The San Diego Padres were pretty serious about being a good team in 2015. In fact, based on the extreme and expensive moves that they made in the offseason, many thought that they’d go from perennial loser to a World Series contender. Fast-forward to now, though, and it’s pretty clear that this is far from the case.
The Padres are now 45-52 and 10.5 games out of the NL West race. Based on their current standing and fading postseason hopes, it looks like San Diego is ready to start getting rid of some of their major free-agent and trade acquisitions.
Prominent media members like Jayson Stark and Ken Rosenthal are now reporting that pitcher James Shields (free agent), outfielder Craig Upton and closer Craig Kimbrel (both trades) could all be on the move. Here are some tweets from Stark and Rosenthal:
Jayson Stark – #Padres listening on at least half their staff. But they “really want to move” both James Shields and Andrew Cashner, other teams say
Ken Rosenthal – #Padres officially are sellers. Venable, Benoit also could move, along with Kimbrel and any of SPs, with Ross perhaps least likely.
Jayson Stark – #Padres listening more intently than ever on Justin Upton & Ian Kennedy, and would “love to trade (James) Shields,” other execs report.
Matt Kemp is a perfect example of this since he had $107 million left on his Dodgers deal, with $32 million of this being paid by L.A. The Padres took $18 million of this upfront, meaning they only have $14 million left to spread throughout the remaining five years on the contract.
Shields may present an even bigger problem because his contract is backloaded to pay $65 million over the next three years. He’s had solid production with an 8-3 record and 3.77 ERA in 21 starts this season. But given that he’s 33, this isn’t enough to justify another team trading for an aging pitcher who’s owed $65 million. The most likely scenario is that the Padres will be fronting some of Shields’ salary if they can find a taker.
Here’s an excerpt from Baseball Tonight podcast’s Buster Olney regarding Shields:
“I had one executive say to me, with another team, ‘If James Shields was a free agent in the fall, what would you give him?’ And the estimates I heard from this general manager were in the range of three years, $45 million. I heard more like three (years) for $36 (million), three (years) for $39 (million) from some other agents and executives. So what that means is that if the Padres actually decide to trade James Shields they might have to conceivably eat some money, because I don’t think anybody would, for a pitcher who has an ERA on the road over 5.00 this year and is going to be 34 next season, be willing to pay three years and $65 million.”’
At the low estimate, San Diego would probably get back mediocre talent for Shields and pay at least $19 million of his salary. The same goes for center fielder Melvin Upton Jr. (three years, $46.4 million), who rarely plays and, when he does play, has produced nowhere near what his salary suggests.
In theory, the Padres were doing a good thing: bring in high-priced free agents and make marquee trades in an effort to build a great baseball team. Unfortunately, their moves didn’t pan out and the result has been an expensive disaster. It looks like San Diego realizes this, which is why they’re now trying to shed some contracts and get prospects – even if it ends up costing them in the end.