Two years ago the Padres owned arguably the best overall third baseman in baseball. And despite Chase Headley’s production – he finished second in fWAR among all third basemen, topped the league average offensive production by 45%, and played solid average defense – the club languished in near the bottom of the standings.
While the club ran out plenty of young talent – Yonder Alonso, Logan Forsythe, Everth Cabrera, Cameron Maybin, and Yasmani Grandal – it was caught in a developmental no man’s land. There were certainly building blocks in place, but it was a flawed team with much of its top prospects still several years away, especially after burping up the latest wave.
Instead of taking what’s now known as Astros’ approach, the one way they sell off everything not nailed down, the franchise opted to keep its most valuable commodity as he entered his age-29 season, his theoretical peak value.
Fast forward two years with two more dismal finishes, plus a new regime, and the Padres dealt Headley at his lowest value, selling for a fraction of a penny on the dollar.
Yes, Headley’s production has fallen since his breakout season. And, yes, he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year. But he’s averaged nearly 3.8 fWAR per 162 games since 2013. Pro-rate that for the Yankees’ remaining 64 games, and a reasonable expectation would be about 1.5 to 2.0-wins, which is quite a lot for a team down the stretch.
And for that the Padres’ acquired Yangervis Solarte, a career minor leaguer who had a couple hot months, and a 23-year-old right-hander who owns some intriguing peripherals in his second stint in high Class A. Oh, yeah, the San Diego kicked in $1 million too.
Solarte spent nine seasons in the minors, hitting .288/.339/.401 while spending time all over the diamond. He got off on a staggeringly hot start, slugging .325/.403/.504 through May 15th, but posted a .186/.271/.264 since. At 26, he is what he is – a replacement level player.
Rafael De Paula, the second player acquired, has consistently posted strong peripherals throughout his career. But his ceiling more likely than not resides near the backend of a rotation or the bullpen. Using a formula I’ve derived off of Bill James’ Similarity Scores focusing on comparing current prospects to former minor leaguers, De Paula’s best comps are…wait for it…Shawn Nottingham, Celson Polanco, and Matt Ott.
After hitting a homerun on their first deal with the Angels, the Padres really failed to capitalize on their return for Headley, who, despite some unimpressive batting lines over the past season-plus, remains an above-average regular.
Photo courtesy of nbcsandiego.com.