Springtime Storylines: Will Adrian Gonzalez finish the season with the Padres?

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Between now and Opening Day, HBT will take a look at each of
the 30
teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally
breaking down their chances for the 2010 season.  Next — and last — up: The Padres. And there is no significance to me using the old logo this time. I just like it better than that Love Boat looking thing they use now.


The
big question: Will Adrian Gonzalez finish the season with the Padres?

This is kind of like the Diamondbacks/Webb question in terms of obviousness, but it has far more important competitive consequences for everyone involved, so I don’t have similar angst about asking it. Anyway:

You know the drill by now: San Diego still has him under contract for two more seasons at a
combined cost of just $10.25 million. That makes him simultaneously tradable and affordable, which puts the Padres in something of a bind. If he made $10 million this year alone it would actually be easier for them. As of now, the team may want to trade him and could get max value for him, but your average fan who doesn’t think too terribly much about long term contracts and baseball economics will view the move as the team being cheap and hopeless and stuff.  And it doesn’t help that Gonzalez is from San Diego, is invested in the community and seems to truly love it there.

Thankfully for the Padre fans who do pay close attention, Jed Hoyer seems like the kind of guy who will make decisions based on long term competitive concerns and not the whims of columnists, dilettantes and sentimental ballplayers.  As hard as it may be to do, I think they’ll trade Gonzalez this year, I think he’ll realize a hefty return for him and I think that, eventually, everyone is going to be happy. Gonzalez because once he’s freed from his home run killing park he’s going to put up frighteningly good numbers and make himself nine figures. The Padres and their fans because the trade will bring back talent that will be part of the next good Padres team.  In the meantime, the weather is nice there and the fish tacos are excellent, so let’s just enjoy it all, shall we?  

So
what
else is
going on?

  • With Jake Peavy gone the rotation is rather anchorless. Jon Garland will eat innings, as they say, and beyond that are a lot of very tall question marks. Chris Young gets hurt a lot, but if he can recapture his 2007 form he’d be a poor man’s ace (if I could recapture 2007 form I’d be drinking too much and wondering how injured I’d have to be before I could claim disability payments and not have to practice law anymore. How about you?).  Mat Latos represents a lot of promise but growing pains are inevitable. That describes half the roster, of course.
  • The Padres have gone all-in on Hairstons, but the offense is going to be pretty ugly. If Gonzalez is traded the team can probably save money by turning off the lights on the home half of the scoreboard.

  • Lest Padres fans despair at the loss of Gonzalez, at least they have Kyle Blanks to look forward to. He’s 6’6″ and pushes three bills. He’s had a great spring and as a power source he ranks somewhere below the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and somewhere above the Grand Coulee Dam.  Once Gonzalez goes, Blanks will likely rumble over to first base as God and nature intended (note: God did not intend for there to be DHs, so 1B is the best He can do).
  • My Padres expert of choice is Geoff Young, who notes something in his Padres preview at The Hardball Times that I never would have noticed: the new owners, led by Jeff Moorad, are doing a lot of fan-friendly things such as lowering the price of beer and changing the start time of some game to make things easier for everyone.  Given how much attendance has taken a hit in San Diego these are some smart moves.

So
how
are they gonna do?

What’s going on in San Diego is the dictionary definition of rebuilding. But as is the case in Pittsburgh — and is not the case in Houston — rebuilding can be a nice cleansing exercise if you choose to have the right attitude about it. At least in San Diego the process isn’t going to take 18-20 years and, hey, didn’t I mention the weather and the fish tacos already?

Prediction: Fifth place in the NL
West, but tomorrow will be a better day.

Report: The Nationals are still in on Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 05: Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning on September 5, 2016 at U. S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.

In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.

According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.

McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.

The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.

Astros sign Carlos Beltran to one-year, $16 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Carlos Beltran #36 of the Texas Rangers hits an RBI against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Astros have reportedly agreed to terms with free agent DH/outfielder Carlos Beltran for a one-year, $16 million contract, per ESPN’s Buster Olney. The deal includes a complete no-trade clause, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

Beltran elected to return to the Astros after fielding offers from the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox. He appeared in Houston during the second half of 2004, batting .258/.368/.559 with 23 home runs in 399 PA and making his first postseason run to the tune of a .435 average and eight homers as the Astros battled their way through to a seven-game loss in the Championship Series. Beltran also played with Houston manager A.J. Hinch and bench coach Alex Cora in separate stints with the Royals and Mets, which the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan cited as possible influences in the Astros’ decision to pursue the free agent.

In 2016, Beltran split the season between the Yankees and Rangers after getting dealt at the deadline for a package of right-handed pitching prospects. He was stationed in right field for the majority of his time in New York, but was almost exclusively utilized as a designated hitter over 52 games in Texas. Between the two clubs, he batted an impressive .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers and earned his ninth career All-Star designation to boot.

The veteran slugger is expected to fill a similar role on the Astros, who need a full-time DH but could use some additional support in the outfield corner. Olney envisions a lineup with Beltran in the five-spot, per an earlier report: