The Padres are good and exciting for the first time in at least a decade, and while no one has been able to attend games to show their appreciation in San Diego, the passion online from fans has been tremendous.
As the Aug. 31 MLB trade deadline approaches, the Padres continue to be active in finding pieces to round out their roster. They got an ace in Mike Clevinger, and they filled out other holes by adding relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal, designated hitter Mitch Moreland and catchers Jason Castro and Austin Nola.
San Diego’s 21-15 record sets it up for a postseason berth — in 2020’s expanded playoff format, eight teams from each league qualify. The club is getting strong contributions up and down its lineup from expected producers Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado and unexpected resurgent performers Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers. Its starting pitching, led by Zach Davies and Dinelson Lamet, has been above average.
Entering the 2020 deadline, the Padres are second in the NL West, three games ahead of the third-place Rockies. Finishing second in a division this year guarantees making the playoffs. There are 24 games remaining in the campaign.
Here’s an updated breakdown of the trade deadline moves the Padres have made so far and the reasoning behind each transaction:
List of Padres trade deadline moves
Aug. 31: San Diego acquires SP Mike Clevinger, OF Greg Allen and a player to be named later from the Indians for SP/RP Cal Quantrill, OF Josh Naylor, C Austin Hedges, minor league SS Gabriel Arias, minor league SP Joey Cantillo and minor league SS Owen Miller.
Aug. 30: San Diego acquires 1B/DH Mitch Moreland from Red Sox for minor league minor league IF Hudson Potts and minor league OF Jeisson Rosario.
Aug. 30: San Diego acquires C Jason Castro from the Angels for RP Gerardo Reyes.
Aug. 30: San Diego acquires C Austin Nola and RPs Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla from the Mariners for C Luis Torrens, 3B Ty France, RP Andres Munoz and minor league OF Taylor Trammell.
Aug. 29: San Diego acquires RP Trevor Rosenthal from the Royals for OF Edward Olivares and a player to be named later.
What does Trevor Rosenthal bring to the Padres?
Rosenthal has had several MLB lives, some brilliant and some terrible.
He came into the league dominating as a Cardinals closer pumping 100 mph gas past his opponents but left St. Louis with a reputation as someone who could inexplicably lose the strike zone for weeks at a time. Anyone who had followed his career to that point, then, should not have been entirely shocked by his 2019 debacle with the Nationals, who cut him after he worked just 6 1/3 innings for them. He walked 15 batters in those 6 1/3 frames. That has happened to him at times in his eight years in the bigs.
But people also shouldn’t have been surprised by Rosenthal settling down at the start of the 2020 season with the Royals (3.29 ERA, seven saves). He remains a premier strikeout artist who can be unhittable when in relative control. The Padres’ bullpen has been worse than expected this year, and the unit could get a big-time lift if the more effective version of its new late-inning right-hander shows up at Petco Park.
What does Mitch Moreland bring to the Padres?
Moreland remains steady as ever at 34: He destroys right-handers (.797 career OPS against them) and does little else. He’ll be a regular platoon bat at DH for the Padres after Ty France was sent to Seattle in a separate deal.
Moreland comes to San Diego red-hot with eight home runs and a .328 average in 22 games this year.
What does Jason Castro bring to the Padres?
The Padres’ lineup has generally been excellent, but catcher has been a weak spot. Austin Hedges isn’t hitting enough to justify him playing most days even with his good pitch-framing skills and glove work. Injured backup Francisco Mejia has been an even greater disappointment after once being thought of as a future cornerstone player.
Like Moreland, Castro has been steady but unspectacular throughout his career. He adds a veteran presence to a team that’s in uncharted territory pushing for a playoff bid and should be an offensive upgrade at the position playing alongside newly acquired Austin Nola. He almost never hits for average but does draw walks and provides decent pop.
What do Austin Nola, Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla bring to the Padres?
The initial reaction to the trade with the Mariners headlined by Nola has been skepticism toward the Padres. They parted with intriguing pieces to add Nola and two relievers, one of whom is coming off a serious injury while the other is carrying a 7.71 ERA.
From San Diego’s perspective, it’s clear there was concern that the catcher position might sink its potential. Along with Castro, Nola could make the team’s options behind the plate a strength. He didn’t make his MLB debut until last year when he turned 29, but he has been an excellent hitter since that breakthrough. He has hit 15 home runs in 108 career games with an .827 OPS. He can also play the infield, giving him versatility most backstops lack.
Adams had reconstructive ACL surgery in February but is supposed to return by the end of the 2020 season. He has been nasty when healthy, averaging nearly 15 strikeouts per nine innings.
Altavilla has been healthy but notably less nasty. His 6.49 ERA since the start of 2019 is not attractive, but better work earlier in his career with the Mariners perhaps gives San Diego hope it can bump him in the right direction.
What does Mike Clevinger bring to the Padres?
Mike Clevinger is an ace under contract through 2022 who should lift the Padres’ rotation from respectable to fearsome far beyond this year. The 29-year-old comes with a career 3.20 ERA and the elite season-to-season consistency.
He does have some character concerns that made him expendible for Cleveland. He broke COVID-19 protocol by sneaking out of the team’s hotel in Chicago and was dishonest about it afterward, leading him to be temporarily optioned to Indians satellite camp.
Who did the Padres give up in their trades?
Quantrill, who before his 2019 promotion was a top-100 prospect, is probably going to be a solid MLB player for a long time either as a starter or reliever. Naylor is 23 and already producing league-average numbers at the plate, which bodes well for him possibly progressing into an everyday player in Cleveland. Hedges is a quality defender behind the plate but might not be able to figure things out enough in the batter’s box to be much of an asset moving forward. Olivares, Torrens and France have MLB experience but are not projected to develop beyond role players.
Tier 2 prospects
The Padres lost a consensus top-100 MLB prospect in Trammell, whom they received from the Reds in a three-team trade in July 2019. Arias is on the edge of top-100 status, ranked No. 94 by Baseball Prospectus entering 2020. The club also parted with Munoz, a power arm who seemed destined for a long-term spot in its bullpen before he tore his UCL this year.
Tier 3 prospects
San Diego sent Potts, their first-round draft pick in 2016, and Rosario to the Red Sox, losing possible upside for certain near-term production. Both players struggled at the plate last season and are far from the MLB level. Cantillo, sent to the Indians, has impressed in the lower minors but still has a lot to prove. Miller is at risk of losing his prospect shine completely following a lost 2020; he was already old for his level at Double-A last year.
Are the Padres going to make the playoffs?
Probably. It would take a meltdown for San Diego not to make the postseason, especially after gaining the above reinforcements. While it’s difficult to see the Padres beating out the Dodgers for first place in the NL West, settling in behind LA would be an acceptable outcome for a franchise that’s trying to taste October baseball for the first time since 2006.