The Padres are attempting to accomplish the difficult feat of turning around their major league performance in one off-season.
After striking out on the free agency market for Panda and Tomas, the Padres have decided to trade the farm system. In doing so they’ve acquired a crop of strong players for next season:
- Justin Upton
- Derick Norris
- Matt Kemp
- Will Myers
- Will Middlebrooks
They did this by trading a ton of players out. They traded away 15 players, received an additional 4 (but one of them was traded). They sold high on some of their young players, then brought in players to replace them (like Norris) and added pieces like Morrow on top of it.
Will this work? Premiums on prospects have gone up each season for the better part of the last decade as teams overvalue players that haven’t been fully tested in the majors. This has been compounded with players who have gone from the Minor leagues and became star sensations in the same year (Trout, Andrus, Harvey, S Castro to name a few). Some received huge extensions to buy players out of their arbitration years and while some players are playing to those contracts, others aren’t (Andrus).
While this turn around has certainly taken the Padres organization more than one year to execute since they had to build a farm-system to support this, they will now become a case study in if selling the farm system means long term success. If we continue down the road of baseball adages, championships are invaluable to franchises. Meaning, winning it all one year could mean more to a franchise than being competitive or marginally competitive for years down the road.
Making this more of a case study is to juxtapose the Padres off-season with the Mets. Barring a huge move for a shortstop from Colorado that I still hope happens, the Mets are looking at holding on to all of their prospects this season. This season in particular, the Mets are coming into the season with a strong farm system that looks to have several players in crowded positions matriculate at the same time (Syndergaard, Montero, possibly Matz). The Mets already have 6 starting pitchers on the team, if Gee isn’t traded. The Mets situation is like a fantasy football team that has two great quarterbacks. Trading one cuts your depth, but he isn’t doing anything sitting on your bench every week. Trading him for a piece that is probably worth less then quarterback looks bad on paper, but it could be the marginal piece that improves your team every week.
In other words, or more negative words, the Padres could be gutting themselves by gutting their farm system. The Mets could be gutting themselves by not moving a surplus to get missing pieces. In the longer term, the Padres and Mets now foil as to what happens when a team goes for a win now mode by trading the farm and what happens when a team walks away from that situation by not doing that.