In the past, oh day or so, the San Diego Padres have completed the offseason’s biggest blockbuster trade, officially (more like finally) acquired Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers and traded a couple of young arms to the Oakland A’s for catcher Derek Norris.
Then Friday morning they completed another trade, one that had fans of teams all around the league were hoping that it was their team that was “in serious talks” with the Atlanta Braves about acquiring outfielder Justin Upton.
As teams kept getting knocked off the list, It wasn’t the A’s or the Texas Rangers or the Seattle Mariners or (enter your team name here) by the experts, the fans kept getting more anxious but they didn’t have to wait long.
Rule out #Mariners on Justin Upton, too.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 19, 2014
It was, both surprisingly and not surprisingly, the Padres who were in such serious talks with the Braves. Moments after all the heated Twitter speculation, it was confirmed that the Padres had traded for Upton.
Rumors had been swirling around Upton since the 2014 season ended and it appears the Braves got an offer that they finally liked.
Upton will be another threat in the Padres’ recently revamped lineup. He has a career batting average of .270 and has averaged 26 homers a year over his eight big league seasons.
The final details of the trade have not been announced, however, what is known is that to acquire an American League Rookie of the Year in Wil Myers, an MVP candidate in Matt Kemp, a two-time All-Star in Justin Upton and an All-Star catcher in Derek Norris, the Padres have not given up all that much.
Have they given up some top prospects? Absolutely. Just to name a few, the list includes Joe Ross (younger brother of Padres star starter Tyson Ross), 21, for Myers, and two young arms 24-year old Jesse Hahn and 23-year old R.J. Alvarez to the A’s for Norris.
Yet, the Padres have managed to hang onto a few coveted prospects and keep their starting pitching rotation intact. General manager A.J. Preller, who was hired away from the Texas Rangers and took over for fired GM Kevin Towers, has done an impressive job in improving his ball club.
As for what they got, the Padres have done well. Their outfield will likely look like this: Kemp and Upton at the corners with Myers in center.
The acquisition of catcher Derek Norris should add to their lineup but not necessarily to their defense at catcher as Norris threw out just 12 of 60 base runners in 2014.
The Kansas City Royals ran all over the A’s in the 2014 A.L. Wild Card playoff game after Norris replaced Geovanny Soto at catcher. He allowed seven stolen bases to the Royals in that one game.
Norris hit .294 with seven home runs and 38 RBI before being named an All-Star in 2014. However, he slumped in the second half batting just .240 with three homers and 17 RBI.
The Padres will want Norris in the lineup against lefties regardless of his defensive deficiencies. He hit .311 against left-handed pitchers last season.
Kemp is a legitimate slugger, who was MVP runner-up in 2011, having averaged 31 home runs a season over the past nine seasons. He hit .287/.346/.506 in 150 games with the Dodgers in 2014. With Upton as another legimate threat, the Padres’ suddenly revamped lineup looks quite good.
Myers’ talent has been seen but not since 2013. He could be a gamble having been on the disabled list for most of the 2014 season but that seems more unlikely than likely. He was on the DL due to a broken wrist and while a wrist injury can affect a player’s swing, his was given significant time to heal.
He appeared in just 87 games in 2014 and hit just .222. He did however, go yard six times in that span.
Myers hit .293 with 13 home runs in just 88 games with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013 before being named Rookie of the Year. The potential is there.
With the upgrades the Padres have made they are obviously looking to compete and, if their new acquisitions perform as expected, they will be able to compete with the current World Champion San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the N.L. West.