. They’re still four games under .500, so a serious run seems far-fetched, though they’re also on the verge of getting Joey Lucchesi, Wil Myers and Franchy Cordero back from the disabled list, as well.
- The Padres announced tonight that outfielders Wil Myers and Franchy Cordero and left-hander Joey Lucchesi are all set to begin minor league rehab assignments tomorrow. San Diego has been without Myers since April 29 due to a left oblique strain, while Cordero has been out since late May due to a forearm strain. In the absence of both corner outfielders, the Friars have been utilizing a mix of Travis Jankowski, rookie Franmil Reyes, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Matt Szczur in the outfield, though the impending return of both Myers and Cordero will shuffle that arrangement. Myers has taken just 40 plate appearances with the big league club this season, hitting .300/.300/.450, while Cordero hit .237/.307/.439 through 154 PAs and began to draw some notoriety for his prodigious home run distances and exit velocities on Statcast. As for Lucchesi, he was among the most impressive rookie pitchers in all of baseball through his first nine starts, pitching to a 3.23 ERA with a 48-to-15 K/BB ratio and a 43.8 percent ground-ball rate in 47 1/3 innings. He’s been out since May 15 due to a hip strain.
Walker Buehler left last night’s game before he was able to get through the sixth, but it wasn’t due to poor performance. The promising young right-hander left due to a side injury. Thankfully, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reports that Buehler is describing his injury as “bruised ribs”. There’s no word yet as to whether he’ll need to land on the DL for a stint, but the news ought to bring a mild sigh of relief to Dodgers fans. Such a description would seem to eliminate the dread of an oblique or intercostal strain, if Buehler’s self-description holds up. Bruises seem far less likely to disrupt his excellent season thus far; Buehler’s been worth 1.7 fWAR across nine starts in part thanks to a 4.91 K/BB ratio and 54.5% ground ball rate.
Other items out of the NL West…
- The Dodgers have received news on Justin Turner that’s far less promising, however. Shaikin also reports that Turner’s performance could be diminished all season by lingering wrist issues. The slugger spent most of the season thus far on the DL after suffering a fractured wrist during a spring training game. Shaikin also points out that he’s been held out of the lineup in three of the last four games, and has managed just a .668 OPS since returning from the disabled list.
- AJ Cassavell of MLB.com revisits the Brad Hand extension in his recent piece, reminding readers that it significantly reduced the likelihood of the reliever being traded any time soon. Hand has been one of the best relievers in baseball in recent seasons by metrics such as WPA, fWAR and ERA, and though he’d certainly fetch a hefty price for the rebuilding Padres, they now control him through 2021. That’s a season in which they could feasibly be contending for a title. For his part, Hand certainly had that in mind. “”When I signed the contract, that was the big part of it,” he said. “I wanted to be here, I wanted to help the young guys come up, and I wanted to win a World Series here.”
- Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo believes Ketel Marte is “100% playable” in spite of a recent injury, says MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. However, Lovullo adds that he “created some tenderness” with a headfirst slide into third base this past Sunday. He was held out of the lineup on Saturday, but the move seems to have been largely precautionary; his manager reportedly wanted to give him a day to get ahead of the injury. Marte has struggled to produce offensively throughout his career, sporting a .258/.313/.364 line since debuting in 2015. However, his excellent defense has played him to 2.6 wins above replacement, according to Fangraphs’ metric.