The San Diego Padres and Carlos Quentin stand to benefit if the outfielder is playing elsewhere by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The Padres can trade Quentin and still re-sign him as a free agent after the season. Quentin, 29, is from San Diego and surely would give his hometown Padres serious consideration when he has his pick of major-league teams during the offseason. And because of the new collective bargaining agreement, the Padres wouldn’t need to surrender draft picks in order to bring him back.
The Padres may want to sign him to an extension now, but that would be difficult while the franchise awaits new ownership. The O’Malley family — which owned the Dodgers for decades — has agreed to purchase the club from John Moores for $800 million, according to FOXSports.com senior national baseball writer Ken Rosenthal. The O’Malleys could direct the decision-making of general manager Josh Byrnes even before they assume formal control.
So, the Padres should create a hedge: trade Quentin for prospects now and then try to sign him as a free agent after the sale is complete. In the end, Byrnes could end up with Quentin and the prospects.
That in mind, Byrnes must be careful where he sends Quentin. If the Padres are serious about bringing Quentin back, they shouldn’t send him to a city where he will have a strong desire to stay.
For example, it may not be a good idea for Byrnes to deal Quentin to the San Francisco Giants, an intra-division rival that needs the right-handed home run power Quentin provides. Quentin played college baseball at Stanford and might be charmed by the notion of spending several more years in the Bay Area.
Byrnes would be wise to send him to a market — Cleveland or Pittsburgh, for example — where Quentin isn’t known to have strong ties. Both teams have an obvious need for right-handed power and could be comfortable renting Quentin for two or three months.
In some respects, Cleveland would be an ideal destination for Quentin. The Indians play at hitter-friendly Progressive Field, and Quentin is familiar with American League Central pitchers from his time with the Chicago White Sox. Quentin has a .970 OPS with seven home runs in 30 games this season. Those totals would jump if he played his home games in Cleveland, rather than San Diego’s spacious Petco Park.
It’s a simple equation: shorter fences, more home runs, bigger free-agent contract.
Of course, this is predicated on Quentin staying healthy. Quentin didn’t play until Memorial Day after undergoing right knee surgery during spring training.
The Padres have a surplus of outfielders, making it likely they move Quentin — or someone else. The versatile Chris Denorfia is having a career year, with an .803 OPS while playing mostly right field. Denorfia would fit nicely with the Indians, Pirates or Tigers. Left-handed hitters Mark Kotsay, 36, and Will Venable, 29, have trade value, as well. Kotsay’s extensive postseason experience is a big part of his appeal as a reserve player, while Venable is under control for several more seasons.