The Padres have already landed MLB Pipeline's top-ranked catching prospect ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. And they might not be done dealing.
Moments after San Diego sent relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to Cleveland for Triple-A catcher Francisco Mejia, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported that the Padres have drawn serious interest on two other pitchers: righty reliever Kirby Yates (the presumed closer in Hand's absence) and righty starter Tyson Ross.
• Padres land prized prospect Mejia for Hand
Hand was unquestionably the most coveted Padres trade candidate. But he certainly wasn't the only one, and general manager A.J. Preller could be very active over the next 12 days.
"There will be conversations up until the Deadline," Preller said. "Honestly, sometimes you have a lot of discussions and nothing lines up. Sometimes something comes through in a few hours. ... We'll continue to be active. We've got to get our big league club in a better position here at the Major League level. So we'll keep looking for deals that we feel like will get us better."
Yates has been outstanding this season, with a 1.43 ERA in 37 2/3 innings. But he's under team control through 2020, and the Padres clearly value him highly.
"Brad went to the All-Star Game in D.C. -- I think Kirby was equally deserving," Preller said. "He's performed, the last two years, like arguably a top 10 reliever in the game."
Yates' success story is similar to Hand's. Yates, too, was an April waiver claim. After arriving in San Diego, he developed a new pitch -- a splitter -- and has used it to astounding success. In 93 1/3 frames since joining the Padres, Yates has struck out 135 hitters.
If teams aren't willing to meet the high price tag on Yates, Ross is a likelier trade option. He owns a 4.32 ERA in 19 starts and is a free agent after the season.
Ross has been the Padres' most reliable starter during the first half of the season, though two poor starts at the beginning of July saw his ERA jump by more than a run. It's been a triumphant return for Ross, who missed the 2016 season with a shoulder injury and struggled in '17 after surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome.
Ross and Yates aren't the only two players with apparent trade value. Right-hander Craig Stammen, outfielder Travis Jankowski and perhaps others could draw interest in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, the Padres -- coming off a 40-59 first half -- will turn their on-field focus toward the future.
"Where we're at in the standings, the second part of the year will be [about] looking at improvement from our club, looking at improvement from individuals and giving opportunities to guys that have some talent," Preller said. "We'll see if we can find the next Brad Hand or the next Adam Cimber."