Donavan Tate looks like another draft bust for Padres


In light of his 50-game drug suspension, Donavan Tate is shaping up as the latest in a long line of draft busts for the Padres.

Here are their 17 first-round picks over a 15-year span from 1995-2009, along with their career WARs, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

1995 – Ben Davis (2nd): 2.9
1996 – Matt Halloran (15th)
1997 – Kevin Nicholson (27th): -0.1
1998 – Sean Burroughs (9th): 1.6
1999 – Vince Faison (20th)
1999 – Gerik Baxter (28th)
1999 – Omar Ortiz (29th)
2000 – Mark Phillips (9th)
2001 – Jake Gautreau (14th)
2002 – Khalil Greene (13th): 8.1
2003 – Tim Stauffer (4th): 4.5
2004 – Matt Bush (1st)
2005 – Cesar Carrillo (18th): -1.2
2006 – Matt Antonelli (17th): -0.4
2007 – Nick Schmidt (23rd)
2008 – Allan Dykstra (23rd)
2009 – Donavan Tate (3rd)

This pretty much all falls on Kevin Towers’ shoulders.  He was the Padres’ scouting director from 1993-1995 and he took over as the GM after that, running the team through the 2009 season.  He often managed to keep the Padres competitive despite modest budgets, but he was unable to find potential stars and even struggled to land quality regulars in the draft.

Only seven of the 17 picks made the majors and just three had signficant careers. Davis is long gone, and it doesn’t look like Greene is going to make it back from the anxiety issues that derailed his career. Stauffer, the 4th overall pick in the 2003 draft, is the one guy contributing to a major league team right now, and at least he is doing it for the Padres.

Besides Stauffer and Tate, Schmidt is the only other pick still in the organization, but he’s struggled to make it back from Tommy John surgery and it’s doubtful he’ll reach the majors.  Dykstra, the 2008 first-rounder, was traded to the Mets for reliever Eddie Kunz this spring in a swap of disappointments.

Now it’s probably not fair to write Tate off just yet; he still has plenty of tools.  However, he’s been troubled by injuries since the day he signed, and the drug issues only make him more of a long shot.  He’s just 20, so he has plenty of time to turn it around.  Little so far has been encouraging, though.

As for the picks since 2009, well, Karsten Whitson has a chance to be a big-time pitcher.  Unfortunately, he didn’t sign after the Padres took him ninth overall last year.  He’ll be starting for the University of Florida tonight in the College World Series.

The Padres’ compensation pick for not signing Whitson was second baseman Cory Spangenberg, but Spangenberg looked like a big reach with the 10th pick in this year’s draft.  The Padres’ other 2011 first-rounder, high school right-hander Joe Ross, seems like a better bet.  Still, he’s a few years away in a best-case scenario.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.