By: Chris Larson
With the trade deadline approximately 6 days away, there is plenty of chatter out there right now about possible fits between certain players and teams and virtually every team has been connected to someone by this point. Every year it seems like the creativity of all 30 General Managers comes out on display and this trade deadline seems to be no exception.
While many contending teams are out shopping for items on their wish list, there are other teams that might have recently gone through a rebuild and are starting to approach the climb back to relevance. One of those teams is the San Diego Padres who currently have the best farm system in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. That should come as no surprise as the organization has been committed to stocking away valuable prospects over the last two years and have done well in recent drafts also.
Remember in 2016 when the Padres were able to spend a significant amount of money, $60 million to be exact, in the international draft? That has certainly put their farm system in an excellent state of affair and added some valuable prospects both that can be used at the major league level as well as in various trade packages moving forward.
More recently, the Padres hadn't been connected to anyone in particular up until a few days ago, when it was reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, that San Diego had at least checked in on both Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets and Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays. Jon Morosi, of Fox Sports, later confirmed both of those connections and went onto add that San Diego was willing to deal one or two of their Top 3-5 prospects for one of those arms. However, San Diego made it clear that their number one prospect (SS Fernando Tatis Jr.) and number two prospect (LHP Mackenzie Gore) were off limits in any deal.
You certainly can't blame the Padres for making Tatis Jr. and Gore untouchable in trades because those are two future cornerstone pieces of the franchise. However, it's understandable to see why the team would be willing to move the 3 other Top 5 prospects which include newly acquired catcher/outfielder, Francisco Mejia (3rd best prospect), second baseman/shortstop, Luis Urias (4th best prospect), and right-handed pitcher, Chris Paddack (5th best prospect). All three of those prospects have varying degrees of attraction to teams looking to set up a blockbuster deal with the Padres and are considered franchise changing players, if they end up panning out as expected.
Let's start with catcher/outfielder, Francisco Mejia, who was shipped to San Diego approximately one week ago in exchange of relievers, Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, who went to the Cleveland Indians. Many originally thought that Mejia would be the future catcher for the San Diego Padres alongside current big league catcher, Austin Hedges, which still may end up being the case, if the Padres elect to go that route. With that being said, Mejia is a highly valuable catching prospect across the game, as illustrated by the fact that he is the 21st best prospect in all of baseball, and is one of those valuable chips that a team, such as the Padres, can use to get an ace-like starting pitcher.
Beyond that, second baseman/shortstop, Luis Urias, is yet another attractive prospect throughout the game. According to his scouting reports, Urias has a great arm and defensive skills with many scouts seeing him playing second base at the big league level for the foreseeable future. Within the Padres organization, the team has a lot of middle infield depth with Jose Pirela at second base along with Carlos Asuaje and Corey Spangenberg, who are also capable of playing that position. Given that Pirela is controllable for the next four seasons, Urias could ultimately be destined for the trade market.
Rounding out the Padres Top 5 prospects is right-handed pitching prospect, Chris Paddack. Earlier this season, Paddack received a promotion to Double A after posting a 2.24 ERA over 52 and 1/3 innings of work in High-A Ball with 83 strikeouts. Certainly impressive and many scouts ultimately believe that Paddack will eventually settle into the number 3 or 4 spot within a team's starting rotation, whether that be with the Padres or another organization. Ultimately, Paddack is expected to arrive at the big league level come 2020, but the Padres would still have Mackenzie Gore, to help headline the starting rotation, if they ultimately decided to move Paddack in a deal.
Regarding the rest of the farm system, the San Diego Padres currently have 7 of the Top 100 prospects in all of baseball. With all of the talk that the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, and Chicago White Sox get for having deep farm systems, the Padres deserve to be in that conversation as well. It's not often that a team has that many prospects within the Top 100 prospects list for baseball and prospects that are expected to eventually contribute in significant ways at the big league level.
As for if the Padres should actually be aggressive about trading for a starting pitcher like, Noah Syndergaard or Chris Archer, that's another story for debate. Syndergaard is 25-years old and controllable through 2021, while Chris Archer will turn 30 in September and is controllable through at least next season with two team options for 2020 and 2021. Presently, the Padres see themselves being competitive and relevant as soon as 2020 so both would fit into the picture and would give the team a solidified ace at the top of their starting rotation. However, the argument could also be made that the Padres should remain focused on what they have internally considering the injury history of Noah Syndergaard and the recent ineffectiveness of Chris Archer.
For now, the Padres will continue to scour the market to see if they are able to make a major addition or not, but don't be surprised if nothing ends up happening and these talks carry over to this offseason. In fact, both the Mets and Rays might prefer to hold off doing business with the Padres until then, when more scouting and discussions can take place to ensure that either team is getting the best deal possible from San Diego. Regardless, the Padres have been down in the standings for a couple years now, but the future is brighter than ever and that will soon come to benefit their big league club in a significant way.