I suppose you can think of these a series, if that calms your nerves. Over the next few weeks, as key trade candidates pop up, I'll cover the names that could replace them in the lineup card. Some of these trade candidates will be big names, like when I covered Jose Reyes' possible replacements. But I'll also cover some of the lesser names, and we'll start with one that's kind of on the fringes- Padres outfielder Ryan Ludwick.
Ludwick is presumably familiar with trade rumors, as the Padres acquired him at the trade deadline from St. Louis last season, and he's back in the news this year as the Pads struggle to contend. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports has already reported on three teams that have inquired on Ludwick, the Phillies, Mariners and Reds, so let's see who could fill his shoes in California if a trade occurs
Aaron Cunningham: In my opinion, Cunningham is the club's best alternative should they trade Ludwick, but he's struggled to establish himself in each of his stints at the big league level. But Cunningham is only 25, and he's hitting .297/.372/.466 at Triple-A this year with much-improved K/BB numbers. Cunningham doesn't have Venable's power-speed combination, but he's got far better on-base skills.
Kyle Blanks: Blanks, 24, appeared to be the club's first baseman of the future before Tommy John surgery knocked him out for most of the 2010 season, and now that title is firmly in the hands of Anthony Rizzo. Considering that, left field may be the most likely landing spot for Blanks in San Diego. He's spent the occasional game at left field this season while hitting .306/.370/.533 between Double-A and Triple-A, and could give the Padres some additional pop if they can tolerate below-average defense. Otherwise, Blanks seems like a possible trade candidate.
Brad Hawpe: Hawpe began the season as San Diego's first baseman after spending years in right field for the Rockies, but he quickly ended up on the bench. Hawpe is capable of playing the outfield, albeit poorly, and he's hit .278/.354/.424 since April 25. So while he's on the DL right now and is firmly in the long-shot category, Hawpe could get some playing time in Ludwick's spot should he depart.
Cedric Hunter: Hunter got a cup of coffee earlier this year, making his MLB debut, but he's a fringe prospect and may not even project as a fourth outfielder. He's flashed good contact skills throughout the minors, usually striking out in only ~8% of his PA's, but he doesn't walk much, has little power and is a below-average defender in center field. He could end up seeing some time in left field this year, but probably not before the four guys listed above him.
Will Venable: The 28-year-old came into the season as the club's primary right fielder after posting 2.7 WAR in 131 games for the Padres last season, but he quickly lost his job this year with replacement-level play. He's spent some time at Triple-A this year, but he's currently San Diego's fourth outfielder, and you have to imagine that he's first in line to get playing time should Ludwick get traded.