Padres-Yankees trade benefits both sides
Good trades benefit both teams. A trade should not be judged on a "winner" or "loser" basis. If a trade benefits the clubs involved, it's a good deal. That's my impression of the transaction that sent veteran third baseman Chase Headley from the Padres to the Yankees for prospect Rafael De Paula and infielder Yangervis Solarte. Everybody wins: the clubs and the players.
Headley: It must be remembered that the 30-year-old hit 31 home runs and drove in 115 runs in 2012, playing his home games at pitcher-friendly Petco Park in San Diego. A fractured left thumb in Spring Training last year didn't help him repeat his career year. Headley went on to suffer a torn meniscus in his left knee and ended up with back issues later in the season. With reduced power and durability, his season was virtually lost. Attempting to rebound, Headley has seen his batting average and overall production plummet again this year. Recently, he has been hitting better, and Yankee Stadium could help rejuvenate his offense. A switch-hitter, Headley hits better for average from the left side, but he drives the ball better right-handed. I have always viewed him more as a gap hitter than as a home run threat. Headley doesn't have the softest hands at third base, but he should provide solid, steady defense. At least for the remainder of this season, he provides stability at a position that has been a revolving door since the exit of Alex Rodriguez.
De Paula: A 2010 international free agent from the Dominican Republic, De Paula has a chance to be the key player in this entire trade. For me, De Paula may prove to be a big addition to the pitching depth of the Padres for years to come. He is very athletic, and he has a good, strong and loose arm. De Paula's delivery is uncomplicated from a three-quarters arm slot. He can bring his fastball to 97 mph, but he generally sits at 93 to 94 mph. De Paula is very young and still in development at age 23. If he improves his command and control, he could be pitching out of the No. 2 or No. 3 slot in San Diego's rotation in the future. De Paula has a tight breaking curveball that is in the low 80s, with the makings of an improved changeup. His walk rate is currently at almost four per game, but he is striking out 10 per nine innings. De Paula is aggressive on the mound, as he pounds both sides of the plate and elicits lots of swings and misses. He has enough in the tank to close games if he's needed in that role. His future depends upon his control.
Solarte: At age 27, the switch-hitting Solarte will likely be inserted at third base immediately for the Padres, replacing Headley. The Yankees turned to Solarte this past spring as the answer to their third-base problems. Solarte began the season hitting beyond his norm. A solid hitter for average from both sides of the plate, he had a torrid April hitting .303, but he has regressed every month since. Solarte did hit .296 in May, but his average dropped to .164 in June and .118 in July. Solarte is a good contact hitter, but he can be a bit impatient at the plate. He has a short, measured swing that is well-suited to the big gaps at Petco Park. Solarte doesn't have much power, but he should get his share of doubles. His contact rate makes him very viable in hit-and-run situations. Solarte isn't the greatest defender and could play second base as well as third. He doesn't run with enough speed to be a basestealing threat. Hitting for average is his most advanced tool.