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Padres have trade chips to swap for 2019 run

Ross, Hand among SD's most valuable pieces; Preller seeking MLB-ready bat
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres have a lot to learn during the second half of the 2018 season.

Which offensive pieces are part of their future? Which rotation pieces are part of their future? And which pieces from elsewhere can they acquire to become a part of that future?

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres have a lot to learn during the second half of the 2018 season.

Which offensive pieces are part of their future? Which rotation pieces are part of their future? And which pieces from elsewhere can they acquire to become a part of that future?

The final question will take center stage over the next two weeks, as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. Here's a look at how things might unfold.

Current status: Sellers
In mid-June, the Padres climbed within four games of .500, and they found themselves on the fringe of the National League West race. A month later, they've long since been knocked from contention.

But all along, the Padres eyed 2018 as a season to build for the future. They have the chance to do so at this year's Deadline. With a handful of useful chips, general manager A.J. Preller will do his best to add to an already stacked farm system.

Video: Kirby Yates is having a career year for the Padres

What they are seeking
MLB Pipeline rates the Padres' system as the best in baseball. But Preller is greedy when it comes to prospects, and he's going to look to bolster an already-deep farm with a high-end name or two -- preferably a hitter.

Things are going to get crowded on the 40-man roster this winter. That makes it unlikely Preller adds a player who needs to be placed on that roster -- unless that player is big league ready. But big league-ready hitting talent is expected to be at the top of Preller's list.

What they have to offer
The Padres find themselves largely in the same position as they did last season. They have a valuable asset in closer Brad Hand. But he's under team control for a long time (now through 2021 following his offseason contract extension). They're not going to part with Hand readily. And if their high price isn't met, they're content to hold onto him.

Also like last season, San Diego has other valuable bullpen pieces and one mid-rotation right-hander available. Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates are trade bait out of the 'pen, but both are under team control after this season. Starter Tyson Ross, on the other hand, is a free agent after this year. In a thin market for rotation help, Ross' name will be thrown around plenty.

Video: Tyson Ross putting up solid numbers this season

Possible scenario
The Astros and Padres were linked regarding a possible Hand deal last year. It never came to fruition. In fact, things cooled off between the two clubs in the week leading up to the Trade Deadline. It never got all that serious.

Those talks will almost certainly be rekindled this summer -- if they haven't been already. Hand appears to be a perfect fit on a Houston roster with a loaded lineup and rotation. Things worked out just fine for the World Series champion Astros last season. But they might not be willing to take the same risks this year. The Padres' asking price will likely include a package of prospects led by at least one big name.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Brad Hand, Tyson Ross