The San Diego Padres have been in the spotlight quite a bit of late, as the recent trades of Huston Street and Chase Headley as well as the firing of Josh Byrnes and the (very public) search for his replacement have garnered national attention. Sometimes, even with stories that produce league-wide shockwaves, minor – and not so minor – details are glossed over. We must not gloss over those details.
(Trevor Gott Here)
Trevor Gott was a pitcher in the Padres organization, drafted in the sixth-round of the 2013 draft. He’s now a pitcher in the Los Angeles Angels organization, as he was dealt along with Huston Street to the Angels last week for a quartet of prospects.
I’ve read at least three or four articles on this deal that failed to even mention Gott’s involvement in it. It’d be one thing to overlook Gott if the Padres had brought back a blue-chip prospect or two, but they didn’t. Baseball Prospectus ranked the Angels system dead-last in the majors for the second consecutive year back in February. Further, the Angels were one of only two teams (the Milwaukee Brewers) not represented at least once on BP’s top 101 prospects list. Baseball America concurred on the state of the system, although Taylor Lindsay (93rd) did narrowly crack its top 100.
That isn’t to say the Padres didn’t acquire some nice pieces for Street, a 30-year-old closer on a team that produces relief pitchers by the dozen, can’t score runs, and might not be competitive for a year or two.
Taylor Lindsay, only 22 and almost big-league ready, profiles as an offensive-minded second basemen and allows Jedd Gyorko — provided he remembers how to hit — to slide back over to third base in 2015. RJ Alvarez has struck out over 13 per nine in the minor leagues and could develop into a shut-down late-inning reliever, although injury concerns and control issues dim his glow a bit. Shortstop Jose Rondon might be the most intriguing player in the deal; he’s just 20, he owns sure-handed up-the-middle fielding ability, and his bat, although it hasn’t yet been tested beyond rookie ball or the always hitter-friendly Cal League, has plus potential. Elliot Morris (lest we forget him) didn’t even crack John Sickels Angels top 20 list from the offseason, but he still brings low-to-mid 90s heat, a fourth-round draft pedigree, and a solid early showing in the minors.
The point here – other than don’t gloss over the minutiae, especially if it involves a real, live pitcher! – is that in a deal that involves mostly marginal prospects, all with their inherent pluses and minuses, Trevor Gott deserves to be discussed. Taken in the sixth-round out of Kentucky in last year’s amateur draft and signed for $200,000, Gott possesses a 92-94 mile-per-hour fastball with sink and run along with an easy, deceptive delivery (according to BA’s draft scouting report). He’s translated well into professional ball, too, so far posting an ERA just above 3.00, a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.55, and a stingy .4 HR/9 in 80 innings of work. His tour of the Cal League this year went so well – 31.3 innings, 31 strikeouts, 9 walks, 3 home runs, 3.16 ERA – that it led to a quick Double-A call-up back in June.
At Baseball Prospectus, Chris Rodriguez, after reporting that Gott’s fastball has “recently touched 98 with wicked movement” and that he also possesses a plus to plus-plus curve, noted that “what the Angels lost in Alvarez, they gained back in Gott.” If we cancel out the Alvarez/Gott portion of the deal, the Street trade still looks like a nice return for San Diego, but it’s hardly a fleecing.
A Million Dollar Question
Yesterday the Padres traded third basemen Chase Headley to the New York Yankees for utility infielder Yangervis Solarte and right-handed pitching prospect Rafael De Paula. There was also $1 million that exchanged hands in the deal, but it probably didn’t go in the direction you expected. The Padres sent $1 million to the Yankees,* presumably to cover part of what’s remaining on Headley’s one-year, $10.5 million contract.
*The same Yankees that treated this past offseason as a personal grocery aisle, spending nearly a half billion dollars on a free agent class headlined by Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury, and recently blew away the international market by spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million there.
That $1 million doesn’t mean much to the Padres and it barely registers in New York, but it does show just how far Chase Headley’s stock has fallen over the years. Both Solarte and De Paula project more as fringe contributors than regulars and yet the Padres still had to send money to the Yankees for two-plus months of Chase Headley in a pennant race.
As we discussed in the offseason – and as had been discussed ad nauseum all over the internet – the Padres completely botched the Headley situation, failing to sign him to a long-term, team-friendly deal prior to his breakout 2012 campaign, then failing to trade him when his value peaked during or after said breakout, then finally failing to sign him to an extension post-breakout. In between there was Ron Fowler’s attempt to negotiate a new deal through the media and Headley’s staunch resistance to in-season contract talk, none of which helped matters.
In the end, the Padres are left with Solarte and De Paula and Headley isn’t much better off himself. He followed up 2012 with a less exciting 2013, then he fell apart this season with injuries and poor performance. As Chris mentioned yesterday, he still provides plus defense and a Petco-underrated bat, but depending on what he does the rest of the way in the Bronx, it looks like he’s going to come at a pretty severe discount this offseason.*
*The trade to the Yankees does allow Headley to shed the potential of being hit with a qualifying offer in the offseason, so that should help his free agent bargaining power somewhat.
If this was all the market offered, why wouldn’t the Padres just hold onto Headley and give him a qualifying offer for $14-ish million this offseason? If Headley turns it down, the Padres get a first-round draft pick. If he accepts, the Padres get another year of Headley at a fair price, not to mention the opportunity to trade him at next year’s deadline for a better haul if he rebounds. The Padres know Headley better than I do and maybe they think he’s essentially done. If that’s the case, dealing him for the best package right now was probably their best bet.
Either way, sending that $1 million to the Yanks along with Headley, who just hit a walk-off single in the 14th inning of his New York debut as I write this, had to be a bitter pill to swallow for the Padres.