Early Tuesday, the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees agreed on a trade that will send veteran Chase Headley and fringe pitcher Bryan Mitchell to Petco Park in exchange for outfielder Jabari Blash. The deal, initially reported by Joel Sherman of New York Post, has yet to be confirmed by the two clubs.
The Padres will reportedly absorb all of Headley’s remaining contract, as the 33-year-old is owed $13 million for 2018. Headley’s contract, signed in 2015, expires after the 2018 Major League Baseball campaign. San Diego essentially bought themselves a prospect in Mitchell by taking on the Headley contract.
This was the main appeal in making this transaction for the Yankees, the financial wiggle room it provides. The Headley trade allows the Bronx Bombers to further pursue a re-signing of third baseman Todd Frazier, or an upgrade in starting pitching.
The main figure in this transaction is Headley, who was frequently shopped in his final seasons in pinstripes. However, San Diego is also getting a moderately talented pitching prospect in 26-year-old Mitchell. Mitchell posted a 2-6 record and 4.95 earned runs average over the past four seasons with New York, striking out 64 batters and notching a 1.617 WHIP.
While those are worrisome numbers, Mitchell will be assisted by playing in the pitcher-friendly park in San Diego rather than Yankee Stadium, a hitter’s dream. Mitchell, who hasn’t yet become arbitration eligible, is under team control for several more years.
The return is the 28-year-old Blash, who has been one of the least valuable players in MLB during his tenure with the Padres. The outfielder has a career -0.2 Wins Above Replacement, batting .200 with an on-base percentage and slugging percentage both under .350. Blash has some speed to him, however, and could wind up being a decent late-game pinch-running option for New York, with the ability to defend.
In a feel good story, Headley returns to San Diego, the franchise that drafted the former Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner. Headley was traded to New York for Yangervis Solarte and a prospect back in 2014, and has now been shipped back to the team with which he placed fifth in National League MVP voting in 2012.
Even if the Padres, especially in a tough NL West, are a long way from contending, Headley will provide a veteran presence for the youngsters in the dugout and a fun experience for fans of a team he led for the better part of his MLB career. Headley, who previously paced the National League in RBIs with the Padres in 2012, batted .273 with 12 home runs in 147 games last season.