It’s time to play f*ck, marry, kill with the Padres pitchers and catchers. Pardon my crassness, but I couldn’t think of a better name, and anyway, how can I be creative at a time like this? Yasmany Tomas has still not signed with a team, the Padres are still being linked to him as a strong contender, and in late-breaking Sunday night I-should-be-asleep-but-I-have-to-write-this-stupid-blog-post news, John Heyman reports that the Padres have entered the Pablo Sandoval Pan-derby. It’s Panda-monium! Puns! Heavy-ish baseball players! Wooooo!
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 17, 2014
— Nathan Veale (@VocalMinorityNV) November 17, 2014
So that’s all fun and good and not happening, but there are other things to talk about that are actually possibly/probably going to happen this off-season, and I wanna talk about that stuff in a stupid way.
The Padres are reportedly listening to offers for their top 3 pitchers, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and Ian Kennedy, and their top 3 catchers, Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, and Austin Hedges. I want to figure out which one they should simply keep, which one they should offer a contract extension, and which one they should attempt to trade. So I’m gonna play FMK with both positions.
FMK is a game where you name 3 nouns and then decide which of the nouns you would rather fornicate with, which one you would marry, and which one you would kill. It’s kind of dumb and played out, but it’s catchier than “hold, extend, trade,” which is what the options mean in a baseball context, so I’m just going to own it and accept that I have a part of myself that’s kind of a douche bag.
F*ck: Ian Kennedy.
I think the Padres should hold on to Ian Kennedy through July, at least. Because he’s entering the last year of arbitration, will earn approximately $10 million in arbitration, and doesn’t have flashy stats like an ERA in the 2’s or a 97 mph fastball, Ian Kennedy’s trade value is limited. Shedding his salary would mean extra money to spend this off-season, but the return is unlikely to improve the team if the goal is competing for the playoffs in 2015.
On the other hand, Kennedy will likely give you 200 innings, close to 200 strikeouts, and somewhere between 2.5-3 fWAR, which makes him well worth the $10 million he’ll be owed. He’s a solid mid-rotation arm: not enough value to trade, not enough potential to extend. Just keep him and hope the team is good enough that you can offer him a qualifying offer next November that he will decline in favor of a 4 year, $52 million contract with the Brewers. Or someone else.
Marry: Tyson Ross
Tyson Ross has 3 years of team control remaining. Tyson Ross has never had a significant injury to his throwing arm. People will worry that Tyson Ross’ 2014 was a fluke and the team should sell high on him now or ride him out for a year at $5 million to see what happens, but you and I both know that Tyson Ross was just as good in the 2nd half of 2013 that he was in 2014, and it’s a good bet that he’ll be the same guy in 2015 that he was in 2014.
If the Padres wait until the end of 2015 to make a decision on Ross, they lose leverage and we get another situation where the Padres will look back wishing they acted back when they could have gotten a better deal. If you extend him now on a 5 year deal, you buy out his arb years for something like $23 million and then offer $12 million a year for his 2 free agent years, and you end up with a 5 year contract that averages less than $10 million per season, which is nothing for what appears to be a 3 fWAR pitcher.
Of course, offering 4-5+ year extensions to starting pitchers is risky business, and he could end up blowing out his arm shortly after, but the good news is that he’s never done it before, so maybe he won’t, and if he does at least he has a chance of coming back as a starter.
Kill: Andrew Cashner.
Everybody loves Andrew Cashner. He throws hard, he has a low ERA, he’s got weird hair, he likes to bunt for base hits, pinch-hit or run in a pinch, or even play left field if needed. He also gets hurt a lot. He might still be better off as a late-inning reliever. He’s been successful as a starter, but he hasn’t been able to log enough innings to make them worth a whole lot.
He also doesn’t benefit that much from his high velocity fastball. If you had no idea he threw 95+ consistently, you’d never be able to guess it from his stats. He just doesn’t get the strikeouts he should, and he scatters a lot of hits. His stuff plays more like a low-90’s guy than a high-90’s guy.
Cashner has two years of team control left, will make about $5 million in 2015, and while he still has ace potential, his likelihood of ever reaching that potential isn’t much higher than when Josh Byrnes traded a first division first baseman for him a few winters ago. Byrnes isn’t the only dreamer in baseball though, and Cashner, having proven he can be a front line starter in short stints, has more value now than he did three years ago. It’s time to trade him and his potential to a team willing to overpay for him. Maybe the Rangers. Maybe somewhere else.
F*ck: Austin Hedges
Austin Hedges is a badass defensive catcher, could catch MLB pitching right now and probably throw out 40% of base-stealers. His hitting, however, isn’t developing, and when the team prospect rankings come out this winter, he’ll likely lose his spot at the top of the Padres lists to power-hitting corner outfielder Hunter Renfroe. He could fall behind others too. The lack of hitting is concerning.
He’s still only 22 years old, and a lot can happen in the next 3 years that could turn him into a perennial All-Star. Should the Padres just throw him into a trade package to win now only to see him become the best catcher in baseball in 5 years for the Braves while the Padres are stuck with a couple wild-card game losses and a Justin Upton contract extension they’re regretting in the same way they’re regretting Carlos Quentin’s current contract? I’d rather be a Maze Runner than live in that future world. Hang on to Hedges, let him develop, let others give up on him too soon. You’ll have the last laugh.
Marry: Yasmani Grandal
Did you see what Grandal did to the baseball in the 2nd half of 2014? A 128 wRC+, highlighted by a 165 wRC+ in September. He ended up with 15 home runs in 443 plate appearances, after coming back too soon from his ACL injury and struggling for a lot of the season. That kind of power coupled with strong game-calling and pitch-framing is a recipe for a break-out season in 2015.
Grandal is still a year away from arbitration and will make less than a million bucks next season. That’s 4 years of team control. Buy them out! Extend him now before he breaks out and becomes a top 5 catcher and super expensive. If it doesn’t work out, you can dump him in a couple years when the younger model, Hedges, is ready. That’s how marriage in the modern world works. Just don’t have kids or give him a no-trade clause.
Kill: Rene Rivera
Rene Rivera is a great story. Did you know he was drafted by the Mariners all the way back in 2001, and this past season was his first full season in the majors? Did you know he was known for his defense and tremendous pitch-framing, but wasn’t expected to do much of anything on offense, only to finish the year with 11 home runs and a 114 wRC+? Did you know that he became both Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross’ personal catcher, stealing the starting catching job away from Grandal even after Grandal’s knee was fully healed? Yeah, it really is a great story.
He’s also 31 years old. Grandal just turned 26. Hedges is 22. As the league puts an emphasis on pitch-framing, Rivera has value, but for the Padres, he’s just holding the younger guys with more potential back. Rivera should be a starting catcher in the league in 2015, but he shouldn’t be the starting catcher for the Padres. Trade him now before he reverts back to a below average hitter and umpires learn how to avoid being tricked by pitch-framing.
To recap: I want to trade Cashner and Rivera, stand pat on Kennedy and Hedges, and extend Ross and Grandal. Of course, nobody’s off-limits in a trade, and if it makes sense, I’d trade any of them. Also, we’re not signing Pablo Sandoval and we’d be better off just bringing Chase Headley back since we wouldn’t have to give up our first round pick to get hi,…or trading for Adrian Beltre or Luis Valbuena. Also also, I’m still not giving up hope on Yasmany Tomas. You could say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope one day that you’ll join me, and blah blah blah.
The Vocal Minority is a sub-blog for a blog called Padres Public. Sub-blog is kind of a silly concept. Why do we keep up this charade? Follow me on Twitter, where I give away my best jokes for free. RIP Diem Brown. CT + Diem 4eva.