For the first time in his seven seasons as Padres general manager, A.J. Preller is a buyer at the Trade Deadline.
What did you expect -- moderation?
The Padres’ freewheeling GM put an exclamation point on a frantic weekend by finalizing a seven-player blockbuster with Seattle on Sunday night. Catcher Austin Nola and two right-handers are headed to San Diego, with outfield prospect Taylor Trammell among four players going to the Mariners.
Padres get: C Austin Nola, RHP Dan Altavilla, RHP Austin Adams
Mariners get: INF Ty France, OF Taylor Trammell, RHP Andres Muñoz, C Luis Torrens
The move is the latest in a series of trades this weekend in which the Padres have cashed in some of their future chips as they aim for their first postseason appearance in 14 years. After nine straight losing seasons, San Diego sits 21-15, comfortably in the playoff picture with the third best record in the National League.
“Definitely cool to be buyers now,” said Wil Myers, acquired during Preller’s first spree in the winter of 2014. “Exciting times.”
Preller might not be done making moves yet, either. The Padres could still be active in search of starting pitching help ahead of Monday's 1 p.m. PT Deadline, according to sources.
But before we get to Monday’s moves, it’s worth running down what Preller has already accomplished this weekend. He’s landed six players and traded nine. So far, the Padres have:
RHP Trevor Rosenthal, from Kansas City
DH Mitch Moreland, from Boston
C Austin Nola, from Seattle
RHP Dan Altavilla, from Seattle
RHP Austin Adams, from Seattle
C Jason Castro, from Angels
OF prospect Edward Olivares, to Kansas City
IF prospect Hudson Potts, to Boston
OF prospect Jeisson Rosario, to Boston
OF prospect Taylor Trammell, to Seattle
IF Ty France, to Seattle
RHP Andres Muñoz, to Seattle
C Luis Torrens, to Seattle
RHP Gerardo Reyes, to Angels
A player to be named (a low-level pitching prospect, according to a source), to Kansas City
That’s a whole season’s worth of moves, executed in a single weekend. Yet it’s possible those deals were merely Preller’s opening act.
The Padres remain very interested in adding a starting pitcher. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, that interest includes two of the market’s biggest names -- Texas’ Lance Lynn and Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger.
“I know A.J. very well,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said Sunday, following the Moreland trade. “You guys know him very well. He doesn’t sleep, and he’s relentless.”
Aside from starting pitching, the Padres have seemingly addressed every other major hole on their roster this weekend:
Bullpen? Check. Rosenthal joined the club Sunday and should be a late-game weapon. Adams, meanwhile, is recovering from October knee surgery but is expected to return next month as a serious contributor.
An impact bat? Check. Moreland figures to slot into the everyday DH role, especially with France no longer part of the equation.
A catcher? Check and check. Preller found two of those on Sunday.
In one fell swoop, the Padres completely overhauled their big league catching situation, acquiring Nola and Castro, while sending Torrens to Seattle.
The moves could create quite a logjam, with Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejía still on board. Then again, it seems very possible that one of those two is involved in a package for a starting pitcher on Monday.
Clearly, the Padres felt it was imperative to upgrade behind the plate. Their offense has been among the best in the sport, but their backstops slumped to a combined .146/.228/.291 slash line entering play Sunday.
Castro, 33, is merely a short-term rental. He’s a free agent after the season. Nola, meanwhile, is under team control through 2025.
A right-handed hitter, Nola broke into the big leagues as a 29-year-old rookie last season. Now 30, he’s hitting .306/.373/.531 this year.
It’s perhaps useful to view Preller’s Deadline strategy through his acquisition of Nola -- who is expected to help San Diego in the short- and long-term.
For all the win-now buzz surrounding the Padres this weekend, they don’t feel like they’ve jeopardized their future in any substantial way. Among their top 15 prospects according to MLB Pipeline, only Trammell (No. 5) was dealt this weekend.
It’s reasonable to assume that someone the Padres traded will have a long and successful big league career. That’s what happens when you trade nine young players in a two-day span.
But the Padres’ thinking was simple. They spent years amassing prospects and building one of the sport’s best farm systems. Now, they’re cashing in on some of its depth, without putting a huge dent in its overall quality.
They might have left themselves room for one final splash, too.