Padres acquire Emilio Pagan from Rays for Manuel Margot, prospect Logan Driscoll

Emilio Pagan
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The big trade we’ve all been waiting for has finally been made official. That’s right folks, the Rays traded reliever Emilio Pagan to San Diego in exchange for outfielder Manuel Margot and catcher/outfielder prospect Logan Driscoll.

What, you were expecting Mookie Betts? Read the headline next time.

Even if this isn’t about a former MVP, it’s a fun little trade. Pagan broke out in a big way with Tampa last year. The right-handed put up a 2.31 ERA over 70 innings and struck out 96 men while walking just 13. He was one of the most important weapons in the formidable Rays bullpen, and he’ll now partner with Kirby Yates and Drew Pomeramnz for the Padres. San Diego’s bullpen was already sneaky good, and now it’s even better. AJ Preller has done well here.

As far as the Tampa side of the deal goes, it’s an interesting fit. The Rays already had no shortage of outfielders. In addition to incumbents Austin Meadows and Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa had already gotten Hunter Renfroe from the Padres earlier in the winter and signed Yoshi Tsutsugo. They also traded for Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena from St. Louis, although Martinez is more of a 1B/DH type. Arozarena has options so he’ll probably start the season in Triple-A, and Martinez and Tsutsugo will compete for DH time given that Ji-Man Choi already has the first base job.

There’s too many pieces in place here, which makes me think that the long-rumored Kiermaier trade might happen at some point in the next few months. Kiermaier is an unquestionably great center fielder, but he makes enough money and misses enough time that he’s not the sort of dude the Rays like to keep around. Margot is essentially a slightly worse (but healthier) and much cheaper version of Kiermaier, making the subsequent trade all the more likely.

The prospect in the trade, Driscoll, was a 2019 second-rounder out of George Mason where he absolutely tore the cover off the ball. As noted above, he can both catch and play the outfield, which between that and his power makes him an Extremely Rays player indeed. This is the sort of dude the Rays like to inject their own special brand of Cardinals Devil Magic into so that he can come up and be an above-average regular for three years before trading him when it’s time to get paid in arbitration, so yeah, expect him to be knocking some dingers into the stingray tank before long. He feels like the real prize here, beyond the Margot-shaped insurance policy Tampa now has for a Kiermaier trade.

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Padres claim 2-time All-Star catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from Mets

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO — The scuffling San Diego Padres claimed catcher Gary Sánchez off waivers from the New York Mets.

The two-time All-Star was designated for assignment after playing in three games for the Mets. He went 1 for 6 with three strikeouts and an RBI, looking shaky at times behind the plate.

With the disappointing Padres (24-29) getting meager offensive production at catcher, they hope Sánchez can provide a boost. Austin Nola is batting .131 with three extra-base hits and a paltry .434 OPS in 39 games. His part-time platoon partner, second-stringer Brett Sullivan, is hitting .170 with four extra-base hits and a .482 OPS in 21 games since getting called up from the minors April 16.

Luis Campusano has been on the injured list since April 17 and is expected to be sidelined until around the All-Star break following left thumb surgery.

San Diego is responsible for just over $1 million in salary for Sánchez after assuming his $1.5 million, one-year contract.

The star-studded Padres have lost seven of 11 and are 3-3 on a nine-game East Coast trip. They open a three-game series at Miami.

San Diego becomes the third National League team to take a close look at the 30-year-old Sánchez this season. He spent time in the minors with San Francisco before getting released May 2 and signing a minor league contract a week later with the Mets, who were minus a couple of injured catchers at the time.

After hitting well in a short stint at Triple-A Syracuse, he was promoted to the big leagues May 19. When the Mets reinstated catcher Tomás Nido from the injured list last week, Sánchez was cut.

Sánchez’s best seasons came early in his career with the New York Yankees, where he was runner-up in 2016 AL Rookie of the Year voting and made the AL All-Star team in 2017 and 2019.

He was traded to Minnesota before the 2022 season and batted .205 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 128 games last year.

With the Padres, Sánchez could also be a candidate for at-bats at designated hitter, where 42-year-old Nelson Cruz is batting .245 with three homers, 16 RBIs and a .670 OPS, and 37-year-old Matt Carpenter is hitting .174 with four homers, 21 RBIs and a .652 OPS.