The final piece of the 2012 Mat Latos trade was dealt away today, as the Padres sent first baseman Yonder Alonso to Oakland. General manager A.J. Preller also sent left-handed specialist Marc Rzepczinski to the Athletics, and he received two left-handed pitchers in return: Drew Pomeranz and Jose Torres.
After a solid rookie season in 2012, when he smashed 39 doubles, Alonso had trouble staying healthy. In 2015, he played in 103 games (the most since his rookie season), and he hit just five home runs with only 31 RBI.
Clearly, Alonso’s health and lack of production coupled with his upcoming arbitration priced him out of San Diego.
Rzepczinski was the lone acquisition made by Preller at the All-Star break, coming over from Cleveland. He had a terrible time, posting a 7.36 ERA in 27 games for San Diego. Opposing batters hit .309 against him.
In return, the Padres get Pomeranz, a former number one draft pick. In 53 games (nine starts) with Oakland, Pomeranz pitched 86 innings with a 3.66/1.19/.226 triple-slash. While he profiles best as a middle-man reliever/spot starter, the Padres are surely hoping that he will challenge for a spot in the starting five, thus adding some balance to an all-righty rotation.
Torres, 22, just finished a season in the A-level minor leagues, posting a 2.69 ERA in 44 appearances.
This trade makes great financial sense for the Padres, as both Alonso and Rzepczinski were set to go to arbitration, and neither of them really fit into their long-term plans. It serves other purposes as well:
- As noted by MLBTradeRumors, the trade was motivated by the non-tender deadline. The Padres cut bait with two players who did not fit into their 2016 plans, and between them would have added nearly $5 million to the payroll. Along with the recent trades of Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, Preller has now skimmed roughly $23 million off of the projected 2016 player salaries.
- This savings will help the Padres to pay for other needs, most especially shortstop. Prospect Javier Guerra, 19, is 2-3 years away from the major leagues. The Padres have been linked to free agent Ian Desmond, 30, who could fill that gap until Guerra is ready. Other possibilities include the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus, or the Cubs’ Starlin Castor or Javier Baez.
- Meanwhile, Pomeranz, 27, figures to be much cheaper, and could help the team in an area where they are currently lacking: left-handed pitching, preferably in the starting rotation.
- Along with the returns from Kimbrel and Benoit, Torres will help to replenish the once-depleted farm system.
Lastly, this and the earlier trades of Kimbrel and Benoit show that Preller is learning from last year’s trade-first-ask-questions-later posture. It demonstrates strategy on his part in putting together a competitive team where all of the holes are filled.
With this trade, Preller has completed part one of his offseason objective: trim the fat off the budget. That is, unless he is somehow able to move the $60 million-plus that is owed Matt Kemp over the next four years.
Step two will be to fill the current holes the Padres now face: shortstop, first base/left field (depending upon who is available on the market, since Myers can play either position), and at least one more starting pitcher.