Peter Gammons doesn’t always provide a lot of context for his reports these days, but you can’t deny that he’s got his sources. And I guess one of them was spilling beans on the San Diego Padres’ desire to pick up a starting pitcher. Specifically, Matt Garza.
Gammons reports that, according to a GM source, there is something going on between the Padres and Cubs involving Garza, Padres’ outfield prospect Reymond Fuentes, and two other unnamed prospects. Gammons doesn’t go any further than that, and you have to do a little dot-connecting to even get that far. Are these preliminary talks? Another GM speculating? Is this something that’s actually on the table? Are those other two prospects any good?
I suspect that, if there are specific prospect names being floated, the talks are a shade beyond preliminary. That said, it’s still June. As we know, during trade season, front office executives talk to dozens of other front office executives about hundreds of possible trades. The vast majority fizzle before they even become a realistic possibility. Just be careful about getting too caught up in every single rumor.
This one, however, does have some superficial appeal. The Padres are in the market for a starting pitcher, according to a recent Jon Heyman report. And, given their budgetary constraints, they’d likely be looking to pick up an inexpensive option or one that comes from a team that can send cash (like the Cubs). A good chunk of the Cubs’ front office came over from the Padres (GM Jed Hoyer, VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod, and Scouting Director Jaron Madison), so they certainly know the system well, and probably have pet favorites they’d like to import.
As for Fuentes, specifically, he’s a former Red Sox first round pick who was – you guessed it – traded to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal (with Anthony Rizzo). An outfielder, Fuentes mostly played center field until this year, when he’s been shifted primarily to right field. In right field, his bat doesn’t play nearly as well, because he’s a speedy guy without a lot of pop. He’s repeating AA this year as a 22-year-old and killing it there (.332/.419/.472), but really struggled in his first go around at the level (.218/.301/.302 with 133 Ks in 541 PAs – ouch). Because of that down 2012 season, he’d fallen off of most folks top 10/top 20 Padres prospect lists coming into this season. That makes him a nice buy low candidate (if, for example, the Cubs front office knows something about that 2012 season or adjustments he’s made this year), but it doesn’t make him a particularly attractive centerpiece in a Garza deal – especially in late June when the market hasn’t fully developed yet.
If the Cubs dealt Garza (and cash) to the Padres for Fuentes and two prospects, well, I couldn’t really call that a win or a loss until I knew the identities of the other two prospects. Did Gammons list Fuentes because he was the biggest name in the deal? Or is that the only name he was told/only name he recognized immediately, and the other prospects are arguably better? If it’s the former, well, it’s hard to see the deal making sense for the Cubs. Which is to say I’m guessing the explanation hews more closely to that second possibility.
Fuentes, for his part, looks like a quality outfield prospect. And, despite the Cubs’ outfield talent lower in the system, they could probably use a young outfielder who is theoretically ready to step in as a starter in 2014. It remains to be seen whether Fuentes even is that kind of guy, but I imagine that would be the thinking.
We’ll see if more smoke comes out of this Garza/Padres stuff, or if Gammons was merely reporting one of many preliminary Garza-related rumors that are probably swirling right now.