Like many teams this offseason, the San Diego Padres saw their payroll increase dramatically with the help of a new media deal. However, the bang for the buck has been miserable so far for the Padres. No offense has been anemic, even the Braves offense, and despite a park that helps produce great pitching, the Padres can’t keep the score low enough for their offense to score enough runs.
Even though the Padres were not expected to be big contenders in the West, this level of poor play has already cost Josh Byrnes his job in his second stint as a major league GM. Clearly, the Padres are in rebuilding mode and they would like to cash in with some talent for their unproductive ballclub. Could the Braves be intrigued?
Let’s start with the future free agents. Closer Huston Street is making $7M this season and has a 0.96 ERA over 28 games. In his third season with the Padres, Street is controllable with a $7M team option for next season. Even if he has been as productive as he ever has been, I can’t see the Braves being very interested in that salary or asking price teams would have to agree to to acquire Street. There is already expected to be a lot of interest for Street from teams with worse late-inning options than the Braves.
Back in the NL West, corner outfielder Seth Smith has been superb, OPSing over .900. Those numbers get even better when you take out his at-bats against lefties, who he simply can’t hit. In the middle of a one-year, $4.5M contract that covers his final year of arbitration, could the Braves be intrigued by adding Smith? I’m sure they could be. He would simply replace the often ineffective Jordan Schafer on the team, though it would force Jason Heyward into a position where he is the backup center fielder. Nevertheless, Smith could provide a legitimate alternative to playing B.J. Upton night-in, night-out and provide some left-handed thunder to the bottom of the order. Like Street, though, other teams could be very excited about the prospect of trading for Smith, which theoretically would increase the Padres’ bargaining position, even if people like Omar Minaya are making the call. I would file Smith under the “would love it, not sure if truly possible.”
While the Padres have a few other pending free agents, I don’t think they would interest the Braves. And I don’t buy them being interested in Joaquin Benoit due to the price, both in money and package of prospects. On the flip-side, while the Braves might be interested in relievers Dale Thayer or lefty Alex Torres, the Padres probably don’t want to trade the cheap, team-controlled players without getting prospects in return. Maybe if the Braves were willing to offer a prospect of significance for Smith, they would demand Thayer or Torres and the Padres would agree because of the prospect they are getting in return. However, short of Lucas Sims or Jose Peraza, I don’t know of a prospect that the Braves would put on the table.
With all of that in mind, I would be majorly surprised if the Braves agree with a deal with the Padres.