San Diego Padres: 2021 MLB Trade Deadline Grades
The San Diego Padres made a splash, albeit a smaller one, at the 2021 trade deadline, as they acquired infielder Adam Frazier from the Pittsburgh Pirates, right-handed relief pitcher Daniel Hudson from the Washington Nationals, and outfielder Jake Marisnick from the Chicago Cubs. Though these moves certainly stamped San Diego as buyers during the deadline action, they pale in name-value comparison to the blockbuster deal that the Los Angeles Dodgers made to acquire RHP Max Scherzer and SS Trea Turner, and the San Francisco Giants‘ trade for 3B Kris Bryant.
However, a deeper dive into the iteration of the team post-deadline reveals reason for optimism for Padres fans. Because of San Diego’s established core, including Fernando Tatis Jr., Yu Darvish, Jake Cronenworth, Manny Machado, and plenty more, these seemingly small additions may be just what the team needs to get hot and not only push for a playoff run this year, but also for plenty of seasons to come. Let’s grade all of these deals, from worst to best:
Padres trade RHP Anderson Espinoza to Cubs in exchange for CF Jake Marisnick: C-
This deal was a relatively insignificant one, as the Padres moved one of their middle-tier pitching prospects in exchange for some depth in the outfield. Marisnick offers decent pop at the dish, but not much else. There isn’t much to talk about on this one.
Padres trade RHP Mason Thompson to Nationals in exchange for RHP Daniel Hudson: B
The Padres, already owners of the league’s best bullpen by ERA, bolstered the pen once again by trading for Nationals fireman Daniel Hudson. On the season, Hudson owns a minuscule 2.20 ERA over 32.2 innings, and has struck out 13.2 batters per 9 innings. While the move doesn’t seem to make much sense given that the starting rotation is a more glaring need, it’s clear that the Padres have the playoffs in mind. In October, teams switch to, at most, using a four-man rotation and often pull starters early to let relievers gain favorable matchups. You can only have so many starters, but you can never have too many elite relievers. And, with electric starting pitcher Dinelson Lamet set to come back from injury soon, and Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish’s elite performances thus far, the Padres decision to not overbuy on starting pitching seems like a good one.
Padres trade SS Tucupita Marcano, RHP Michell Miliano and CF Jack Suwinski to Pirates in exchange for 2B Adam Frazier: A
The Padres’ trade for Frazier was far-and-away their biggest, and, if not for Frazier’s low name value in Pittsburgh, the deal certainly would have made bigger headlines, given Frazier’s elite hitting this year. To get Frazier, the Padres gave Marcano, their prized No. 6 prospect, according to Keith Law, and Suwinski and Miliano, two above-average prospects. For such a hefty prospect haul, the Padres got great value, as Frazier leads the MLB in hits this year, with 129, and made his first All-Star appearance as well with a 2.6 WAR. Even with the injury to Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres now own four All-Star caliber players, in Frazier, Cronenworth, Machado, and Eric Hosmer. If Tatis is able to return this year (though it looks like he may not), the Padres would have arguably the most dangerous lineup in the league. If not, the addition of Frazier could still potentially vault them into contention.
Overall Grade: B+
Though many Padres fans were upset at the moves, or lack thereof, that the Padres made at the deadline, a step back reveals a thought process very similar to that of the Dodgers in the late 2010’s trade deadlines – corral enough talent for the chance to win a title, but don’t sell the farm for only one shot at glory. The Dodgers experienced plenty of heartbreak, but eventually celebrated that formula with a ring in 2020 and continue to be elite.
Given that Mike Clevinger will return next year from Tommy John surgery and Tatis may not play again until 2022 as well, the Padres’ decision to avoid the allure of instant gratification should certainly pay dividends as their team in years to come will be much more talented than their (already contending) current team.