The San Diego Padres have been one of the busiest teams in Major League Baseball this offseason, making trade after trade. The three biggest trades so far have come in exchange for outfielders Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wil Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays, and Justin Upton from the Atlanta Braves, transforming the Padres often lifeless offense into a powerful one. But the Padres are not done, and the next thing could be a trade for an ace pitcher and Phillies ace Cole Hamels could be a good fit.
Who would the Padres trade for Hamels?
The trade could start around outfielder Wil Myers, recently acquired from Tampa Bay. It might seem odd that the Padres would trade a newly acquired piece like Myers, but the Padres have a two-fold problem now. First, the Padres have three corner outfielders (though the Padres seem to say that Myers could be the one to play center field) and second, the lineup has few left-handed hitters. It's enough for Bill Baer of NBC's Hardball Talk to write, "Who knows how many of the runs they gain on offense from the trio will be siphoned by poor defense in that spacious park of theirs."
Further, the Padres also currently have additional outfielders in Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Carlos Quentin, and Seth Smith. At least two outfielders need to go to have a manageable number of five. The Phillies could agree to take Quentin and his $8 million salary off of the Phillies' hands as part of the deal. Quentin could patrol one corner outfield spot if Marlon Byrd is moved, and the Phillies could hope he performs well to trade him at the trade deadline.
The second piece that the Phillies would need is catching prospect Austin Hedges. Hedges is the Padres' top prospect, and considered by MLB.com as the top catching prospect in the majors, and 22nd overall among prospects. MLB.com offers this scouting report:
Hedges is the complete package behind the plate, with quiet hands, good footwork and a strong arm. Though he's struggled offensively against more advanced pitchers in the Texas League, he is not an all-glove, no-bat player. Hedges' balanced swing produces line drives to all fields, and he has good raw power. Like most catchers, he is a below-average runner.
At 22 years old and coming out of the AA Texas League, Hedges will be close to the major leagues. Recently acquired Derek Norris is just 25 years old, making Hedges expendable.
After that, the Phillies could send the Padres Ben Revere if they need a left-handed bat in the outfield or a true center fielder. The other pieces are secondary at that point; Myers and Hedges would be the two big pieces.
Hamels is a San Diego native whose mother worked for the Padres in the 1970s. Could Hamels end up in San Diego? "It wouldn't surprise me", said Padres broadcaster Mark Grant on on MLB Network Radio's Hot Stove with Brad Lidge and Jim Memolo. The Padres are going for it at what Grant says is "unprecedented" levels, and partnered with Andrew Cashner at the top of the Padres' rotation, the Padres could be contenders in 2015.