Scouting The Trade Market: Padres’ Position Players

Robertson confirms there have been no extension talks with Yankees
Yankees release Alfonso Soriano

The Yankees came into the All-Star break five games back of the Orioles in the AL East but only 3.5 games back of the Mariners for the second wildcard spot. The problem: they have to jump four teams to get that wildcard spot. Going for the division title figures to be a little easier thanks to all the head-to-head games remaining.

The team’s focus will likely be on pitching at the trade deadline in the wake of Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow injury, but they can’t forget about the offense either. They average only 3.99 runs per game, one-third of a run below the AL average. They’re getting below-average production from every position other than left field, center field, and first base, but they are unable to make changes at some spots due to contract status, iconic status, etc.

Right field and third base are the easiest positions for the Yankees to upgrade. They’re shaken things up a bit by cutting ties with Alfonso Soriano and giving Zelous Wheeler a chance, but that has had negligible impact. The Yankees will need to make a trade (or two) to improve their run-scoring, and one of the teams that will be a seller at the deadline is the Padres, who are currently between GMs. That complicates things. Last week we looked at their pitchers, now let’s look at their position players.

Headley. (Denis Poroy/Getty)
Headley. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

3B Chase Headley
Over the last three weeks or so we’ve heard the Yankees are both “regularly” scouting Headley and not strongly pursing him. Both are probably true. The Padres are terrible and Headley is an obvious trade candidate, so the Bombers have to do their due diligence and get some eyes on him. They don’t have to be knocking down the door trying to trade for him at the same time either.

Headley, 30, is having a miserable season, hitting .226/.296/.350 (87 wRC+) with seven homers and a career-low 7.5% walk rate in 74 games. He has been better of late, going 21-for-63 (.333) with a 109 wRC+ in his last 18 games, which coincidences with his return from four games on the shelf with inflammation near a disc in his lower back. (He received an epidural.) Headley had a monster 2012 season, putting up a .286/.376/.498 (145 wRC+) line with 31 homers, and even last year he hit a solid .250/.347/.400 (113 wRC+) with 13 homers. This season has been a disaster though, and Headley doesn’t believe a simple change of scenery will do the trick.

“Even when things are going full-on crappy, like now, I’m confident that sometime in the near future, I’m going to get healthy, stay healthy and start playing the way I know I’m capable of,” he said to Chris Jenkins recently. “I don’t look at it like, ‘Man, I gotta get out of here to be me again.’ I’m going to be me again, whether it’s here or somewhere else.”

Petco Park is a notorious pitcher’s park, even after the walls were brought in last season. Headley is a career .286/.360/.444 (118 wRC+) hitter on the road (.243/.331/.371 (107 wRC+) at home), including a 154 wRC+ away from Petco Park in 2012 (97 wRC+ on the road from 2013-14). If the Yankees were to acquire Headley, he would be moving from one of the worst hitting parks in the game to one of the best. It would be damn near impossible for his numbers not to improve.

Headley’s struggles this year are not all ballpark related, however. Obviously his back was acting up at some point and that likely hurt his performance. How could it not? He is hitting fewer ground balls this season — 40.3% compared to 46.1% last year and 45.1% career — and the average distance of his batted balls in the air is down a bit from recent years. From Baseball Heat Maps:

Chase Headley Batted Ball Distance

That seems like something that could be explained by the back issues. Headley’s plate discipline numbers are right in line with his career norms and his numbers from both sides of the plate are down as well, so it’s not like he’s been fine as a lefty and brutal as a righty or something like that. Headley isn’t hitting the ball as far (and thus as hard) as he did the last few seasons, which could be attributed to the back injury or something else entirely, like a swing or mechanical problem. It could be both.

On the surface, Headley is a great fit for the Yankees as a switch-hitter with some power and a lot of patience from both side of the plate. He has also consistently graded out as an above-average defender at the hot corner, so he’s a true two-way player. That’s not who Headley is right now though, at least not at the plate. He hasn’t hit this year at all, and while the last few weeks have gone better, that’s not enough to erase three pretty terrible months.

The Padres missed their best opportunity to trade Headley following that huge 2012 campaign. He is due to become a free agent after the season and has about $5M still coming to him in the second half. I can’t imagine the Padres will give him a qualifying offer after the season — the qualifying offer is expected to be north of $15M this winter, and after what happened with Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, I think Headley would accept it in a heartbeat — so it won’t require a ton to get him in a trade. Nothing as valuable as a first round pick, obviously.

The list of rental hitters traded in recent years includes Kevin Youkilis and Shane Victorino, both of whom were once productive players going through disappointing seasons mired with injury concerns. Youkilis netted the Red Sox two fringe big leaguers (Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge) and salary relief while Victorino brought the Phillies a fringe big leaguer (Josh Lindblom), a middling prospect (Ethan Martin), a non-factor player to be named later, and salary relief. Seems like decent framework for a Headley trade, no? He is very much available and I don’t think the Yankees would have much trouble actually acquiring him. The question is whether he will produce in the second half.

(Denis Poroy/Getty)
(Denis Poroy/Getty)

OF Carlos Quentin
One of the many reasons the Padres can’t seem to get out of the gutter are their failed contract extensions. Guys like Cameron Maybin, Cory Luebke, Nick Hundley, and Jeff Gyorko simply haven’t lived up to expectations either due to poor performance or injury. Quentin belongs in that botched extensions group as well, though he was already a veteran and established when San Diego gave him four years and $37M three years ago.

The 31-year-old Quentin is hitting a weak .182/.287/.322 (78 wRC+) this season, though he has only appeared in 45 games due to lingering knee problems. He has played in only 331 of 581 possible games (57%) since 2011 due to ongoing problems with both knees, including four surgeries. Quentin hit .262/.356/.498 (137 wRC+) with 53 homers from 2011-13, so up until this season he had always hit when healthy. He was just never healthy.

The Yankees have zero right-handed power on the roster right now — their right-handed hitters have hit 16 (!) homers all season — and Quentin would provide that, at least in theory. He has always been a patient hitter who draws a healthy amount of walks (10.2% from 2012-14) and gets on base, which is something the Yankees lack in general as well. Quentin has zero base-running value and he’s more or less a DH who can play the outfield, so if he doesn’t hit, he’s useless.

Unlikely Headley, Quentin would not be a rental. He is owed roughly $4.5M through the end of the season plus another $8M next season. Unless the Padres eat a bunch of money like the Cubs did with Alfonso Soriano last year, I’m not sure Quentin is someone the Yankees want on their roster despite their need for righty pop. He should come cheap as a salary dump player, but there is no room for a defensively challenged, injury prone player on the roster.

Venable and Denorfia. (Presswire)
Venable and Denorfia. (Presswire)

OF Chris Denorfia & OF Will Venable
These two don’t have the name value of Headley and Quentin, but they have been quality platoon bats who also provide some value in the field and on the bases. Denorfia, 34, is hitting only .244/.295/.329 (79 wRC+) overall this year, but he has mashed lefties at a .296/.357/.458 (131 wRC+) rate since 2012. It won’t exactly solve the team’s right-handed power problem, but it would help. Denorfia is a rental. He’ll be a free agent after the season.

Like so many of his teammates, the 31-year-old Venable is having an awful year, hitting .201/.258/.277 (54 wRC+) overall. Just last season he managed a .268/.312/.484 (122 wRC+) line, and since 2012 he’s hit .252/.311/.417 (104 wRC+) against righties. Introduce him to Yankee Stadium and the short porch and his power output should tick up. Venable is arbitration-eligible for the fourth time as a Super Two next season, though his salary won’t be anything crazy. He’s making $4.25M this year. A year ago, both Denorfia and Venable would have been solid additions. This year, they aren’t worth much thought because they’ve stunk.

* * *

Outfielder Seth Smith would have been the best fit for the Yankees as a left-handed power-hitter for right field, but San Diego gave him a two-year contract extension two weeks ago. Jon Heyman says the Padres told Smith he will not be traded following the extension, so forget about that. He is hitting .283/.387/.508 (155 wRC+) with ten homers and would have been a wonderful fit as a rental right fielder. Too bad he’s off the table now.

Aside from the prospect of buying super low on Headley and hoping he rebounds in the second half, the Padres don’t have many quality position players to offer in a trade this summer. I’m guessing they would move Quentin today if some team was willing to take on his contract, and neither Denorfia or Venable are impact players even when they’re at their best. They’re just quality role players. If the Yankees can get Headley for a Youkilis or Victorino-esque package, they should be all over him. Other than that, there aren’t many reasons to call San Diego this trade season.

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Robertson confirms there have been no extension talks with Yankees
Yankees release Alfonso Soriano
  • Yangeddard Solarte

    Damnit, the Yanks shouldn’t be even thinking about scouting anyone for fill ins! Other clubs should be scouting them for fill ins. This team needs to rebuild. A Chase Headley won’t make a damn bit of difference to a team with 4 holes in the starting lineup and 4 holes in the rotation. It’d be like if your arm was chopped off and you tried to stop the bleeding with a band aid.

    • Gman

      AMEN

    • Farewell Mo

      I’d just as soon wait till the offseason and sign Headley as a FA than give up anything for him for the last 60 games of the season.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        When sportzphan brought up the Jorge de la Rosa the other night, my rule was that I would be glad to deal one from the “lower level minor leaguer who never gets a DOTF mention” pile for him.

        I’d go higher than that on Headley, but not by much. Maybe a stalled prospect or something. Can someone fetch me Angelo Gumbs a sec?

        • Farewell Mo

          Yeah, I’d go along with that line of thinking.
          No sense throwing good money after bad unless the price is real cheap.

        • Gman

          So you really think acquiring Headley will make us a contender? Yangeddard nailed it right on the head.

          #sellmode

          • I’m One

            Clearly no one thinks that Headley alone would make this year’s team a contender (I hope). But 3B production has been terrible and he would probably be an upgrade at a very low cost. And he’s only a rental. I’d take him at the right price (Gumbs?)

            • RetroRob

              Third base has been so bad for the Yankees that even ad damaged Headley is an improvement. Scary.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            I think dealing for Headley would allow the team to get a close look at him and decide whether they want to continue the relationship after the season. I’m not dealing anyone who I think stands a reasonable chance of really helping in the next couple of years for him. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t trade someone who stands a chance of playing a small role for the team moving forward.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Also, like I said, I’d also be interested in him not going to Toronto.

              I wouldn’t lose sleep if they didn’t acquire him, though.

  • Gman

    If we can’t buy, maybe we should do what the Sox did a few years ago with Beckett, Gonzo, and Crawford and just sell?

    Seriously, even if we get players like Headley and/or Quentin, will that make us serious contenders? I just don’t know.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      It just so easy to do what the Sox did a few years ago. So easy that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team to a one-stop dump of that magnitude before, ever, nor do I think anyone will ever do it again.

      And who exactly do you dump in this fantasy one-stop-dump scenario? And to whom?

      Lazy.

      • Gman

        Lazy???

        All I said was for us to sell. Put down the sangria and relax Jorge

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          “If we can’t buy, maybe we should do what the Sox did a few years ago with Beckett, Gonzo, and Crawford and just sell?”

          Explain to me:

          1. How you do that in 2014.
          2. Who you include in this dump.
          3. Who takes them off your hands.
          4. How exactly this makes the team better.

          I’d love some sangria. I’d need a mint afterwards, though.

          • Gman

            Robertson is definitely tradeable

            Betances is also very tradeable

            Phelps is tradeable

            I’m sure they can also trade Tex if they eat some of the money.

            Gardner is also tradeable

            There’s five guys you could trade and most of them can get you back good to great prospects for the future

            • ac1

              What people don’t seem to get is we cannot just trade away our best and youngest players. We aren’t the Cubs. We dont have other people to jump in and replace them. It would make ZERO sense to trade Betances. If Robertson doesn’t resign, Betances is our closer moving forward. If Robertson does resign, there is a chance he moves to the rotation. Phelps may be tradeable, but with no proven track record of success, what do you think you can really get back for him? Also with Phelps, right now he is the ONLY sure bet for our 2015 opening day rotation. We cannot afford to give up pitchers. Tex has a NTC, we are stuck with him. Gardner is tradeable yes, but again, why? He has a ‘reasonable’ four year contract. Leave him and Ellsbury and deal with RF later.

              On Robertson, Yankees need to get off their asses and extend him ASAP.

              • Gman

                True on Robertson. If Yanks don’t trade him, EXTEND HIM NOW!!

                As far as Betances, why move him to the rotation? Unlike Joba, he wasn’t successful as a starter. Remember, they put him in the pen for a reason. LEAVE HIM IN THE PEN!!!!

                • Steve (different one)

                  What is the difference between extending DRob now or in November?

                  • ChuckIt

                    There isn’t any difference. That’s just the way the Yankees handle it.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                Yes you can trade your youngest players and, if you want the best possible return, you absolutely trade them first.

                This “trade the guys we don’t like” stuff is hilarious. That’s not selling, and that doesn’t get you anything in return that gets you anywhere near competing.

                If you want to get value, damn straight you’re trading Gardner. Damn straight you’re dealing Betances. Damn straight you’re trading Robertson, and that you’re eating a ton of money and dealing Ellsbury. That’s maximum impact selling.

                Of course, I condone no such thing.

                • Revan

                  No one cares about either what you condone or the holier than thou attitude in which you are forcing upon us.

                  • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

                    You be careful or I’ll sic Malak on your ass.

                    :)

            • Rob

              If you trade Betances you are crazy, Young, cheap and can handle NY

              • Gman

                I love Betances but finding relief pitchers is much easier than any other position. His value is at an all time high and I’d only include for someone like a David Price.

                But out of the five I mentioned, he’s the one I like the most

                • W.B. Mason Williams

                  It’s a very fine line you’re walking though. When you say “sell”, do you sell anyone with any value? Trying to shop guys like Kuroda is easy because he’s on the way out the door anyway after this year, but Betances? Young, elite and team controlled as far as the eye can see? It’s very realistic for someone to say that trading him is hurting the long term future of the team. And I think while good relievers are probably the most common player, a player like Betances is not just something you find. Like, he’s historically all-time good. Like I said, selling him could be bad for the future.

                  • Jorge Steinbrenner

                    If you want to maximize the impact of selling, you sell anyone who potentially gets you additional pieces.

                    This is where rebuilding can get dangerous, though.

                    I just think a nice, adjusted, improved for 2014 version of the Yankee Way would be so much better.

                  • Ed

                    And I think while good relievers are probably the most common player, a player like Betances is not just something you find. Like, he’s historically all-time good.

                    That’s pretty much the reason you do consider trading him. The odds of him pitching this well long term are very low. If you find someone who thinks he really is this good and is valuing him that way in a trade package, you kind of have to consider making the deal.

                    • W.B. Mason Williams

                      All I’m asking is that people consider both sides of the coin.

            • I’m One

              Robertson wouldn’t bring much, nor would Teix, even after eating some salary. Phelps has limited value (although he still has a few years of control) and Betances is still a rookie reliever. He has more value to this team (this year and going forward) than he would in trade.

              Gardner would possibly bring back the most, but then you’re hoping that the pieces you get in return are able to perform when you need them (when the rest of the pieces are also performing). This is not simple to do.

              • Gman

                Good points…. This team is not in a great position right now. A lot has gone wrong

                • Jorge Steinbrenner

                  They’re not in a good position, and they’re in a shittier position if Tanaka’s rehab doesn’t work.

                  I just do not think the type of selling some folks are advocating makes things any better, at all. It’s a cathartic release. :)

              • Jorge Steinbrenner

                Robertson may bring you two B guys. Maybe.

                They want to lose the pieces they don’t like and, somehow, get value for them. If they want value, then they advocate for trading the pieces they like and everyone likes.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Thank you.

              And, even though I don’t think there’s a prayer of this happening, and that this is all intelletual excersise, I’m glad you realize that selling actually means selling the pieces that hurt.

              Sorry if I was a bit tough. Clearly, I need that sangria.

              • Gman

                ;-)

            • WFAN Caller

              The Red Sox shed over $250MM in salary in that trade.

              In the trade(s) you proposed, even if the Yankees include Teixeira (who is pretty untradeable unless the Yankees eat money), the Yankees would shed ~$110M, $56M of that being the Tex investment – which they won’t be able to dump.

              The other chunk is the very affordable Brett Gardner and is average salary of $12M per, which is a bargain in my opinion.

              Some GM’s might seem dumb, but not dumb enough to accept this type of trade.

  • Brett is Bubbas Son

    Chase had changed his grip before last year due to a hand injury and he switch back to the old one on July 1st which is when his recent hot streak started, SSS warning.

    http://www.kffl.com/gnews.php?.....o-old-grip

  • Farewell Mo

    Mike is like a damn vulture picking through the carcass of the 2014 Padres, isn’t he?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I had no idea, with my Rizzuto-ish knowledge of the non-Mets NL, that they were THIS bad.

      I’d deal fringe for Headley, but I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll get someone like Toronto to overpay at the deadline. Still like him on a pillow contract in the off-season.

      • Farewell Mo

        My fantasy league is AL only this year so I’m also pretty out of touch with the NL.

  • the Other Steve S.

    Pretty dreary

  • BTG

    Would Quentin come along with his poo-colored uniform?

    • I’m One

      I realize you’re not advocating for Quentin, but I wouldn’t touch him with a 10 foot pole. We already have Beltran, who seemingly brings the same skills (DH only with injury concerns going forward).

  • Bill

    These points are well taken. I’d rather the Yankees bring up Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder and see what we have there. Pirela can play RF with Ichiro and Refsnyder can play 2B. I’d keep Wheeler and Solarte here and platoon them at 3B. Then it’s a case of which infielder you release, Johnson or Roberts. Ironically, Roberts probably would be the odd man out, since he only plays one position, even though he’s been the more productive of the two. Johnson can play four position, granted a couple of them not that well, but he can at least fill in to give guys a day off. Pirela, Wheeler and Solarte can play multiple positions, so you’ve got some flexibility along with youth. Can’t be any worse than what you have now.

    • ac1

      Agreed. Forget trading everyone. We have players who can come up, if Cashman would just pull the damn trigger. This way, you hold your young players like Betances and Robertson, Phelps, etc and you still get younger. Rebuilding doesnt have to mean trading away anyone with talent and under the age of 30.

      • I’m One

        I’d have no issue bring Pirela up for RF, but I’m not sure Refsnyder is an upgrade over Roberts this season, due to his lack of experience at 2B.

        • RetroRob

          Agreed. Pirela fine and Almonte, too. Let’s see what they can offer. They have nothing left to learn in AAA and they might be able to help the big club in some form or manner this year and next, either on the field or as trade material.

          I’d leave Refsnyder in AAA for the simple reason he’s the better prospect and is still learning. We can wait until September for a call up.

  • Robert

    Youth is an upgrade over an 40yr old 2B and the Ancient Mariner that is playing RF.

    We are not winning the World Series this year.

    Id have more respect for the Yankee management if they just realized this and moved forward.

  • ChuckIt

    While I agree the Yankees need to upgrade at quite a few positions,I don’t think San Diego is the place to look.ANy type of trade would only make them better.Their lineup makes the current Yankees look like Murderers Row.

    • Farewell Mo

      I’d be leery about trading for any of their pitchers but getting a position player out of the yellowstone sized park they play in may be worthwhile.

  • Les

    Just what this club needs a third baseman that is already injured. Great choice. Just like Cliff Lee. Please don’t suggest anymore unhealthy players, because when they get to NY they go to Rehab. We need Cole Hamels and Wade Miley and martin Prado

    • Bill O

      I agree, trading for guys with injury concerns makes no sense for this team. I don’t think we have any realistic shot at Hamels and probably not Miley. Prado makes a ton of sense though as his value is low right now, he’s healthy, he is a good defender at 3B with positional flexibility, he is right handed and he is signed beyond this year (so helps us next year after the team inevitably falls short this year).