Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish has just come out with a story stating that the San Diego Padres might be interested in Elvis Andrus. That could be a possibility; let’s explore some options for the two teams …
The Texas Rangers came very close to winning the American League Division Series. A few errors in the seventh inning of the decisive game five of the ALDS, including two by Andrus, helped the Toronto Blue Jays rally to win the game, 6-3. These errors were a huge disappointment. Not exactly the best time to have back-to-back misplays on the field.
Andrus has been under scrutiny since signing a multi-million dollar deal in April 2013. Eight years and $118 million is a ton of money to spend on a player. The production from Andrus is not typical from a $100 million player. He has virtually no power and is average at best on the field. He does produce, though, and is out there every day for his team, although he was noted as being the worst shortstop in the Majors before this season, according to his WAR.
With seven years left on Andrus’ contract for a grand total of $103 million, it is no secret that the Rangers would like to move Andrus. Would the Padres consider trading for the shortstop? The Padres need a shortstop and Andrus would fit the bill, but that amount of money left is enormous. That being said, the two teams match up very well in a potential trade.
On the bright side, Andrus is very durable and has played in 156 or more games in each of the last four seasons. You can count on him every day, and that in itself is very valuable when you are talking about the captain of the infield.
His offensive game is about making contact and hitting early in the count. The Rangers had initially used him at the top of the order, but he just doesn’t walk enough, nor carry a high enough on-base percentage to hit leadoff. He does have some speed as he has 217 stolen bases in his career, including 25 bases last season.
His on-base percentage for his career is at .331, which is not all that bad. To put that into perspective, primary Padres shortstop Alexi Amarista has a .280 career on-base percentage. Andrus would be a huge offensive upgrade over any shortstop the Padres currently have on the roster. He hit .258 last season with seven home runs and 62 runs batted in. His WAR last season was 2.1, and he has a career total of 20.4 in seven seasons.
Fielding wise, Andrus is not known as a great fielder. His numbers have always been right at the Major League normal for the position. He will not kill you at shortstop, but he is not a flashy type of player either. He will get a lot of negative press for his playoff errors, but mistakes are part of the game. Andrus has the moxie to shake off the errors and put them in the past.
So what kind of player could be included to balance out this deal? The obvious choice would be James Shields. The Rangers already have Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish on their team at the top of the order. The numbers on Shields have suffered of late, but in the Rangers rotation he wouldn’t be required to carry the majority of the load. Having him as the number-three pitcher would make the Texas rotation one of the best in the league.
Andrus is due at least $103 million for the next seven seasons, while Shields is due at least $65 million for the next three years. The deal would still not make sense financially for the Padres, but if the Rangers were to take on Melvin Upton Jr. and his $31.9 million for the next two seasons, then the Padres might be really interested.
The Rangers would probably not want anything to do with Upton, but the potential of getting out of Andrus’s contract long-term might just be too enticing for them to ignore. Yes, Upton is making way too much for his production the last three seasons, but he is only under contract for two seasons and Shields for three.
The Rangers would have to pay $21 and $22 million dollars more for Shields and Upton for the next two seasons. They would also have to pay $6 million more for Shields as opposed to Andrus for the 2018 season, but then they save $13, $15, $14, and $14 million from 2019-2022. They pay up front but gain flexibility in the long run.
So why would the Padres want to take on Andrus and pay him $6.1 million more than Upton or Shields in total value? Well, is it better to be invested long-term in a 27-year-old shortstop or a 34-year-old pitcher and an overpriced outfielder? Andrus does come with question marks, but at a salary of $14 and $15 million annually he is not killing you too bad financially.
The Rangers are clearly motivated to move Andrus, and depending on how much they covet Shields and value losing Andrus’ money off the books, the Padres could get even more in the deal.
The Rangers also have a need at catcher, and Austin Hedges or Derek Norris would be huge upgrade for them. The potential for these two teams to pull off a blockbuster deal is very high. Jon Daniels and A.J. Preller are very good friends and have a great relationship with each other. We shall see what comes to fruition if anything.
** A version of this article first appeared in EastVillageTimes.com (Quality Padres News)