[fancy intro here]
Benoit’s been both consistent and effective since returning from shoulder surgery in 2010, but he turned 38 in July, he’s a reliever, and his peripherals dipped in 2015. He’s also owed $7.5 million in 2016, all of which combined to make him an ideal trade candidate for a Padres team treading the water between rebuilding and retooling. Despite Benoit’s track-record as a shutdown setup man, he didn’t bring a ton back from Seattle—he’s a 38-year-old relief pitcher with declining peripherals, after all.
De Los Santos is about what you’d expect from a not quite 20-year-old pitching prospect: He throws reasonably hard from a solid frame, and his career could go in any number of a hundred different directions. He’s certainly the type of prospect you don’t mind acquiring, but he’s also one you pencil into a future role only if you have an eraser handy.
Ward’s spent time at both second base and shortstop since entering pro ball in 2014, and he hit .278/.365/.436 last year—a line inflated by 337 plate appearances in the hitter-friendly Cal League. He fits the versatile backup infielder mold if the remaining development goes as planned.
This could easily go down in the win-win column, but it’s hard not to be impressed by the return San Diego got here. A.J. Preller, who looked like a trigger-happy GM through most of his first year, waited out last season’s trade deadline and stood pat, apparently unhappy with various trade packages discussed. Then, Dave Dombrowski—known trader of prospects—landed in Boston in August, leaving Preller with a perfect match for Kimbrel.
Margot’s a high-upside outfielder with a reasonable floor; Guerra adds shortstop depth to an organization in need of it; Asuaje possesses a solid offensive profile and experience at second, third, and left field; and Allen is a polished-for-his-age 18-year-old lefty lottery ticket. The Padres are stuck with Melvin Upton’s contract (which doesn’t look quite as bad as it once did), but the Kimbrel Experiment significantly improved the farm system while giving San Diego one year of a lights out closer. The whole exchange essentially boils down to the Padres buying prospects, and there are worse ways to spend money.
As I discussed in the transaction analysis at Baseball Prospectus, it’s probably a good time for the Padres to get back to cheap, makeshift bullpens. The Kimbrels and Benoits are great for teams with money to burn, and while the Padres have gradually bumped payroll, there’s plenty of dough already tied up in long-term contracts for a team in their tax bracket. Combine some current options—Brandon Maurer, Jon Edwards (really?), Nick Vincent, Kevin Quackenbush, etc.—with a starter-to-reliever convert or a minor leaguer nobody’s heard of, and it shouldn’t be all that hard to build a solid ‘pen without the brand name flair.
If the money saved is used to shore up other deficiencies, all the better.
Padres claim C Josmil Pinto off waivers from the Twins
Pinto still has catcher next to his name, but it’s not entirely clear that he should be allowed back there any longer. Both the pitch framing and blocking numbers are ugly in limited samples and his arm, once a potential asset, has gradually declined—since 2014, between Triple-A and the majors, he’s thrown out just 16 percent of would-be base thieves.
Pinto’s 2013 breakthrough was legit, as I watched him in New Britain over the summer and came away impressed by his bat, his ability behind the plate, and his overall approach to the game. He’s not a middle-of-the-order hitter and he’s not a shutdown defender, but he is likely to be a consistent solid-average player at a premium position, one that could hit .275-plus with 15 bombs while playing average (or better) defense. It’s a very nice profile.
Time hasn’t been kind to Pinto, as the glove’s deteriorated and the bat hasn’t quite progressed as hoped. His OPS barely cracked .700 in 197 plate appearances with the Twins in 2014, and last year he hit .228/.300/.369 in the minor leagues, mostly at Triple-A Rochester. Still, he’ll turn just 27 by Opening Day, and there’s enough back class to make Pinto perfectly reasonable as a buy-low option, particularly if his defense can reach passable levels behind the dish and/or he can slide down to first base now and then.
Pinto’s also out of options, and the Padres have three viable catchers heading into 2016—Derek Norris, Austin Hedges, and Pinto. There’s probably a decent chance one of the three is sent packing by spring.
[close things out with a bang here]