SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' actions during the first half of the season should give some indication into their strategy leading to the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline.In June, no one was busier on the trade front than Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who dealt starter James Shields and closer Fernando
SAN DIEGO -- The Padres' actions during the first half of the season should give some indication into their strategy leading to the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline.
In June, no one was busier on the trade front than Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who dealt starter James Shields and closer Fernando Rodney to the White Sox and Marlins, respectively. In return, the Padres landed prospects Chris Paddack and Fernando Tatis Jr., along with right-hander Erik Johnson. Then on the eve of the second half, the club dealt All-Star Drew Pomeranz to the Red Sox, accordingn to a source, with pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza headed to San Diego
Essentially, the Padres are using a three-pronged approach to re-stock their Minor League system this summer. They've already built through the Draft -- with six of the top 85 picks, the most in the Majors. And they've finished a large portion of their work on the international market, signing seven of the top 30 prospects there.
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"You start to feel the excitement from the player development staff," Preller said of the influx of talent. "They're seeing talented players and guys that they feel have a chance to come up here and impact at Petco [Park]. That's big. ... When you get these guys all on the field together, that's what we've been building for."
Now, Preller and Co. have a chance to add talent via trades. Catcher Derek Norris, who has two years of team control remaining after this season, figures to be a prime trade chip. Meanwhile, Andrew Cashner and Jon Jay are both in the final year of their contracts.
Despite a small fracture in Jay's right forearm that has ruled him out for July, the Padres are still receiving phone calls from interested parties. Fellow outfielders Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton Jr. possess burdensome contracts but could undoubtedly help a contender, making them candidates to be dealt as well.
Among contenders, there aren't many clubs that couldn't use an upgrade at catcher. Norris fits the bill. His offensive numbers aren't great -- but they have been over the last month. And behind the dish, Norris has been rock solid, leading the NL with nine Defensive Runs Saved. San Diego appears ready to hand the reins to catcher-of-the-future Austin Hedges, meaning the Rangers, Red Sox and Astros could all come calling on Norris.
WHAT ARE THEY PLAYING FOR?
If Wil Myers can continue his recent surge, he could very well end up playing for the franchise's second NL MVP Award, and first since Ken Caminiti took home the honor in 1996. Meanwhile, the Padres will be looking to finally combine a solid stretch of hitting with a solid stretch of starting pitching. So far this season, it's been one or the other.
THE ROAD AHEAD
Still in search of their first win over the Giants after nine games, the Padres open the second half by hosting San Francisco in a three-game set. Shortly thereafter, the Padres face the Blue Jays (July 25-27) for the franchise's first series in Toronto. The two clubs will make some history, as their matchup marks the only series and site among current Major League clubs that has never been contested.
Right-hander Tyson Ross hasn't pitched since his Opening Day start against the Dodgers because of inflammation in his right shoulder. The Padres have been extremely cautious with his comeback, but if he returns to form from the past two seasons, it could give San Diego an ace atop the rotation for the second half.
PROSPECTS TO WATCH
The 23-year-old Hedges is clearly big league-ready, having put his left-hand surgery behind him. Separately, if the Padres deal one of their outfielders, expect No. 3 prospect Hunter Renfroe -- who leads the PCL in homers and RBIs -- to get a serious look at the Major League level over the final month or so.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.