Squint your eyes and you can see the makings of a powerhouse. The Padres have the game’s best and deepest farm system, much like the Yankees a year or two ago, and the Yankees rode that farm system to quicker than expected contention in 2017. San Diego’s farm system is absurd. They don’t have the same financial resources as the Yankees, but their prospect base is the best in the sport.
All winter long the Padres have indicated they want to use that prospect base to improve their big league roster. They’ve been connected to Noah Syndergaard and Corey Kluber, among others, so they’re not thinking small. It seems weird, a rebuilding team trading prospects for a veteran, but not every prospect will work out and it’s only smart to cash some in as trade chips before they flame out. The tricky park is knowing who to keep and who to trade.
Among the players the Padres have expressed interest in this offseason is Miguel Andujar. Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman recently reported San Diego has Andujar on their radar, and remember, they wanted Andujar for Brad Hand at the trade deadline. The Yankees are said to be open to moving their young third baseman, though that was within the context of that potential Noah Syndergaard/J.T. Realmuto three-team blockbuster.
It makes sense that San Diego would have interest in Andujar. For starters, he’s really good, and he’s under control another five years. Every teams wants a Miguel Andujar of their own. Secondly, the Padres haven’t had a steady full-time third baseman since the first time they had Chase Headley. Nineteen different players played at least one game at third base for the Padres over the last four seasons. Nineteen! Andujar would put an end to that revolving door.
The Padres have pretty much everything a team could need in their farm system except a soon-to-be MLB ready third baseman. Yeah, they could put top prospects Fernando Tatis Jr. or Luis Urias at the hot corner, but those guys are middle infielders, and they’re going to remain there. Putting one at third opens upon a hole on the middle infield. The Padres need a third baseman and Andujar is one of the top young third basemen in the game. It fits.
Andujar is a great fit for the Padres. The Padres are not a great fit — or even a good fit, I’d say — for the Yankees as a trade partner. Why? Their Major League talent base stinks. It stinks. Lefty reliever Jose Castillo is pretty awesome but you can’t trade Andujar for a package fronted by a reliever. Eric Hosmer just hit .253/.322/.398 (95 wRC+) and has seven years and $124M remaining on his contract. Wil Myers gives you Andujar defense without Andujar offense. Outfielders like Manny Margot and Hunter Renfroe don’t make much sense for the outfield heavy Yankees. The Padres don’t have much else to offer.
San Diego’s farm system is incredible and, in a vacuum, they could easily cobble together a prospect package good enough to get Andujar. This isn’t a vacuum though. The Yankees are the ultimate win now team and they can’t trade their starting third baseman (and one of their top hitters) for prospects. Sign Manny Machado to play third and trade Andujar for prospects? Okay, but why not sign Machado and keep Andujar at his near league minimum salary and not weaken the MLB roster? Crazy, I know.
Anyway, if the Padres want Andujar, there’s really only way this makes sense for the Yankees. It would have to be a three-team trade. Andujar to the Padres, Padres prospects to some third team, and a big leaguer(s) from that third team to the Yankees. Something like that. Andujar to the Padres, prospects to the Mets, Syndergaard to the Yankees. It would have to be something along those lines. Even then the Yankees would almost certainly have to sign Machado to come out ahead and not just break even.
I suppose the Yankees could trade Andujar for prospects and then trade those prospects for MLB help at the later date. That’s not really a three-team trade but it kinda is. My point is, the Yankees shouldn’t trade Andujar simply to restock the farm system. I know his defense is bad, believe me, but that’s a terrible reason to trade him for prospects and weaken the MLB roster. The Yankees need Andujar to contend in 2019. Why trade for a potential future Andujar when you have the real Andujar right in front of you, ready to help you win games?
The Yankees have built an enviable young position player core in a relatively short period of time and I am all-in on building around bats. Build around bats and buy pitching, especially when you have the Yankees’ financial firepower. I’m not saying I would make Andujar untouchable. Hardly. I just wouldn’t trade him for prospects. I want an impact big leaguer(s) in return and the Padres have literally none to offer. Their best trade currency is prospects, and unless the Yankees and Padres can figure out a three-team deal, sending Andujar to San Diego for prospects is a step backwards.