San Diego Padres trade deadline primer: The case to buy and the case to sell

At 38-51 and in the cellar of the NL West, all eyes are on the future in San Diego. Eyes are also on the upcoming July 31 trading deadline; where baseball fans across the globe will be glued to Twitter and their televisions to get the latest on trade news and rumors.

For the Padres, this deadline is shaping up to be a very interesting one. San Diego is at an important part of their rebuild, and General Manager A.J. Preller and the Padres front office will have important decisions to make. Should they look to buy, acquiring a key player with years of control that will help them in 2019 and beyond? Should they sell their soon-to-be free agents and much-desired bullpen pieces? Should they do a combination of both? Sit it out entirely?

These are questions that will be addressed as July carries on.

The case to buy

The Padres have been connected to 3B Maikel Franco, SS Manny Machado, and SP Michael Fulmer in recent weeks. This has raised the eyebrows of some, especially given the fact that the team is 10.5 games back in the NL West. The Maikel Franco news is understandable, as San Diego has a need at the hot corner and their strength (bullpen) matches up well with Philadelphia’s needs.

The other two players mentioned, though, would likely require a haul of prospects.

Why would the front office of a rebuilding team pursue such a thing? Well, they might believe that they are closer to contention than people think… and it is not too hard to see why. Two franchise cornerstones (Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Urias) are set to be up with the big league club in 2019 at the latest, waves of pitching talent from the minors should be starting to arrive soon, and the team does not want to waste Eric Hosmer in his prime. 2019 will also begin a sharp ascension in the contract of Wil Myers, who will receive $3 million before earning $20 million in 2020, ‘21, and ‘22.

There are also rumblings out there that the Padres will at least be somewhat aggressive in free agency this offseason, whether it be to acquire a starting pitcher or perhaps a third baseman.

Another possible reason to buy: The Padres have many players who are Rule V eligible that must be added to the 40-man roster by December. If they are not, the organization would potentially lose them with no compensation. Second baseman Luis Urias, starting pitchers Chris Paddack, Anderson Espinoza, Jacob Nix, Brett Kennedy, and Pedro Avila, outfielders Michael Gettys and Edward Olivares, and catcher Austin Allen are all Rule V eligible. The Padres will surely add Urias, Paddack, and Espinoza to the 40-man. The others, though, are hardly a slam dunk.

Trading a few of them and getting MLB-ready players in return is certainly an option.

With all that being said, if the Padres see a deal that fits for a controllable player, it certainly would not be too crazy for them to pursue it.

As far as a player like Machado, who will be seeking a $300 million contract at the minimum when he becomes a free agent in the offseason, that idea might be a little far-fetched. If A.J. Preller & co. were to go that route, they probably would either have plans to recruit him for a half-season with hopes of luring him to re-sign, or flip him to another contending team once the deal is complete.

The case to sell

The Padres are in last place in their division, currently in line for the 7th pick in the draft, and likely two years away from when their window of contention truly opens up. They have plenty of attractive pitching pieces that could entice contenders, especially in the bullpen. If San Diego wanted to add more young talent to the organization, this could be their one final hurrah. Listed below are a handful of players that will likely be dangled in trade talks:

FanCred’s Jon Heyman also listed a number of players who could be available. Heyman stated that the Padres are expected to be “very active” during the deadline. For fans who are all in on 2018, it would be difficult to see the Padres to trade key members of the bullpen… however, when a team is in last place, the last thing needed is a stacked ‘pen.

San Diego has already seen relievers such as Jose Castillo and Robert Stock get promotions to the big leagues, and there are more on the way. Down on the farm, there are plenty of young pieces that could get the call to replace those who are traded, such as Brad Wieck, Trey Wingenter, and Phil Maton.

Trading relievers makes sense when it comes to future roster decisions, too. As stated before, the Padres have some decisions to make when it comes to adding players to the 40-man roster this winter. Dealing expiring contracts (Ross, Galvis) as well as bullpen pieces will not only bring back talent, but open up roster spots for the players that are coming. In theory, it is a win-win.

The case to hold

If there is one thing that we know about the A.J. Preller era, it is that if he does not get exactly what he wants in a trade, he will not make it. He holds all of his chips in high regard, as evidenced by his track record during trade deadlines. If the trade market develops into a buyers market like last season, him holding on to most (if not all) of his players could very well become a reality.

Plus, if the Padres truly believe that they can contend for a playoff spot in 2019, holding onto key members of a very good bullpen is not the worst idea. Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates, and Brad Hand are all controllable. There is an argument to be made that the Padres can always find more bullpen pieces, but that is a risky assumption. There are not a lot of Brad Hands or Kirby Yateses out there.

San Diego could even look to pursue a contract extension with starting pitcher Tyson Ross, who often expresses his love for the Padres organization.

Staying put might not be the most popular move, but if the value is not there in potential returns, the front office might not have a choice but to do just that.

July is an exciting month for baseball fans everywhere, from the All-Star festivities to division races taking form. The trade deadline is just the cherry on top, and it should be exciting to see what players are moved as teams focus their eyes on October.