This offseason, the San Diego Padres made one big move after another, even making one more before opening day, acquiring Craig Kimbrel. The Padres made big moves to bring in Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, James Shields, and as previously stated, Craig Kimbrel this offseason. All of these players are expected to make an impact on the big league roster, and for a low budget team like the Padres, it was a bit surprising to see them have such a busy offseason. But will all these moves pay off for them in 2015 and beyond? Likely not.
In a span of three days, the Padres traded for three outfielders. The first of the three trades was former Dodger Matt Kemp (and C Tim Federowicz) in exchange for three players. Kemp, 30, finished 2nd in the MVP voting in 2011, putting up a .324/39/129 (batting average, homers, RBIs) stat line. He followed that year up with another all-star campaign in 2012, with solid offensive numbers at .303/23/69. Although he had a solid 2012, it was cut short by injury as he was held to playing just 106 of 162 games, as opposed to playing in all but one in 2011. Kemp was also held back in 2013, playing in just 73 games, while posting numbers below his usual at .270/6/33. To give him some credit, Kemp did have a bit of a comeback last season playing in all but 12 games and having a .287/25/89 stat line. While Kemp showed he can play like his former self, his injury history and his $75 million the Padres owe him over the next five years might not bode well for San Diego in the future. The next trade they made was with the Atlanta Braves, picking up Justin Upton (and RHP Aaron Northcraft) in exchange for four prospects. Upton, 27, started his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks, putting up a .278/108/339 stat line during his time in the desert. In 2013 he was traded to the Atlanta Braves hitting for a .263/27/70 stat line, then put up a better line in 2014 at .270/29/102. While Justin Upton is a solid pickup, he may end up being a one year rental for the Padres, as he is set to hit the open market this offseason, and the team may not have the funds to retain him. The next deal the team made (which was later the same day as the Upton trade) was to bring in Will Myers (and three others) from the Tampa Bay Rays, in exchange for three prospects. Myers, 24, was originally traded to the Rays as the centerpiece of the Rays-Royals trade that sent starter James Shields (who is also now a Padre) to the Royals. Myers was called up in June of the 2013 season and never looked back, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award, with a stat line of .297/13/53 in just 88 games. Myers had a not-so-impressive 2014, being held to just 87 games due to injury and putting up an awful .222/6/35 line. Myers is under team control for four more seasons, but it is unknown which Wil Myers San Diego is going to get, the rookie of the year version, the can’t hit a basketball version, or something in between.
After making moves for three big bats, the Padres later made moves for two big arms. The first of which, was righty starter James Shields. Shields, 33, was signed to a four year, $75 million contract this offseason. He began his career with the Tampa Bay Rays, and had a 3.89/87/1250 (ERA, wins, strikeouts) in seven seasons with Tampa. After being traded to the Kansas City Royals, Shields put up a 3.15/13/196 line in 2013, coming in 11th for the AL Cy Young award voting. The following year, Shields led a rotation that almost won Kansas City a World Series, putting up another good line of 3.21/14/180. While Shields has been one of the league’s top pitchers over the last four seasons, his age is getting up there and he soon may not be able to pitch to the expectations of his $75 million contract. Just when everybody figured San Diego was finished making moves, they made one last big splash the day before their first game. They made another trade with the Atlanta Braves, acquiring star closer Craig Kimbrel (and OF Melvin Upton Jr.) in exchange for three prospects. Kimbrel, 26, has been one of the best, if not the best closer in the entire league since he entered the league in 2010. Among his achievements, Kimbrel was the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year, is a four-time all star, and has finished top 10 in the NL Cy Young voting the last four seasons, as a closer. Over his career, Kimbrel owns an unheard of 14.8 strikeouts per nine innings, and has 187 career saves. More specifically, in 2014 Krimbel had a stat line of 1.61/47/95 (ERA, saves, strikeouts) in 61.2 innings. This in my opinion, was the Padres best trade, but still came at a price as Melvin Upton Jr., brother of fellow Padre Justin Upton and formerly known as “B.J. Upton,” has $46.35 million due to him over three years with no financial aid from the Braves, and is not expected to make any impact on the team over that time.
With all these acquisitions, there was a certain price involved. For Matt Kemp, the Padres traded just one of their top 20 prospects for 2015, RHP Zach Eflin who was rated at 14, along with C Yasmani Grandal and RHP Joe Wieland. In addition, they still have to pay the majority of what is left on his rather large contract. For Justin Upton, they were forced to give up two of their top 20 prospects, LHP Max Fried (#4) and 2B Jace Peterson (#16), and another two who cracked the Padres top 20 prospect list in 2014 (OF Mallex Smith and 3B Dustin Peterson). When it came to Will Myers, San Diego had to part with their #13 prospect, 1B Jake Bauers, #8 2014 prospect RHP Burch Smith, and C Rene Rivera. To acquire closer Craig Kimbrel, the team had to trade outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin, #3 prospect RHP Matt Wisler, and 2014 #19 prospect OF Jordan Paroubeck. They also had to take on the rest of Melvin Upton Jr.’s contract. To add on to the casualties, even though James Shields was a free agent signing, the team still had to give up the 13th overall pick in this years draft, due to the fact that the Royals offered Shields a qualifying offer. To add that all up, they gave up 5 of their current top 20 prospects, 4 of their former top 20 prospects, five other players, the 13th overall pick in this years draft, and $121.35 million. That is quite a large sum of players and a large part of their future, for players that almost all come with a bit of risk.
With Upton possibly leaving this offseason, if they do not succeed this season the trade could end up being useless. It is very likely that Kemp could find his way back to the DL multiple times over the next 5 years. While Myers had a great rookie season, it could turn out that he busts and is the player he showed us all last season. As Shields ages, he could lose his effectiveness rather fast, and become a very expensive pitcher that has lost his edge. While Kimbrel is a great pickup, Melvin Upton Jr.’s contract will be in the back of the team’s head while discussing deals with future free agents. And finally, all the prospects they gave up will be a major hit on their farm system. While all of the players they picked up could be very good, I do not believe they have the chemistry to win now, and no longer has the farm nor the durability to win in the future.