Cleat Geeks

The Padres and Braves make a Blockbuster

Hear are the specifics of the deal; the Padres acquired closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. from the Braves for outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin, two prospects — right-hander Matt Wisler and outfielder Jordan Paroubeck — and the No. 41 pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft. I also want to specify, there is no money exchanging teams with this deal. This deal signifies 2 teams going in opposite directions, but both of them have plans in place.

The Atlanta Braves

CameronMaybin

Former Padre, now Atlanta Brave, Cameron Maybin.

This had to hurt General Manager John Hart, but he has been consistent in his plan to shed payroll now, and build for their future when they move into their new ball park in 2017. With this move he did both. Kimbrel is guaranteed $34 million through 2017. Upton, meanwhile, is due more than $46 million in that same time frame, while the Braves are taking on just $23 million in guaranteed money over the next two years via Maybin and Quentin, the latter of whom they are reportedly going to designate for assignment. That’s almost $60 million worth of savings for a rebuilding Braves team. Plus they get an above average right handed pitcher in Matt Wisler, a talented yet raw single-A prospect in outfielder Jordan Paroubeck, plus the 41st pick in the upcoming draft.

The Braves are re-stocking their farm system, as they should. Besides, they are not going to compete this year with the Washington Nationals and that pitching staff, and two up and coming young teams the caliber of the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets. What is amusing, is to watch the Braves remold and reload while the other lackluster team in that division, the Philidelphia Phillies fumble, flail, and fall.

The San Diego Padres

They are truly now in a all in mode. I understand exactly why they did this trade, but I also scratch my head at the particulars of the deal and the problems it still leaves when you pull off a blockbuster deal of this magnitude.

Craig Kimbrel is dominate. He leads the league in saves over the last 4 seasons. He is the best at his craft, and it is always good to trade for someone who is the best. Honestly, for what he brings, his contract is reasonable. Kimbrel, 26, will make $9 million this season and is owed $11 million in 2016 and $13 million in ’17, with a $13 million team option or $1 million buyout set for ’18. “It was an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up,” Preller said of landing Kimbrel. “Joaquin did well in Spring Training, but we saw an opportunity to acquire someone who is arguably the best at what he does in the game,” Preller said. “The impact Kimbrel has had on the game, it wasn’t as if we needed a closer, but it’s a unique opportunity to get an A-type performer.” I agree with every word uttered by Padres General Manager A.J. Preller.JoaquinBenoit

My question is, was the overall cost of this trade to large? Let’s try to answer this objectively. Did they already have a good closer? The answer is yes. Joaquin Benoit had a good spring, and has been a closer in the majors before. Granted, he is no Kimbrel, but it was not like their closer was injured or was blowing saves. They upgraded a position of strength to a position of dominance. Everybody watched what the Kansas City Royals did with their bull pen last year and everyone wants to copy that 1 year of success.

As mentioned above, if the Braves are saving $60 million then that means that the Padres are incurring $60 million more debt over the next 3 years. Most of it comes in the form of one man. Melvin Upton, 30, has struggled, to say it nicely,  the last two seasons with the Braves, hitting .184 in 2013 and .208 a year ago. He also  comes with a hefty contract. He’s owed $14.45 million this season, $15.45 million next season and $16.45 million in 2017. He is not the best at anything positive. In fact, he will not even be the center fielder in San Diego as Preller said Wil Myers will be in center.

2015PadresOutfield

The Padres already traded for 3 outfielders. Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers.

Melvin will not even begin the season on the active roster, Upton will begin the season on the disabled list with sesamoiditis in his left foot and isn’t expected back until May. For now, the team will carry four outfielders; Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Will Venable. Preller traded for 3 of those 4 outfielders in the off-season. So, the Padres currently have 4 outfielders and will soon have a 5th that will be making over $46 million dollars in the next 3 years. Again, they are trying to improve a position that does not need improving, and this time the price tag is higher and the talent is much worse than in the case with Kimbrel.

Plus, don’t forget the Padres traded away two prospects and a 1st round pick in the upcoming draft as well. Wisler was the Padres’ No. 4 prospect and Paroubeck was rated No. 15 by MLB.com. Wisler would have started the season in the starting rotation for Triple-A El Paso, with Paroubeck likely ticketed for Class A Fort Wayne.

Let’s review, the Padres gave up 2 outfielders (Cameron Maybin has battled injury the last couple of years and will flourish in Atlanta) only to receive a more expensive less talented outfielder in return. They upgraded a position they were already competitive in compared to the rest of the league. Took on $60 million more in payroll and gave up a highly talented, young, controllable pitcher and a 1st round draft pick.

Kimbrel is by far the best player in this trade, but overall the Braves won this deal. Lastly, the Padres are pushing out all of their chips into the middle of the table. Which is about $110 million dollars worth. But to their right and left sit the Giants and Dodgers. They are each holding some of their chips back, yet still have more chips pushed out in the middle of the table than the Padres do.

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