How do Preller's offseason trades grade out?

August 23rd, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- As they approach the halfway mark of the 2020 season, the Padres are a different team than they were a season ago. That's a testament to some shrewd offseason maneuvering from Padres general manager A.J. Preller, who overhauled a chunk of the team's core during the offseason.

Not every move Preller made was unimpeachable. But he clearly got a couple big ones right. In total, Preller made five major trades during the offseason. We don't have all the information we need for a complete assessment. But we can do our best to give the Padres a midterm grade for each of them:

Nov. 27: Infielder Luis Urías and left-hander Eric Lauer to Milwaukee for outfielder Trent Grisham and right-hander Zach Davies

There's a decent chance Luis Urías develops into a starting-caliber middle infielder in the big leagues. That’s a very useful commodity. Still, the Padres seem like major winners in this deal.

After his three-home-run showing on Saturday night, is hitting .271/.381/.533 this season. He also has established himself as a capable center fielder, which hugely increases his value. Grisham and Urías have the same amount of contractual control remaining, and at this point, the Padres would clearly rather have Grisham.

Throw and Eric Lauer into the mix, and the deal looks even more lopsided. Lauer has a 12.54 ERA through three appearances and was optioned to the Brewers' alternate training site. Davies, meanwhile, has been the Padres' second-best pitcher, and he lowered his ERA to 3.03 on Saturday.
Grade: A

Dec. 2: Catcher Austin Allen and outfielder Buddy Reed to Oakland for second baseman Jurickson Profar

At the time of the trade, Austin Allen and Buddy Reed were prospects, so it's hard to get a full grasp on this one. But we have a decent idea of what they are. Allen is 26, Reed 25. They could still become serviceable Major Leaguers, but the Padres don’t expect to regret parting with either.

, meanwhile, is still below the Mendoza line, but he has rebounded from his rough start and is reaching base at a .307 clip. He's a useful roster piece, though he can become a free agent after the season.
Grade: B-

Dec. 6: Outfielder Hunter Renfroe, infielder Xavier Edwards and second baseman Esteban Quiroz for outfielder Tommy Pham and infielder Jake Cronenworth

is out until mid-September after surgery to address a broken hamate bone in his left hand. The Padres still feel like huge winners in this deal. At the time of the trade, Preller -- and several members of the Padres front office -- insisted this wasn't merely a deal for Pham. was an integral piece, too, they said.

Did anyone listen? At the time, not really. But Cronenworth has since emerged as the National League Rookie of the Year frontrunner, hitting .352/.418/.648. He has made a strong case to become the Padres' second baseman of the future.

Meanwhile, Hunter Renfroe's second-half struggles of 2019 have continued with Tampa Bay. He's hitting just .167 over 23 games. Xavier Edwards is still a high-upside infield prospect. If Edwards’ ceiling is an athletic second baseman who can hit for average with occasional power -- well, the Padres already have one of those: Cronenworth.
Grade: A

Feb. 8: Outfielder Manuel Margot and catcher Logan Driscoll to Tampa Bay for right-hander Emilio Pagán

There's a lot of information still to be gleaned on both sides of this deal. The Padres have under control for 3 1/2 seasons. The Rays have Manuel Margot for 2 1/2. Thus far, neither of the two sides has emerged as an obvious winner.

But if we evaluate based on the results of the first half in 2020, it's probably the worst of the bunch for Preller. Pagán has struggled through 12 outings, posting a 6.75 ERA (though he picked up his first save as a Padre on Friday night).

Margot, meanwhile, has put up an entirely serviceable .277/.338/.354 slash line, and San Diego could use a righty outfield bat in Pham's absence. Still, if Pagán rekindles his 2019 form, there's still time for this deal to become a winner for Preller -- as soon as this season.
Grade: C+

July 2: Outfielder Franchy Cordero and right-hander Ronald Bolaños to Kansas City for left-hander Tim Hill

A trade that hasn't worked out yet for either side, the Padres are early winners, only because is healthy and on their roster and has contributed to a few victories. (He's quietly made four straight scoreless appearances.)

Meanwhile, Franchy Cordero, who played only 49 games in the past two seasons due to injury, is on the IL once again with a broken hamate bone. Ronald Bolaños, whom the Padres were comfortable parting with because of their starting pitching depth, has a 12.27 ERA and has been optioned.
Grade: B

Overall assessment

In: Grisham, Davies, Profar, Pham, Cronenworth, Pagán, Hill
Out: Urías, Lauer, Allen, Reed, Renfroe, Edwards, Quiroz, Margot, Driscoll, Cordero, Bolaños

Among the players the Padres parted with via trade this offseason, Urías and Margot have had small measures of success this year. That was to be expected. "You trade talent to get talent," Preller often says. Urías and Margot have skill sets that should make them useful big league pieces.

Worth it. Grisham and Cronenworth look like cornerstone pieces at premium defensive positions. Pagán and Hill have shown signs of life in the bullpen. And while Pham, Davies, and Profar don't have much time under contract, they're all bound to make an impact (when healthy). As such, Preller's offseason of trades should be viewed as an overwhelming success.
Overall grade: A