The San Diego Padres sure aren’t acting like a team without a General Manager. And, frankly, I’d be a little leery to sign on to run a team that’s already got guys in-house – my future bosses, perhaps – that are comfortable making extension deals in July before, like, hiring me.
In any case, the Padres today announced that they’ve extended outfielder Seth Smith on a two-year, $13 million deal with a club option for 2017. It’s a fairly reasonable sum for the 31-year-old in the middle of a career year, so I don’t fault the Padres there. But I do find it very strange that a team so obviously in need of continuing its rebuild for another year or two is locking up one of the best trade pieces on the market. With so many teams in need of a bat, and with Smith putting up a .281/.384/.506 line (the .389 wOBA tops his career mark by nearly 40 points) for just $4.5 million, you’d think the Padres would be itching to cash in on his value as a rental. Not to do that thing that people always do, but, if he loved San Diego so much, maybe he could come back after the season.
As it is, the potential market impact here is fairly significant. As I said, there are very few available bats in trade, and Smith was expected to be one of the most prominent. With Smith off of the market, teams looking for a bat will have to look elsewhere, and may even have to shift attentions to other areas of their team for an upgrade. That could slightly help the Cubs’ pitching trade market, and it could also slightly help the market for Nate Schierholtz. It’s a down year, clearly, for Schierholtz, and, unlike Smith, teams aren’t likely to look at Schierholtz as a starting upgrade. Instead, he’s more of a nice 4th outfielder. Perhaps, with Smith off of the market, a team or two will fall into the “beggars can’t be choosers” mode, and talk to the Cubs.
The deal is also notable as it takes one of the few quality impending free agent outfielders off of the market. The Cubs figure to want to add a bat in the outfield before next season, but it’s not going to be Smith.