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Five Padres thoughts after a quiet Winter Meetings

SDRay

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https://theathletic.com/712807/2018/12/13/five-padres-thoughts-after-a-quiet-winter-meetings/

LAS VEGAS — The Padres appeared ready to depart the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Thursday with an acquisition in tow, albeit only in spirit. Then, they turned around and traded him for a pittance.

On the final morning of their stay here, the Padres selected Cristofer Melendez, a 21-year-old who has never thrown a professional pitch on U.S. soil, in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft. Just before 1 p.m., they announced they had dealt Melendez to the Pirates for cash.

That went down as San Diego’s lone transaction at these Winter Meetings. In other words, not counting trips to the craps tables, the Padres consummated virtually no official business over the course of four days. With 2018 calendars nearing obsoletion, plans for marked improvement remain cloaked in mystery.

Here are five thoughts on, to date, a quiet offseason and the road ahead:

1. The Padres, of course, did plenty of talking with other teams and among themselves. Despite the lack of activity, they were seen as one of the most aggressive clubs in Vegas, particularly on the trade-discussion front.

It bears repeating that the Winter Meetings represent an artificial deadline, an excuse for 30 organizations to “get out of the house.” The Padres have repeatedly stated their belief in their prospects and their resolve not to mortgage 2020 and beyond. But there is no getting around the 66 in last season’s win column. It would be a surprise if general manager A.J. Preller does not pull off a noteworthy move between now and the time pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13.

2. The Padres are still in the picture for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, the top trade target at the Meetings, but the fact that he is under control for only two more seasons remains a significant hurdle. Sources indicate that, before landing a player like Realmuto, the Padres would have to feel comfortable that they can extend their control for at least two additional seasons (through 2022).

Other interested clubs, such as Brodie Van Wagenen’s win-now Mets, might not have the same hangup when it comes to paying a steep price. According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, in what have to date been futile attempts to acquire Realmuto, New York has discussed three-team trades with multiple teams. That includes the Padres, who would get Noah Syndergaard instead of Realmuto under one proposal. No agreement involving Realmuto appears to be close.

3. Ever since Preller arrived in San Diego, Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar has been jokingly referred to as a white whale of sorts for the GM. While with Texas, Preller was very involved in signing Profar, and the Padres have been linked repeatedly to the former top prospect. Profar is the kind of versatile piece the Padres desire for the left side of the infield, especially in advance of Fernando Tatis’ debut.

But, as with Realmuto, Profar will be eligible for free agency after 2020. The Padres have spoken with the Rangers recently about the infielder, but industry sources suggest the possibility of a deal is faint, at least for now; the price tag is high, and other teams appear to be mounting more serious pursuits.

“It’s just hard to line up in any trade scenario, really,” Preller said this week. “We’ve had discussions with (the Rangers) over the course of the last year.”

Rosenthal lists Daniel Descalso and Nick Ahmed as other possible options for San Diego (Marwin González is definitely a target, but his market might not be fully defined).

4. Rival teams still believe the Padres would like to move Wil Myers in a contract swap. The Padres, meanwhile, maintain that they still see Myers as an integral part of their future.

In all likelihood, club officials believe Myers is presently more valuable to them than what they could get for him, especially after an injury-plagued season. And two other outfielders and trade candidates, Franmil Reyes and Manuel Margot, are currently sidelined by minor injuries.

Myers, for all his shortcomings, remains the most bankable — and, yes, expensive — piece in a crowded outfield. If the Padres don’t acquire an experienced third baseman, they might ask Myers, despite his preference for a set position, to attempt some kind of role split between the outfield and the hot corner.

“Definitely how he feels means a lot to me, means a lot to the organization,” manager Andy Green said. “But you have to fit that in the context of the team. … He’s never been hesitant to sacrifice in that regard for our greater good. And I don’t think he’ll be hesitant at any point in time.”

5. The Dodgers are, well, the Dodgers. The Rockies will need a repeat of their pitching staff’s surprisingly staunch performance. The Diamondbacks traded Paul Goldschmidt and are commencing a rebuild. The Giants also look primed to take a step back.

A 20-win jump is a long shot under almost any circumstance, but what if the Padres signed, say, Dallas Keuchel, added another pitcher and parted with a couple of good prospects in exchange for a third baseman? With Myers and Eric Hosmer in their late 20s and owed big salaries, San Diego might not be able to afford a year without substantial progress.
 

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