If players available at the trade deadline were like stocks, then Carlos Quentin would be a tech-stock in the late 90's. He would be everything Facebook thought it would be about two weeks ago.
After missing the first two months of the season, Quentin finally got off the shelf and into the batter's box, although it appears his agent told him he was traded to Coors Field, not Petco Park.
Quentin, acquired by the Padres this off-season for the market-friendly price of just pitching prospect Simon Castro, has gone off since getting healthy, hitting a ridiculous .481/.533/1.185 in his seven games, with five home runs, already good for second on the power-starved team. With the Padres out of contention, Quentin's hot start has made him the most popular player among speculators for teams looking to add a power bat.
And the Padres have to be salivating because, in a season with extra playoff spots and parity throughout the league, they are shaping up to have the best item in a small seller's market.
Quentin is set to be a free agent at the end of the year, so the return for him won't be anywhere near what the team got for Adrian Gonzalez (who is also a much better player than Quentin), but last year's Zack Wheeler-for-Carlos Beltran heist by the Mets may have helped set a standard that favors the Padres.
But here at MLB Prospect Watch, we handle things from the prospect-side of things, so it's up to us to take a look at what prospects Padres fans could realistically see in their future.
The first step is figuring out where there is a fit with Quentin. Despite the number of teams that will be in contention, there are many that simply don't have a spot for a player like Quentin, or have bigger problems to solve.
The Yankees are okay in left field and have bigger issues. The Rays will solve their left field woes when Desmond Jennings comes back. The Red Sox could end up being sellers. It would be shocking to see him traded back to the White Sox where he came from and the Indians signed Johnny Damon for left field. Texas has plenty of offense while the Angels have plenty of outfielders. The rest of the AL (except the teams below) likely won't be buying.
In the NL, the situations are equally as backed up. The Nationals are getting Mike Morse and Jayson Werth back, and when they do will have a crowded outfield. The Braves lineup is set and the Mets aren't going to take on payroll or mortgage their future. The Phillies likely won't be buyers, and won't have room for Quentin anyway when Ryan Howard and Chase Utley return, pushing other players to left field. The Cardinals have Matt Holliday, the Brewers have Ryan Braun, and the rest of the NL Central will be selling. I'd be surprised to see the Padres trade with an NL West team, but the Dodgers appear to be ok with the rejuvinated Bobby Abreu and left field is the one place the Giants are getting offense from Melky Cabrera, and aren't likely looking to get fleeced again this year.
That leaves five possible landing spots:
- The Baltimore Orioles have managed to hang on to first place after a scorching hot start and could use a power bat in left field, where Endy Chavez is seeing the majority of the playing time, but they could be more interested in finding a starting pitcher. They are a possibility, however.
- The Blue Jays aren't getting much production out of left field, and a 3-4-5 of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Quention would be formidable, but extremely right-handed and strikeout prone. Quintin isn't a great fit, but does fill a need.
- The Marlins could be in the market for a left fielder now that Logan Morrison has slid into first base, but they seem more likely to give Gaby Sanchez another shot.
- The Reds situation depends on the health of Scott Rolen. If he comes back and can actually play, then the obvious choice for their left field issues is to slide Todd Frazier out there. He has given them a nice boost of power and can play anywhere. If Rolen doesn't come back, then Quentin could be in play, and the Padres can continue their raid of the Reds farm system.
- The Pirates may be the team most in need of Quentin, as their Alex Pressley/Jose Tabata/Yamaico Navarro/Gorkys Hernandez pile of crap in the outfield has been about as bad as their pitching has been good.
Even though they are possibilities, I'm going to rule out the Blue Jays and Marlins. The Jays are above .500 and are in the running, but still sit fourth in their own division. They will probably add a bat, but Quentin, a right-handed slugger who strikes out a lot, just isn't a good fit in between their two right-handed, strikeout prone sluggers. There are better options out there for the Jays.
The Marlins are also likely to make a move, I just don't think it will be Quentin. Gaby Sanchez will be back in the majors this season, leaving Logan Morrison and Austin Kearns in a workable platoon in left field. It's not great, but I don't think the Marlins are looking to take on a ton more salary after the off-season they just had, and if they do, it should be to address their bullpen woes.
The Orioles are a good fit, if they remain in the race, which for the sake of this article, we're going to assume they do. The issue for the O's is what they have to give up. Obviously Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are off the table, so don't even get your hopes up, Padres fans. It would also be shocking to see them give up a player like Jonathan Schoop for a two month rental, despite his struggles in Double-A this season (he was promoted too soon and should have started back in the Carolina League, but that's an article for another day). After that, the Orioles system takes a huge step down.
Outfielder Xavier Avery saw some time in the majors earlier this season and has the athleticism needed to play in Petco Park that the Padres covet in outfielders. He could handle center field even in that park, but would play left in difference to Cameron Maybin, and won't hit for enough power to justify the move. He might interest the Padres, but he's not enough for Quentin. Parker Bridwell is the most talented pitcher the O's might be willing to part with, but despite his raw stuff, he's been terrible as a professional. The Padres could be enticed by his abilities, but there's also the chance they could end up getting nothing out of him.
Despite the Orioles need, they just don't seem to be a good fit with the Padres desires.
The Reds might be hesitant to send more of their farm system to San Diego after trading them three prospects last off-season, for fear that the Padres this time might ask for their scouting director, all of their fungoes, and the team charter bus. For the Padres, any talks with the Reds this time have to begin with Billy Hamilton, whose speed could turn those triples-in-the-gap into routine inside-the-park home runs. But one can only assume, considering the other top prospects that were traded, that the Padres asked about Hamilton last winter and were rejected. Plus, he'd be way too much to give up for two months of Quentin.
What the Reds do have, however, is a stable of interesting arms that the Padres could covet. Daniel Corcino is having success in Double-A as a 21-year-old and as a flyball pitcher, could have success in San Diego. Shooting up the Reds prospect ranks this season is Tony Cingrani, who the Reds might be reluctant to give up given his emergence this season, but would be the first person I'd ask about after Hamilton, if I was the Padres.
Cingrani, a power reliever in college, has been starting since being drafted by the Reds in 2011, and dominated the California League this season before a recent promotion to Double-A. A 6'5" lefty, he throws in the mid-90's with ease and complements it with a nice changeup. There's no reason to think that he can't start, but at worst, he profiles as a power-lefty reliever, in the Sean Marshall/Sean Burnett-mold. He pitched four years in college, so he could move quickly, especially if he relieves, and he's almost enough return for two months of Quentin by himself. If the Reds find themselves in need of Quentin's services, look for Cingrani to get a lot of discussion.
The Reds, however, still don't know what they are going to need to do to fill their holes, so they won't be making a move for a little while. The Pirates, on the other hand, could make a move soon in order to keep their hot streak going.
The Pirates are getting historically good starting pitching, and historically bad offensive production. If the Pirates were to act now, they could get 3-4 months of Quentin's services. They would also be the team making the greatest improvement from what they currently have to Quentin.
For the Pirates, Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are immediately off the table. As too are outfield prospects Josh Bell and the player the Padres would probably inquire about first, Starling Marte. The Pirates are simply not going to mortgage their long-term future when they likely feel like they are a year ahead of schedule, Marte is a major part of their future.
But unlike the O's, who were barren after you remove the top prospects, the Pirates are relatively deep and have some intriging prospects to interest the Padres. A player worth being interested in is outfielder Robbie Grossman, who had a great 2011 season, walking over 100 times in a breakout campaign. He'sstruggling a bit this season, hitting .217/.315/.345 in his first taste of Double-A this season, but walk rate remains strong. He's a bit of a tweener as an outfielder, but would be an above-average right fielder, and could still develop more power. I'm more bullish on Grossman than many, but he would be a nice pickup for the Padres.
The Padres could also have interest in Gorkys Hernandez, who is no stranger to being traded, and has the athleticism the Padres love. He's a true center fielder, but he may never hit. The Padres interest in Hernandez will depend on their opinion of his hit tool.
The other intriguing prospect that could interest the Padres is right-handed pitcher Kyle McPherson, who has had a strong minor league career since being drafted in 2007. The 24-year-old is a fly ball pitcher who profiles as a mid-rotation starter, but would be perfect for Petco Park. The biggest obsticle for McPherson is a shoulder injury that has kept him off the field so far this season. If the Padres doctors check him out, however, he still could be a nice return for San Diego.
For the Pirates, it would likey take some combination of lesser prospects to land Quentin, as they will likely not part with any of their top prospects. The Padres, on the other hand, can not expect to get a Zack Wheeler-type prospect in return for Quentin the way the Mets did for Beltran last season, as that was not only a lopsided trade, but one made out of desparation by the Giants.
Unless the landscape changes this season, it doesn't appear that a team with that type of pressure to win will be desperate enough to make a run at Quentin, even if he continues to hit. The Padres best-case scenario is likely to get a few usable pieces, likely players close to the majors, in return that can be accent pieces for the nucleus - Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Cameron Maybin, Edinson Volquez, and Andrew Cashner - that they've put together over the past year or so.
It is unlikely that Carlos Quentin, despite being the best bat on the market, is going to return a major piece to the Padres future to San Diego.