Padres have flexibility in Draft, thanks to trade

Deal for reliever Hughes provides San Diego with Day 1 selection

June 3rd, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- A week ago, the Padres dealt for Phil Hughes. But that portion of the trade was always secondary. They really traded for the No. 74 pick in today's Draft -- and all the bells and whistles that come with it.
When the Padres signed during the offseason, they forfeited their second-round pick. They also forfeited the approximate $1.45 million value of that pick in their bonus pool. It was money they could no longer use to sign their Draft picks.
Under general manager A.J. Preller, the Padres have been one of the most active teams in pursuing deals to acquire comp picks -- the only types of picks that can be traded. In 2018, with the Padres already down a Draft selection, it took on even more significance.
"It was like one of the alarms on my phone," Preller said. "Every week, call the teams with the comp picks."

Enter Hughes. The Twins designated the righty reliever for assignment earlier in May. They appeared destined to eat the $22 million or so remaining on his contract. Then Preller called.
Negotiations were relatively straightforward. How much of Hughes' salary would the Padres be willing to eat? The two sides settled on $7.25 million for the 2019 season.
"Excitement," said scouting director Mark Conner, when asked for his reaction to the trade. "It just allows more flexibility. ... The more picks we get, the more money we get, the more fun we get to have."
There's a chance Hughes could become a worthwhile reliever in the Padres 'pen. Sure, he owns a 6.59 ERA in nine appearances this season. But the Padres have had success revitalizing pitchers post-thoracic outlet surgery. Two-fifths of their rotation -- and -- were once thoracic outlet patients.
Make no mistake, however. The "Phil Hughes trade" wasn't the "Phil Hughes trade" at all in the eyes of the San Diego front office.
The Padres added a Day 1 Draft pick, and Preller is clearly bullish on his scouting department's ability to evaluate talent. As important, they added $812,200 to their bonus pool. Conner now has $10,462,200 to spend on selections in the top 10 rounds (plus any bonus greater than $125,000 later in the Draft). That's the seventh largest pool in baseball.
"The game now is about making your money work for you," Preller said. "... The group that's doing the calculations, looking at our budget, is important. You have to figure out what's the best bang for your buck. Having the extra pick gives you more options."
In short: the Padres will select 42 baseball players in the Draft. They'd like to make certain that most of those 42 players end up in their organization. They now have a bit more wiggle room to ensure that that happens.
Wiggle room. Also known as money.
"There's a lot of excitement from the agents," Preller quipped.
The Draft begins today with the first two rounds (and their ensuing comp rounds). MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks, while will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. The Padres will select seventh, 38th (in the competitive balance round) and 74th. will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Tuesday with a preview show beginning at 9:30 a.m. PT. On Wednesday, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on beginning at 9 a.m. PT.
"If you have a really good Draft, you look up in three or four years, and there's always an impact," Preller said. "Same thing if you don't have quite as good a Draft. And the more times you pick, the more chances you have to impact the system."
The Padres now have an extra pick, and they have extra money to secure those picks. And they have Phil Hughes.