Jul 22, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley (12) plays the field during the ninth inning of a game against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Examining the Chase Headley trade

The New York Yankees have made the move to acquire San Diego Padres third basemen Chase Headley in the hope he will be a valuable contributor for their stretch-run. On the flip side, the Padres have finally dealt Headley, who’s a free-agent at end of the season, for half-year wonder Yangervis Solarte and minor-league arm Rafael De Paula.

Finally, the Padres have rid themselves of Headley, although, it’s way too late. After his phenomenal 2012 season in which he was a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger recipient, the Padres’ front office should’ve realized the aberration and cashed in big. However, that’s not usually how major-league organization operate. Quintessentially teams hold on to guys who have a big year, despite the statistics indicating it was a “fluke,” in fear of upsetting the fans and the lost revenue. To sum it up, not everyone has the audacity of Billy Beane. Nevertheless, this is the ramification of waiting as long as they did. Instead of acquiring a game-changing piece or two, San Diego is stuck with two mid-level prospects.

Solarte is certainly not the .865 OPS player we saw in April, but then again, he’s probably not the .495 OPS player we saw the month of June, either. Based on his minor-league track record, I’d say it wouldn’t be suspect to see him churn anywhere from a .650-.750 OPS with the Padres. Of course, you have to take into account the spaciousness of PETCO Park which should hurt Solarte’s offensive production. The switch-hitting utility man is superior against right-handed pitching, and his versatility likely will be extremely beneficial to Bud Black. Yet, at the same time, his defense isn’t great. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Solarte relegated to a backup infielder role over time.

De Paula, on the other hand, has been oddly volatile his three years in the Yankees’ organization. Below are his numbers through the years.

2012 Rookie Ball Yankees 1- 1.46 ERA, 1.78 FIP, .254 BABIP, 61 and 2/3 innings

2013 Single-A Charleston- 2.94 ERA, 2.32 FIP, .305 BABIP, 64 and 1/3 innings

2013 Single-A+ Tampa- 6.06 ERA, 4.67 FIP, .345 BABIP, 49 innings

2014 Single-A+ Tampa- 4.15 ERA, 3.34 FIP, .347 BABIP, 89 innings

The 23-year-old flat-out dominated the first two venues, but struggled once reaching High-A Tampa. Upon further investigating, however, we can see De Paula was a bit unlucky that year. The right-hander’s K/9 (9.18) was down and BB/9 (5.51) way up, and his BABIP and LOB% (65.9%) (left on base percent) were unsustainable. So it was no surprise to see him bounce back the next year. That said, his performance to this point has been mediocre — especially considering he’s going up against Single-A hitters. Hopefully the Padres see more of the person whom flew through the first two levels with relative ease. He has the potential to be a solid starter/reliever down the road, though, nothing is a guarantee.

De Paula and Solarte are not locks by any stretch of the imagination, and instead fit the profile of huge question marks. But I suppose something is better than nothing, and the “Friars” should be satisfied with the return based on Headley’s recent play.

Headley has mustered a pedestrian .229/.296/.355 slash in 307 plate appearances this season, which is significantly different from his career .266/.346/.410 clip. His struggles this season are in part credited to his semi-unsustainable .285 BABIP, but, in reality, his declining walk percentage and zone-swing percentage have been driving forces behind his lackluster offensive year. A change of scenery should do Chase some good, although, I’m hesitant to say moving out of the Padres’ notorious pitcher sanctuary, also known as PETCO Park, will have a profound effect on his performance considering he’s been much better at home this season. And let’s not forget we all thought Brian McCann‘s sweet left-handed swing was perfect for Yankee Stadium, and he would see an exceptional spike in the numbers. How’s that working out, again?

Headley’s offense, like Rafael De Paula’s career, has been unpredictable. It’s hard to know exactly how Headley will produce in a Yankees uniform, or next year, or five years from now. However, despite his offensive “decline,” the 30-year-old third basemen consistently brings stellar defense. It’s one of the main reasons Brian Cashman acquired him, as it is a stable facet of his game. He provides value to New York regardless if he’s swinging the bat well or not, and that’s appealing to any team — let alone one in contention like the Bronx Bombers.

Given the Yankees and Padres different position, philosophy, and resources, this seems to be sensible for both parties. I’m unsure how much more they could have gotten for Headley, but I do know this; the Padres should have dealt Headley two years ago.

But, hey; woulda, coulda, shoulda.

 

Tags: Chase Headley New York Yankees Rafael De Paula San Diego Padres Yangervis Solarte

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