The San Diego Padres are languishing near the bottom of the NL West once again, which means general manager A.J. Preller figures to be busy as the trade deadline approaches.
After heading into last season with high hopes, the Padres had more modest expectations this year. San Diego has had a few bright spots, most notably the emergence of All-Star Wil Myers, but they have been unable keep pace with perennial National League West top dogs the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. Facing yet another season of playing out the string in August and September, the Padres will be looking to add young prospects at the expense of trading away players on their major league roster.
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The Padres have a trio of players who could be enticing to teams in the pennant hunt. In recent days, Derek Norris, Melvin Upton Jr. and Matt Kemp have been rumored to be available for the right price. Norris might be the most expendable, with hot hitting catching prospect Austin Hedges tearing up Triple-A. Hedges, who was on the disabled list early in the season has hit .389 with 14 home runs, and 45 RBI in just 36 games with the El Paso Chihuahuas. It should be only a matter of time before Norris is jettisoned to make room for the Padres catcher of the future.
Moving Upton Jr. and Matt Kemp could prove a bit more complicated for GM A.J. Preller given their on-field track record and contract situation. However with former first round pick Hunter Renfroe knocking on the door to the majors, one or both players could be expendable. Upton, Jr. has enjoyed a career resurgence in San Diego and could offer a contender a unique blend of power and speed. Lest we not forget Upton Jr. has playoff experience in leading the Tampa Bay Rays to the World Series in 2008. Given Upton Jr.’s All-Star caliber first half, the price will certainly be high for any team wishing to acquire his services.
Kemp, on the other hand, will surely be shopped to any team who will answer the phone. His numbers have been respectable this year, but carries an albatross contract that will give teams major pause before trading for him. After this year Kemp is still due a mind numbing the years and $64.5 million, which will limit his ability to be moved. In order to move Kemp, the Padres will likely have to eat a large portion of his contract and could limit the return San Diego receives.
This years trade deadline is pivotal for A.J. Preller after last years ultimate swing and miss. He is now tasked with retooling his team on the fly with an eye towards the 2017 season. Preller has never met a trade he didn’t like, so the Padres will definitely be a team to watch as the trade deadline draws near.