While I spent the off-season drinking beer in North Park, Padres GM Josh Byrnes was aggressively reshaping his team’s roster. Thanks to a depth not seen in these parts for some time, he engineered several small trades that increased the club’s talent level.

In separate deals with the Orioles, Pirates, A’s, Astros (twice), and Rays, Byrnes did this:

Out In
Matt Andriese, RHP Alex Dickerson, 1B
Anthony Bass, RHP Jesse Hahn, RHP
Brad Boxberger, RHP Ryan Jackson, SS
Brad Brach, RHP Devin Jones, RHP
Jaff Decker, OF Patrick Schuster, LHP
Logan Forsythe, 2B/3B Seth Smith, OF
Luke Gregerson, RHP Alex Torres, LHP
Jesús Guzmán, 1B
Matt Lollis, RHP
Miles Mikolas, RHP
Maxx Tissenbaum, 2B

Byrnes also signed right-handers Josh Johnson and Joaquin Benoit. He was a busy guy.

Departures

Look at the left column. Who will the Padres miss this year? Probably Gregerson, although he is replaced by Benoit. Maybe Boxberger and Forsythe if they find command and health, respectively.

Long-term? Andriese, although his upside is that of a fourth starter. I like him, but I’m not pulling my hair out over losing the next Corey Kluber. The most interesting guy is Lollis, whose persistent mechanical issues make him a long shot. He could be a late-inning reliever, he could be nothing.

Bass, Brach, and Mikolas are essentially the same pitcher–well, Bass can start, but you get the idea. Decker is a corner guy with patience and not as much power as you’d like. He could be a good lefty bat off the bench. Guzman is a decent righty bat. Tissenbaum has an awesome name and is Canadian.

Arrivals

Now look at the right column. Dickerson ranked ninth on the Baseball Prospectus top 10 Padres prospect list ($). This is largely because the team has graduated so many of its best young players, but it still means something. He elicits comparisons to Garrett Jones–functional, but not exciting.

Hahn has upside and could be a mid-rotation starter if (and it’s a big “if”) he stays healthy. Jackson is a glove-first shortstop who presumably fills the Ronny Cedeño role. Even in El Paso, he’ll be more useful to the Padres than Guzmán would have been.

Jones may or may not be anything. The price to acquire him was Brach, a Quadruple-A pitcher.

Schuster is a Rule 5 guy who has to stick with the big club all year or be returned to the Diamondbacks. I’m less excited about him than the Padres apparently are (Byrnes drafted him in 2009), but whatever. You bring a young, hungry kid into camp and see what happens. Worst case, it cost you Bass, who had no role in San Diego. I’m not sweating over whether Schuster makes the team. He’s an intriguing option who creates competition.

Smith, as I’ve mentioned, is a solid fourth outfielder. He can’t hit lefties, but that isn’t his job. His job is to hit righties, spell the regulars occasionally, and step in when Carlos Quentin gets hurt again. Smith replaces the retired Mark Kotsay and helps ensure that Alexi Amarista stays away from the outfield. Sure, he cost Gregerson, but given the club’s surplus of right-handed relievers and dearth of left-handed bats, that’s not an unreasonable price to pay.

As for Torres, he posted shiny numbers in Tampa Bay last year. As a fastball/changeup guy who lives up in the zone and has spotty command, he’ll slip some, but he can start or relieve and has minimal platoon splits. In other words, he’s more interesting than your average lefty reliever.

Conclusions

There’s only one question that matters: Have the Padres improved as a result of these moves? We won’t know for sure until actual games are played, but on paper, the answer is yes.

They turned a high-mileage setup man, four right-handed middle relievers who haven’t established themselves in the big leagues, a back-of-the-rotation prospect, a giant with an arm and no clue how to use it, a left-handed pinch-hitter, a right-handed pinch-hitter, an infielder who can’t stay healthy, and an organizational soldier into a fourth outfielder they can use now, a lefty power bat they might be able to use later, two lefty relievers (at least one of whom will help immediately), a right-hander with upside, a right-hander without upside, and a good defensive shortstop.

Short version: The Padres will miss Gregerson, although Benoit figures to be as good if not better. They’ve upgraded from Kotsay to Smith, found a replacement for Joe Thatcher, and added two intriguing prospects in Dickerson and Hahn.

Absent a huge splash in the free-agent pool (and even then, you risk being stuck with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton long after their primes), this is the kind of off-season you want your team’s GM to have. Will good process translate into more Padres wins in 2014? Outcomes are fickle, but at least there is reason to hope, which beats the opposite.

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  • Change the Padres

    In your conclusion, you basically described each player the Padres are giving up in the worst way possible while describing every player the Padres are receiving in the best way possible. I expect this from GLB or Mickey Koke or something, but not Geoff Young:

    Jaff Decker = “left-handed pinch hitter”
    Seth Smith = “fourth outfielder who they can use now”

    Matt Lollis = “a giant with an arm and no clue how to use it”
    Jesse Hahn = “a right-hander with upside”

    Bass, Mikolas, Boxberger, Brach = “four right-handed middle relievers who haven’t established themselves in the big leagues”
    Torres, Schuster = “two lefty relievers (at least one of whom will help immediately)”

    Couldn’t both sides of each of those groupings be described in basically the exact same way (except the handedness in the final example) in the opposite direction?

    • You’ll never be happy. Now, I’m not saying that Byrnes and the Padres are doing everything right – what I’m saying is – you’ll never be happy. And that’s sad.

      • Change the Padres

        What does that conjecture have to do with anything? I actually like the moves this post is about, but he presents the conclusion in a laughably biased manner.

        And no, trading for a few prospects and fourth outfielder doesn’t make me “happy”. What’s more sad is if that’s all it takes to make you content.

      • Geoff Young

        You haven’t pointed out a folly. You’ve stated a differing opinion. We’re all guilty of confusing the two from time to time, and it’s important they’re always pointed out. This is no exception.

      • Change the Padres

        No…I’ve pointed out several follies. I never disputed your assessments, just that you’ve presented only the positive ones for the Padres’ players and only the negative ones for the departing players – in the conclusion.

        Follies include:
        Defining relievers as guys “who haven’t established themselves in the big leagues” but then calling the next guy “high mileage” despite having never reached free agency. Logistically, that means that only guys with like 2-3 years of solid numbers wouldn’t be described negatively. But then: why aren’t Schuster and Torres described as not established? How in the world does that not equally apply?

        Why can’t Forsythe stay healthy; do you mean hasn’t stayed healthy? It may be just a slip of the tongue, but it reads like Forsythe has something that makes it impossible for him to ever stay healthy.

        Why isn’t the Dean Anna for Ben Paullus trade included? A pretty convenient omission. Forgot to mention that the first time around, but it seems curious, at best, now. There’s a real chance he’s worth more in MLB in ’14 than everyone else in the trades.

        Again: I don’t disagree that these moves are/were savvy and marginally improve the team. But you make it sound like they fleeced everybody and picked up a tremendous amount of assets for a collection of duds. It’s a disservice to the rest of your post.

      • Change the Padres

        Case in point:
        Luke Gregerson is called “high mileage” right before he calls the other guys unproven at the major league level. Gregerson hasn’t even hit free agency yet. Who in the world qualifies as not high mileage and proven? Only good relievers in their arb1 seasons? Lol.

      • Geoff Young

        Gregerson has made more appearances than any other pitcher in the big leagues since he first arrived and is heavily dependent on his slider. Whether he has reached free agency or not, the risk is real.

    • Geoff Young

      Yes, they could, if you valued the players differently from the way I do.

      • Change the Padres

        Ah, good. So then you concede – in that statement – that Lollis doesn’t have upside and that both Torres and Schuster have “established themselves in the big leagues”. Got it.

        You know, you could just say ‘yeah, I guess I presented it in an ideal fashion’ and I’d go away. If you’re going to be a dick about it, I’ll continue to show and share where the post is lackluster. I actually complimented you in the very first paragraph of what I wrote, but you took it as open hostility instead of simple criticism. Or are comments on your posts just for high fives? Sometimes I forget.

      • GoldenBoy

        Jesus Christ, chill out. This post is all about talking baseball. No reason to freak out. Go Padres!

      • Amish_willy

        No kidding… I know what i want to change about the Padres!

      • pat

        Well you’re showing where something is lackluster, but it’s not Geoff’s post. Rant on!

      • Tom Waits

        You undercut your points with this nonsense. The person who introduced dickishness to this post was you, with the “I expect this from GLB….” business. And GY’s response was in no way penile.

        I’ve “known” Geoff for a long time. We’ve disagreed about a lot. The idea that he is only looking for high fives is beyond laughable. You’ve taken this persecution complex to an unhealthy extreme.

        It’s too bad, because you have a factual leg to stand on. I’d chose Hahn over Lollis on upside, but Lollis still has good stuff and the original equipment in his throwing elbow. Boxberger’s totally capable of having a Torres 2013 type of year for Tampa in 2014. Not only are Decker and Dickerson pretty similar, but Decker might be able to hit RHP like Seth Smith. But when you try to make an entrance like a dime novel cowboy, kicking in the swinging saloon doors and spitting at people’s boots, your analysis gets lost. Nobody’s paying attention to the quality of your thoughts when they’re laughing at your antics.

      • Geoff Young

        This was fun. As always, thanks for reading.

    • Pads Fans

      Bingo! You hit the nail right on the head. See my post above.

  • TheBipper

    I have this feeling they are pushing Cam Maybin out and
    looking at Will Venable as the everyday CF. Cam’s inconsistent bat is always worrisome to me. I think they got Smith to
    replace Venable for Denomith in right field. I still don’t why Cody Decker,
    Nate Freiman, Tommy Medica have to find new positions or get traded but
    Yonder Alonso’s 6 hr, .270 production at 1st base is untouchable.

  • Beersy

    I’m definately drinking the Koolaid. I think this team has a real chance to contend if they can just stay on the field. When your team doesn’t have a chance and injuries hit, it hurts but doesn’t kill you. If injuries dismantle this team it will hurt because there is upside. Go Padres.

  • Tom Waits

    Whoa. Unusually spirited.

    I do think GY undersells the possible value of some of the players we moved. Boxberger/Lollis/Forsythe for Torres? If that move was made by a team we didn’t care about, would anyone quibble with the idea that Tampa sold high while we did the opposite? That’s typically not a way to win trades.

    Dickerson, Decker? Potaato, potahto. I know they weren’t traded for each other, but that’s a case in which I can see CTP’s point. We moved a LH hitter with some skills and flaws and picked up a LH hitter with some skills and flaws.

    Same sort of thing for Smith and Guzman. Smith’s averaged a 103 WRC since 2010, Guzman a 112. Smith fits us better without a doubt, but put Guzman at 1b full time and he could easily be a 2 win player.

    I guess I’d question how much talent was increased and how much was reallocated. Maybe 65/35 increase vs allocation. Or 60 increase, 30 allocation, and 10 just changing the names on the jerseys.

    In the end, the moves discussed in this post are the “general upgrades” part of Byrnes’ plan. If the 2014 Padres are going to compete, it’ll be less because of these dudes and more because of Josh Johnson and improvement from guys who were already on the team.

  • Pads Fans

    BP said Hahn had a ceiling of a #3. BA said Hahn had a ceiling of a #3. Minor League Ball said Hahn had a ceiling of a #3. Scouts.com said he had a ceiling of a back of the rotation starter. MLB.com said he had a ceiling of a #3 starter. Kind of a trend there. Not really worth much in an organization filled with middle to back of the rotation starters including one they traded FOR Hahn who was expected to get at least a cup of coffee in SD in 2014.

    Torres has part of one good season in the Majors. The rest of his career he has had extreme control problems with near 6 BB/9. Most projections place him at between 4-5 and 5.5 BB/9 in 2014. In 2013 at the major league level he had a totally unsustainable babip in the 220s, so we can realistically expect that to jump 80-100 points. He was meh as a starter in the minors. Do you think he can do better than a 3.80 era in 2014? I would be extremely surprised if he does. 3.80 is MEH with a capital everything. He appears to be the Loogy heir apparent to take the place of Thatcher.

    Smith could have been had for a cup of joe and a bag of balls. According to Susan Slusser, it was likely that at the $4.25 to 4.5 million he was expected to earn that he was going to be non-tendered by the A’s who have a surplus of players that can fill his DH/LF niche. He makes Quentin look almost serviceable on defense in LF. Huge fail for Byrnes there. If Smith had been a player without the extreme platoon shift I would have been all for that trade. But as it was…no.

    Boxberger will be a closer for the Rays or another team within a year or two. His stuff is that good. Take a look at contact rate by hitters over the past two seasons. Yes he has had control issues, but nothing any worse than Torres has had and his stuff is better.

    Last but certainly not least, in no metric that matters other than K/9 I can find has Benoit been better than Gregerson over the past 2 seasons. If you can find one, please point it out.

    • pat

      ERA+, K/BB, Inherited Runners Scored%. Also WAR and WPA if you like those.