The Best and Worst Trade of the Decade for the San Diego Padres

To say that the last decade has been a disappointment for the San Diego Padres would be a huge understatement. Their only winning season in the last 10 years came in 2010, but since then, San Diego has struggled to make a statement in the National League West. To boot, they haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, when they were knocked out of the NL Division Series by the St.Louis Cardinals.

Signing All-Star Manny Machado last offseason didn’t seem to help much, with the infielder hitting just .256 with 32 home runs in his first year with the Padres. But with several youngsters showing promise – headlined by Fernando Tatis Jr. – San Diego could be on the come up. They currently have one of the top minor-league systems in baseball, so we could see the Padres competing for the division sooner rather than later.

Over the next several weeks Baseball Essential will be doing a series on the best and worst trade every team in Major League Baseball has made over the last decade. Here is the best and worst trade the San Diego Padres have made since 2010.

The Best Trade The Padres Have Made Since 2010: San Diego acquires Fernando Tatis Jr. and Erik Johnson from the Chicago White Sox for James Shields and Cash (June 4, 2016).

The Padres made a move here that would instantly enhance their future. Little did they know that it would be such a win for them, at the time. San Diego was able to offload a very hefty James Shields contract to the White Sox while paying a portion of his salary as part of the trade. Shields had a relatively decent first year in a Padres uniform in 2015, but the 2016 season was a nightmare. At 34 years old, his best days were behind him. In return, San Diego acquired what would be their future shortstop and one of the most exhilarating young talents in the game in 2020: Fernando Tatis Jr.

The son of former big leaguer Fernando Tatis, the now 21-year-old had yet to play a professional game when he was traded in the summer of 2016. But in the coming years, he quickly proved to be one of the most complete prospects in baseball. After an outstanding minor-league career where he hit .280 across three seasons, Tatis made the big-league club out of 2019 spring training in 2019 and quickly made his presence felt.

Tatis collected two hits in his MLB debut and just days later hit his first home run in the show. That was just the start for the Padres shortstop, as the youngster went on to hit .317 with 22 home runs and 53 RBIs in 84 games. Defensively, Tatis was also brilliant, making highlight-reel plays on a weekly basis thanks to his tremendous range and cannon for an arm. A lower back injury cut his season short, but if he didn’t go on the shelf, he was definitely in the running to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award, which he finished third for behind Mike Soroka and Pete Alonso.

The future looks extremely bright for the Padres superstar. This is without a doubt the best trade San Diego has made in the last decade because they now have one of the best shortstops in the game who is a building block for many years to come.

The Worst Trade The Padres Have Made Since 2010: San Diego acquires Wil Myers, Ryan Hanigan, Jose Castillo, and Gerardo Reyes from the Washington Nationals and Tampa Bay Rays in a Three-Team Deal for Trea Turner, Joe Ross (Turner and Ross Went to Washington), Jake Bauers, Rene Rivera, and Burch Smith (Bauers, Rivera, and Smith Went to Tampa Bay) (December 19, 2014).

There’s a lot of names involved in this three-way trade between the Padres, Nationals, and Rays, but there are basically just two that determine how bad of a trade this was for San Diego. Just months earlier, the Padres drafted Trea Turner 13th overall out of North Carolina State. He profiled as an electrifying player who had loud tools across the board. In exchange, San Diego acquired a possible long-term piece offensively in Wil Myers. But let’s start with Turner.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, if the Padres kept Turner, then we wouldn’t have Tatis playing shortstop for us now.” Who knows if San Diego would have even made that trade for the 21-year-old phenom just two years later. But despite all of the speculations, they gave up a future stud in Turner. He quickly rose through the minors after the trade, making his major-league debut in 2015. Now the 26-year-old is one of Washington’s most reliable players both offensively and defensively.

Across five big-league seasons, Turner has hit .291 with a mind-boggling 159 stolen bases. He has consistently hit for average and power, cranking 19 home runs in each of the last two seasons while hitting at least .270 over the last three seasons. What’s most impressive about Turner is his ability to swipe bags. He has collected more than 40 stolen bases in two of the last three seasons while also managing to be a legit contributor at the plate.

On the defensive end, he’s a vacuum at shortstop, using his outstanding athleticism to range in the hole or up the middle to make the difficult plays look easy. If San Diego kept Turner, Tatis could’ve easily played third base, as well. He’s 6-foot-3 and more than athletic enough to play the hot corner. Oh, what could have been. Now Turner is a World Series champion while San Diego scratches their head about this awful trade.

Now, let’s get to the second part of this blockbuster deal that solidifies why it was the wrong move: Wil Myers. The 29-year old made his MLB debut in 2013 with Tampa Bay, going on to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award after hitting .293 with 13 home runs in 88 games. Then, in his first full big-league season (2014), Myers struggled, slashing .222 with six home runs in just 87 games due to a stress fracture in his wrist. Injuries have been a problem for Myers over his career, and that has been one of the reasons why this trade hasn’t worked out for San Diego.

During his time with the Padres, Myers has hit just .249 while failing to live up to the expectations that came with him. He’s played just three full seasons out of a possible five due to injuries. In those three years he finished in the top 10 in strikeouts in the National League; definitely not a category you want to be associated with.

To top it off, 2019 was his worst season from a statistical standpoint, posting a .239 average in 155 games with just 18 home runs. He also struck out 168 times. Yikes. You’d hope that Myers would improve as he gets older, but last season was a total disaster. Sure, he hit 28 and 30 home runs in 2016 and 2017, respectively, but Myers hasn’t been near consistent enough with just 29 combined home runs over the last two seasons.

It’s safe to say who won this trade: the Washington Nationals. As a result, this is definitely the worst trade of the decade for the San Diego Padres.

Stay tuned to Baseball Essential over the next few weeks for more on the best and worst trades made by all 30 MLB clubs over the past 10 years.

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