Padres seek long-term value in trade targets

December 11th, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- If there's been a big name mentioned as a trade candidate this winter, he's probably already been linked to the Padres.
That's the nature of the market. It's understandable -- and perhaps it should have been expected. San Diego boasts the sport's top-rated farm system, and general manager A.J. Preller has plenty of organizational depth from which to deal. He also has a number of holes to fill on his big league roster.
"In the industry, there's a lot of other teams that like a lot of our players," Preller said Monday at his first media session from the Winter Meetings. "We've all understood that, at the right point in time, we're going to ... look to move potential players for more established guys."
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But there's an important caveat in the Padres' trade talks this winter: years of club control. San Diego has been rumored as a trade destination for two of the biggest names on the market -- Indians right-hander and Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. But both would become free agents after the 2020 season.
According to people familiar with the team's trade discussions, that's a significant hurdle. The Padres would love to compete in 2019. But they're eyeing '20 as the more realistic option.
No doubt, both Bauer and Realmuto could expedite San Diego's window for contention. But both will also come at a steep price. The Padres might be less likely to meet that price than other more immediate contenders, because they'd be getting one playoff push for their investment, instead of two or more.
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That's also why trade talks with the Mets for once seemed to have legs. New York now appears to have turned its focus toward contention in 2019 and is unlikely to deal Syndergaard. But many viewed the 26-year-old ace as a nice fit because he'd be able to headline the rotation in both '20 and '21.
In any case, the Padres clearly need starting pitching, and they clearly need help on the left side of their infield. Preller will look to add at both spots. And he was quick to say that years of control aren't his sole focus. (Case in point: the Padres' continued interest in Yankees right-hander , who has just one year of control remaining on his deal, but could still prove a beneficial acquisition in the long run.)
"We're open to all different scenarios," Preller said. "Each scenario really depends on what the value is, going back and forth. If we're talking about dealing guys that we feel have a high ceiling and are part of the plan, you're definitely looking for the guy that can have more years of control and factors in, not just for a short-term fit.
"But we've factored in a lot of different options. There's a place for the five-plus players with one year of control. And there's clearly a place for the guys that are a longer fit."

Myers' future remains uncertain
The Padres have yet to decide on their plans for in 2019. But they're nearing something of an artificial deadline.
Myers played left field for most of last season, before shifting to third base for the final month and a half. Preller noted that it's important the team give Myers a sense of how he might be used so he can focus the remainder of his offseason preparation around those plans.
"In conversations with Wil over the next week, we'll try to give him some sense of direction," Preller said. "I think all the possibilities -- set spot in the infield, set spot in the outfield or versatility where he continues to move around the field -- those are all still in play."
Of course, there's another option: Myers remains a prime trade candidate, given the Padres' outfield depth. He'll continue to be shopped -- at least until one of the other outfielders is dealt.
But Preller insisted there's no sense of urgency to move Myers after his 2018 struggles.
"He's had some really nice stretches for us over the course of the last few years," Preller said. "Last season, I think, honestly, because of some of the injuries he had, was a disjointed season. ... He's a guy that's got power, he can steal bases, he's an athlete. It's just hard to find position players that can beat you in multiple ways, and he can do that. He's a definite part of things."

Crucial season awaits banged-up Margot
While playing in the Dominican Republic, Padres center fielder fouled a ball off his left foot and sustained a bone bruise. The injury isn't expected to linger, but Preller noted that Margot's winter-ball season is probably finished.
Instead, Margot will shift his focus toward 2019. An important spring awaits the 24-year-old speedster, after he took a serious step back in 2018.
Margot's struggles put the Padres at an interesting crossroads: According to multiple people in the organization, he isn't guaranteed his place in center field. , who has fully recovered from elbow surgery, is evidently an option to start there instead.
Cordero's defense is nowhere close to Margot's. But the Friars need offense, and Cordero has a much higher upside at the plate. The Padres seem committed to finding regular at-bats for Cordero, who can play all three outfield spots, and that might come at Margot's expense -- unless Margot can turn things around offensively.

• The Rangers claimed second baseman off waivers on Monday, officially bringing his tenure with the Padres to an end. Asuaje was designated for assignment on Friday when the team finalized its deal with right-hander .
In three seasons with San Diego, Asuaje compiled a .240/.312/.329 slash line. He was one of four prospects acquired from the Red Sox in the 2015 deal.
• Preller mentioned that the team has held internal discussions about moving hard-throwing righty to the rotation. Those discussions are still in their infancy, though, and it seems likelier that Stock stays in his role as a multiple-inning option out of the 'pen.
"Honestly, when we signed him, I never would've considered that," Preller said. "But the way he threw last year, it was strikes with three pitches. That's usually a good formula for somebody who can go multiple times through a lineup."
• Preller acknowledged that second baseman had a setback in his recovery from a pulled left hamstring earlier this offseason.
"From that point forward, he's responded pretty well," Preller said. "He's in a good spot right now."