Padres Trade Headley for Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula, Still Confused by Smith Contract

The Padres sent third baseman Chase Headley to the Yankees today in exchange for utility man Yangervis Solarte, long-shot pitching prospect Rafael De Paula, and about $3 million in freed salary.

Solarte, drafted by the Twins, was signed as a minor league free agent by the Rangers in 2011 and again by the Yankees in 2014. His stock rose this year after a hot start in New York, though he was later sent back to the minors after cooling off. Fangraphs projections systems see him as a near .255 / .330 / .380 hitter the rest of the year, so hopefully his defense proves versatile enough to be a useful bench player. John Sickels has more on Solarte from earlier this season.

Rafael De Paula sports a solid K/9 over his career, and has lowered his walk rate enough this season for a nice enough 3.34 FIP for the Yankees in high-A Tampa.

The Padres’ plan here is to get at least something for Headley before he left this season via free agency, and of course to save a few mil. Apparently the team expected him to become the first player to accept a qualifying offer, expected to cost around $14 million this coming offseason. Otherwise it’s hard to see the return as anywhere near the value of the draft pick the Padres get if Headley said no to the QO.

Despite a rough start (and recent improvement), the projection systems that account for multiple years of player performance still expect Headley to end the season about average offensively. Which, combined with excellent defense means about 3 fWAR on the year. That’s a player who costs roughly $18 million on the open market. I hope the Padres like De Paula because I would have risked a qualifying offer to Headley, but it’s not my money.

Chase Headley leaves the team as one of the most successful position players the Padres have ever drafted and developed. His solid defense seemed perpetually underrated, as did his bat (even in the down years) due to Petco Park’s massive advantage toward pitchers. It was time to move on, but I’m going to miss that rugged face of his.

As for Seth Smith, his recent two year extension makes it seem at least some Padres decision makers expect the team to be competitive by 2016 or 2017, his last guaranteed and option year. The extension also appears odd in that it happened at a time when Smith’s value is likely at the highest point of his entire career, both in the past and the future. As the team continues parting ways with short term pieces, they’ll need to be competitive quickly in order to justify the shorter-term Smith extension as opposed to trading him for long-term assets.

(Updated at 6PM with Seth Smith commentary, corrected De Paula’s stat line to FIP from ERA)

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