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For the first time since 2010, the Padres are in a bonafide pennant race, albeit in an abbreviated season due to COVID-19. San Diego owns the second-best record in the National League at 22-15 and, according to Fangraphs, has a 98.9% chance to make the playoffs in an extended format. Over the weekend, the Padres made six trades, headlined by Monday’s deal for Cleveland ace Mike Clevinger.
With all the wheeling and dealing, the farm system was greatly impacted — not much of a surprise when you consider the price of adding at the trade deadline. San Diego jettisoned a total of 15 players from the organization and a 16th will be sent to Kansas City as a player to be named in the Trevor Rosenthal deal. The Padres have brought in two catchers, four relievers, a starting pitcher, and a slugger expected to serve primarily as the designated hitter. Due to the volume of moves that were made by the organization, we will take a look here at the players the Padres brought into the organization. In a separate piece, we review the impact the trade deadline has had on the Padres’ system. Here is the list of the players joining the organization.
C Austin Nola (via SEA)
C Jason Castro (via LAA)
RHP Austin Adams (via SEA)
RHP Dan Altavilla (via SEA)
RHP Trevor Rosenthal (via KC)
1B/DH Mitch Moreland (via BOS)
RHP Mike Clevinger (via CLE)
OF Greg Allen (via CLE)
RHP Taylor Willams (via SEA)
PTBNL (via CLE)
Clevinger gives the Padres the ace that they were searching for to help them in a bid for their first playoff game since 2006. In four starts this season, Clevenger has a 1-1 record with a 3.18 ERA. Last season, the 29-year-old pitched to a 2.71 ERA in 21 starts for the Indians.
“I’m stoked that they wanted me here,” the Florida native said during a Zoom meeting with local media on Monday afternoon. “It’s a destination where a lot of guys would like to be. I think it’s all about showing up to the ballpark and being able to contend and I know it’s been since 2006 [that the Padres have made the playoffs.] There’s definitely something special brewing here and something special for the coming years, not just this year.”
“Based on my Twitter account, a lot of people are [upset],” said Mark Schwab of Cleveland 19 News. “People are upset and I get it because in this move, the Indians look like the sellers. The best player in the deal is Clevinger.
“From my perspective, they had a lot of suitors and it’s not like they turned down a better deal. There was a reason they went with these guys. They were talking to a lot of clubs and you can’t tell me somebody didn’t offer a major league piece that was already playing in the outfield and could produce a little bit so I think they settled on these guys for a reason. [The Indians] have done really well in the last few years with these big trades, so you feel like something is there but I don’t know when we are going to see it.”
While the rest of the Padres’ acquisitions don’t have the same pedigree or notoriety as Clevinger, the club was able to land players who can largely be controlled beyond this year.
Catcher Austin Nola has been in the midst of a breakout campaign with the Mariners, after making his big league debut in 2019. In 2020, the 30-year-old backstop is hitting a robust .306/.373/.531, good for a wRC+ of 145. His fWAR of 1.2 is tied with Phillies backstop J.T. Realmuto for the highest mark for any catcher in baseball.
Originally drafted by the Miami Marlins in the fifth round in 2012, Nola came up as a shortstop. The Athletic chronicled Nola’s transition to catcher and how changes to his swing enabled him to take his offensive game to a level he never experienced as a professional. The Padres are clearly betting on the adjustments Nola made, considering the haul they sent to Seattle to acquire him. Nola won’t be eligible for arbitration until the 2023 season and won’t reach free agency until after 2025, so he could be the Padres catcher of the present and future.
Before acquiring Nola, the Padres obtained veteran catcher Jason Castro from the Los Angeles Angels. Castro, 33, is hitting .192/.323/.385 this season — good for a wRC+ of 98, which would represent a massive upgrade from what the Padres have received from their backstops this season. With Castro and Nola, the Padres have overhauled their catching tandem overnight.
RHP Austin Adams, currently on the 60-day IL, is still recuperating from an ACL tear last September. He worked out in summer camp and is “close” to being ready, according to reports. Last season, Adams averaged nearly 15 strikeouts per nine innings in 29 games out of the Mariners ‘pen. Seattle acquired him last May in a waiver-wire trade with the Nationals. Adams is a fastball/slider pitcher, with his heater averaging 95.2 mph a season ago. Assuming he’s healthy, he gives the Padres an arm that they could slot into the end of their bullpen.
Altavilla, 27, has a big arm but command has eluded him as a big leaguer. In 11.2 innings this year, Altavilla has walked seven but has struck out 14. His hard-hit percentage of 27.3% ranks 32nd among the 197 relievers that have thrown at least 10 innings in 2020. He throws a fastball that has averaged 97.4 mph this season, though he has only thrown it 47.5% of the time while relying more heavily on a hard slider than in previous years. He gives the Padres ‘pen another arm to throw into the mix, though has no minor league options left.
Mitch Moreland, 34, brings a veteran bat with a penchant for big spots. This season, Moreland is hitting a blazing .328/.430/.746 with eight homers in 79 plate appearances. Moreland has also homered three times in 33 plate appearances in the World Series, having appeared in the Fall Classic with Texas in 2010 and 2011, as well as Boston’s championship team in 2018. Moreland figures to slot into the DH slot for the Padres on most days despite significant career platoon splits. The Padres can retain Moreland in 2021 with a $3 million option, or pay a $500,000 buyout.
RHP Trevor Rosenthal was brought in from the Royals, where he was serving as their closer. The veteran right-hander was a stalwart in the Cardinals’ bullpen through his first six seasons until undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2018. Last season, Rosenthal struggled mightily with command and bounced between three organizations on the way to a 13.50 ERA in the Majors and 16 walks in 15 minor league innings.
This season, Rosenthal refound his fastball command and had a 3.29 ERA with seven saves for Kansas City. The hard-throwing righty is eligible for free agency after this season.
Taylor Williams was acquired right at Monday’s deadline from the Seattle Mariners, as the Padres continued to renovate the bullpen. Williams, 29, has a 5.93 ERA in 13.2 innings for Seattle, though that is skewed by the five runs he gave up to his new club in a walk-off loss last week. The hard-throwing righty has averaged over 12 strikeouts per nine innings this season. Originally drafted and developed by the Brewers, he gives the Padres another right-handed weapon in the back of the bullpen and has one option remaining.
Greg Allen comes back home as part of the Clevinger deal with Cleveland. An alumni of Hilltop High and San Diego State, Allen has the tools to be a prototypical fifth outfielder. The speedy outfielder has struggled at the plate this year, hitting just .160/.214/.320 in 28 plate appearances. Allen does have the ability to play center field and should be an adequate backup to Trent Grisham, although Allen hasn’t graded out well defensively as a big leaguer.