As we approach July 31, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
San Diego Padres, 38-50, 4th in the NL West
What moves have they made so far?
The Padres seem to be taking a "one man's loss is another man's profit" approach to roster composition this season, as they've taken frequent advantage of their favorable waiver position to claim players designated for assignment by other clubs. They claimed a pair of right-handed relievers from the Angels, adding Kirby Yates on April 26 and Jose Valdez on May 10. They claimed infielder Chase d'Arnaud off waivers from the Red Sox on May 21, then claimed lefty Dillon Overton from the Mariners on June 19.
They also made a trade in order to obtain a player who had been DFA'd, acquiring outfielder Matt Szczur from the Cubs for minor-league pitcher Justin Hancock on May 8. The Padres lost Luis Sardiñas, who was their primary starting shortstop for the last two months of the 2016 season, on waivers to the Orioles on May 24.
Are they buyers or sellers?
The rebuilding Padres don't have a ton of huge trade pieces, but they'll try to get whatever they can for the veterans who don't fit into their long-term plans. They're building around first baseman Wil Myers, but none of the other veteran players on their current roster look to be in line to make significant contributions to the next competitive Padres club. Thus, it makes sense for them to sell as much as they can and try to rebuild a farm system that still hasn't completely recovered from being purged as GM A.J. Preller traded for a pack of veterans that included Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Craig Kimbrel before the 2015 season.
Who could they trade?
San Diego's most intriguing trade chip is left-handed reliever Brad Hand, who was their lone All-Star this season and may be the best bullpen arm on the trade market this summer. Since coming to the Padres on a waiver claim from the Marlins last April, Hand has been phenomenal, posting a 2.71 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP, 171 strikeouts, and just 49 walks in 124 appearances spanning 136.1 innings. He's making just $1.375 million this season and is under club control through 2019. While he's one of the league's premier left-handed relievers and is very affordable, it's unlikely that the Padres will be a real threat in the NL West before Hand hits free agency, so they might as well take advantage of his tremendous trade value and deal him to the highest bidder before the deadline.
Closer Brandon Maurer has also been talked about as a potential trade candidate in recent weeks, with the Yankees reportedly inquiring about his availability. The 27-year-old right-hander has never had an exceptionally great season, but he has a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s, has collected 19 saves this season, and has struck out 35 batters while walking just seven over 35.1 innings. His 5.60 ERA isn't pretty, but he has enough ability that he'll intrigue some contending clubs, especially since he's making just $1.9 million this season and, like Hand, is under club control through 2019.
While he's had a rather average season, starter Jhoulys Chacin will likely be attractive to clubs in need of rotation depth, especially a team like the Royals that's in need of a back-of-the-rotation starter but can't afford to break the bank. Chacin, who has a 4.32 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 18 first-half starts, is making just $1.75 million and is a free agent at the end of the season.
Infielder Yangervis Solarte may also be a trade candidate, depending on the progress of his recovery from a strained left oblique that has kept him out of action since June 23. Solarte, 30, provides tremendous value because of his ability to play first, second, and third base, and he's having a strong offensive campaign, hitting .268/.349/.425 with 10 homers through 289 plate appearances. He's also a great value, as he's in the first season of a two-year deal worth $7.5 million with club options for 2019-20.
Solarte, who is expected to begin a rehab assignment within the next week, could provide a major upgrade to a contender's bench, so it just comes down to whether a team is going to feel comfortable trading for him while he's fresh off an injury. If the Padres are going to deal him, it will likely have to be by July 31, because with his highly-affordable contract, it's doubtful that he'd pass through waivers in August.
Off-the-field matters could also complicate a Solarte trade. His wife died of cancer last September, leaving him as the single father of three young daughters, so it's possible that San Diego may hold onto him at least through the end of the season in order to avoid uprooting his family.
It seems to be a near certainty that Hand will be dealt before the deadline, with the Yankees and Nationals looking like the early favorites to land the left-hander. If the Padres get a solid offer for Maurer, it'd make sense for them to move him as well, and if they can get any value back for Chacin there's no reason to hold onto him. Since there are a lot of clubs in need of starting pitching and just a few front-of-the-rotation starters on the market, Chacin should have a fair number of suitors.
Since there isn't a great need for infield depth around the league this season and there are so many other players, including Zack Cozart, Eduardo Nunez, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, and Howie Kendrick, expected to be available on the market, it now seems unlikely that Solarte will be moved before the deadline. That's good, because after the Padres made a multi-year investment in Solarte, they owe him the courtesy of a full offseason to relocate his family if necessary.