The A.J. Preller Era: A Look at All 22 Trades So Far

Credit: KC Alfred/ AP Photo

12-19-14  In a three-way trade, the San Diego Padres acquire Wil Myers, Ryan Hanigan, Jose Castillo, and Gerardo Reyes, the Tampa Bay Rays acquire Rene Rivera, Burch Smith, Jake Bauers, and Steven Souza, and the Washington Nationals acquire Joe Ross and Trea Turner

A massive three-team deal took place in December 2014 that is still being talked about to this day. Joe Ross and Trea Turner were huge losses for the Padres farm system, but when you have a chance to acquire a talent like Myers, that’s the price you pay. Burch Smith and Jake Bauers were also prized prospects, and to this day, Preller probably takes the most abuse for this deal. Myers has performed when healthy. His wrist injuries appear to be over, and the Padres can only hope he finally is able to concentrate on performing to the best of his abilities. He has a special gift and just needs a little luck to become one of the best in the game. The former AL Rookie of the Year has hit six home runs in his first 33 games this season.

Joe Ross is currently in the Nationals rotation and has shown that he has the stuff to stick in the majors. He went 5-5 last season in 13 starts and was very impressive for a 22-year-old. He is already 2-0 in his first three starts this season. Trea Turner was up briefly last season with the Nationals, but is currently in Triple-A. He is hitting .364 there with two home runs, and will surely be called up at some point soon. He is the future for the Nationals at the top of the order and at the shortstop position. Padres fans will just have to deal with it.

Jake Bauers might end up being one of the better pieces the Padres moved last offseason. The left-handed hitting first baseman has developed faster than most his age, and at the age of 20 he is already playing successfully at the Double-A level. He hit .272 last season with 11 homers and 74 RBI. He could develop into a great major-league prospect in time. Burch Smith has been injured since the Rays acquired him and has yet to pitch for them. Rene Rivera had a horrible year for the Rays in 2015, hitting .178 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 110 games. He is currently in the Mets farm system and is hitting .250 for the Mets Triple-A team. This trade is difficult to assess, and in reality, we will not know who wins this deal for the next 10-15 years. Myers, Turner, and Ross are all off to great starts in their professional careers. Only time will tell on this deal.

12-19-14  The San Diego Padres acquire Justin Upton and Aaron Northcraft for Jace Peterson, Max Fried, Mallex Smith, and Dustin Peterson

The trade frenzy continued for the Padres as they acquired Justin Upton from the Atlanta Braves for several prospects. Upton had a decent year for the Padres and was the team’s only All-Star, but he chose to walk away after his free-agent year. Upton signed a massive deal with the Detroit Tigers (six years, $132.75 million) that the Padres just had no intention of matching. So far this year, Upton is leading the major leagues in strikeouts with 30 in his first 70 at-bats for the Tigers.

The Braves got two very good prospects from the Padres in Mallex Smith and Max Fried. The left-handed Fried was the Padres’ top pick (7th overall) in the 2012 draft. He missed all of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he has excellent stuff. In three games this year in Single-A ball, he has a 3.94 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched. He is well on his way to returning and, at the age of 22, he has plenty of upside. Mallex Smith is currently on the Braves 25-man roster and is getting some at-bats in the majors. He owns a .143 batting average through his first 42 at-bats and has struck out 15 times. He might be overmatched at the moment, but he has the ability to be very special. The 22-year-old speedster had a batting line last year of .303/.371/.378 with 56 stolen bases in 125 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

The two Petersons were also dealt to the Braves, and Jace Peterson paid immediate dividends for them. He played in 152 games last season for the Braves, hitting .239 with six homers and 52 RBIs. He was their everyday second baseman but has played sporadically this season, getting 32 at-bats while hitting .216. Dustin Peterson is a 21-year-old outfielder/third baseman who is developing nicely. He hit .251 last season with eight homers and 62 RBIs for the Braves’ Single-A team. This season so far he has already smacked two homers and is currently hitting .275 in Double-A. This deal could work out rough for the Padres, as Upton was allowed to leave for a draft pick and Northcraft is in El Paso. In all reality, he is nothing more than an average middle reliever at best. Smith and Fried could be special. Cross your fingers, Padres fans.

12-20-14  The San Diego Padres acquire Will Middlebrooks from the Boston Red Sox for Ryan Hanigan

This goes down as one of A.J. Preller’s best deals so far. The Padres traded the catcher (the day after acquiring him) to the Red Sox for Will Middlebrooks because they seemed to be collecting right-handed power hitters. Middlebrooks didn’t work out for the Padres, but the best part of the deal was clearing Hanigan and his hefty $7.5 million dollar contract off the books.

Middlebrooks was released by the team and is currently in the Milwaukee Brewers system. He is currently hitting .119 in Colorado Springs (Brewers Triple-A affiliate). Hanigan did nothing spectacular for the Red Sox, hitting .247 in a backup role last season with two homers and 16 RBIs. He is currently hitting .200 for the Sox. The Padres got the best of this deal. To this day, I don’t understand why the Red Sox wanted Hanigan. He is an expensive backup catcher with little to no upside. To each their own.

12-29-14  The San Diego Padres acquire Shawn Kelley from the New York Yankees for Johnny Barbato

The Padres had now rebuilt their offense and it was time to acquire some arms for the pitching staff. The first addition to the bullpen was a little known, unheralded relief pitcher named Shawn Kelley. The veteran reliever had some decent seasons for the Yankees and Seattle Mariners, and the Friars hoped he had one more left in him. He had a great year for the Padres in 2015, going 2-2 on the season with a 2.45 ERA in 53 games. He was very solid after a slow start and quickly became one of the Padres’ most reliable relievers.

In acquiring Kelley, the team parted with a decent prospect. Johnny Barbato has a nice arm and is currently in the Yankees bullpen. He had an incredible year last season after being promoted to the Yankees Triple-A team. He put up decent numbers in Double-A, but after his promotion to the highest minor-league level, he went off. Barbato was 4-0 in 14 games and 25 innings pitched, striking out 26 and recording a 0.36 ERA. He earned a spot in the bullpen after a decent spring and is currently 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA through his first seven major-league games. This trade helped the Padres last season, but Kelley left via free agency after the year signing with the Washington Nationals this past winter. He signed a three-year/$15 million dollar deal. This deal could hurt, especially with the Padres’ lack of middle relief arms.

12-30-14  The San Diego Padres acquire Brandon Maurer from the Seattle Mariners for Seth Smith

With the additions of Wil Myers, Justin Upton, and Matt Kemp, the Padres outfield was crowded. It was jam-packed because the whole existing outfield from the 2014 season was still on the Padres 40-man roster. Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, Will Venable, and Seth Smith were still Padres and obviously something needed to be changed within the roster. Seth Smith was the offensive MVP for the Padres in 2014, but he was traded to the Mariners simply because he had no place to play.

The Mariners got a productive year out of Smith in 2015 as he hit .248 with 12 homers in 136 games for the M’s. The Padres, on the other hand, got a great young pitcher in return for Smith. Brandon Maurer looks to be a fixture on the Padres pitching staff for a long time. He went 7-4 last season with a 3.00 ERA in 53 games and 51 innings pitched. Maurer has the ability to pitch in relief or as a starter, and his future is not really set in stone right now. He is in the bullpen at the moment, but he has the arsenal to effectively start if need be.

03-30-15  The San Diego Padres acquire Cory Mazzoni and Brad Wieck from the New York Mets for Alex Torres

The Padres, for some reason, traded their lone left-hander in the bullpen when camp broke. The deal was a surprise, as most viewed Torres as a lock to make the Padres bullpen. Torres was effective but did have a wild streak to him, too. In the end, that is what probably cost him his job in San Diego. The team could just not trust Torres to consistently throw strikes. He went to the Mets and was 0-0 last year with a 3.15 ERA. He struck out 35 batters in his 34 innings pitched, but in true Torres fashion, he also walked 26 batters.

Cory Mazzoni got rocked in his major-league call-up last season for the Padres. In his eight innings pitched, Mazzoni gave up an astounding 23 hits and 20 runs to the tune of a 20.72 ERA. Simply amazing. He pitched okay in Triple-A in 2015, going 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA, so you have to chalk up the shelling at the major-league level as a fluke thing. This season he has yet to allow a run in El Paso. He was recently removed from the 40-man roster so he could be on the move soon. The best player in the deal was the PTBNL. That turned out to be young southpaw Brad Wieck. The big lefty went 7-11 last season in 23 starts with a 4.09 ERA. He struck out 139 batters in 123 innings pitched. This season the Padres have turned him into a reliever and he has pitched with much success, going 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA.

One Response

  1. ballybunion

    Well, you could have mentioned Justin Upton turned into an extra pick in the June draft, as did Ian Kennedy. With their protected #8, and all the free agent signings moving up their two supplementary picks to #23 and #24, the Padres now have, in effect, three first round picks in a very rich draft, especially in quick-developing college pitchers.

    You also could have mentioned that Guerra looks like a better shortstop prospect than Trea Turner, and that Pomeranz is turning that trade into a steal. When you look at the trades as a group, you can see some of Preller’s strategy of sometimes taking a step back to set up two steps forward. Even the players acquired in so-so trades might be involved in the next moves.


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