[Having recently looked at Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein’s history as a buyer in July, it is also worth a look at Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer’s buyer history.]
The San Diego Padres have not reached the postseason since 2007 when they won the National League West with 88 wins and has only two winning seasons in the last nine years.
Jed Hoyer was the general manager in the Padres’ most recent winning season, which came in 2010. It was Hoyer’s first season as GM when the Padres went 90-72 and finished two games behind division-winning San Francisco Giants and one game behind the Wild Card-winning Atlanta Braves.
San Diego was 51-37 at the All-Star Break with a two-game lead on the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers and a four-game advantage over the fourth-place Giants.
In a position to buy, Hoyer found himself looking to round out what had the potential to be a playoff roster in July. And this is what he did.
July 29, 2010
San Diego traded right-handed pitcher Wynn Pelzer to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for shortstop Miguel Tejada and cash considerations.
Hoyer had this to say about the trade when it happened:
“I think [Tejada] still has a lot to bring. He’s still a tough out. We’re hoping that getting him in a pennant race and getting him on a winning team can energize him.”
“Part of our strength this year is having a good 25-man roster, not just having a good starting lineup. I think he’ll play a lot, but it will be in different spots. It makes us better.”
Tejada was brought over in part to provide an upgrade from Opening Day shortstop Everth Cabrera, then 23, who was slashing .199/.271/.275/.546 and 0.1 WAR. And did to an extent.
It turned out to be a last hurrah of sorts for the 36-year-old Tejada as he posted a .268/.317/.413/.730 slash line and 104 OPS+ and 1.2 WAR in 253 plate appearances over the course of 59 games.
Peltzer never made it to The Show and was last toiling for Camden in the Independent League in 2014. You can see his minor league history here.
July 31, 2010
The Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians got together on a unique three-way deal.
San Diego acquired left fielder Ryan Ludwick from the Cardinals, who received Jake Westbrook from the Indians and left-handed prospect pitcher Nick Greenwood from the Padres. Cleveland also received Padres right-handed pitching prospect Corey Kluber.
At the time of the deal, Hoyer said: “We were looking for a corner outfielder who could hit right-handed pitching. That was our goal this entire time. We looked at a number of guys on the market, Ludwick made a ton of sense. … It was really a logical three-way deal, but it was tough to put together.”
After getting the better of the Tejada deal, San Diego did not get what it expected out of Ludwick down the stretch. Ludwick posted a .211/.301/.330/.631 slash line and 78 OPS+ in 239 plate appearances in 59 games with the Padres. Prior to that, Ludwick slashed .281/.343/.484/.827 with a 123 OPS+ in 77 games (314 PA).
Ludwick was only two years removed from an All-Star showing in 2008 in which he hit 37 homers, drove in 113 RBI and slashed .299/.375/.591/.966 with a career-best OPS+ of 151. But didn’t recapture that magic with the Padres — or anywhere else after that.
Greenwood has pitched 36 innings in the big leagues for the Cardinals since 2014.
Kluber was the big fish who got away, but didn’t really take off until he got into the Indians farm system.
Further, he did not take major strides at the big league level until his age 27 season in 2013. Kluber won the American League Cy Young in 2014, going 18-9 with 269 strikeouts, a 2.44 ERA and MLB best 2.35 FIP. This season he is 5-10, but has a 3.38 ERA, 2.47 FIP and the second lowest run support (2.65) in all of baseball.
Here was what Hoyer had to say about the Ludwick deal, citing the inherent difficulties as they were dealing with another NL contender (the Cardinals) and didn’t feel comfortable giving up any of its major league pitching:
The most interesting nugget comes around the 1:45 mark:
“We’re a team with a developing farm system and didn’t want to take a lot away from the system. But we felt we’re in the race right now, we’re in first place and this was a year we needed to be aggressive. I was happy we were able to add two players like Tejada and Ludwick and we didn’t have to injure the farm system. That was the goal and I feel that we accomplished it.”
Sounds familiar to an extent, doesn’t it?
The Cubs are a young team, and while not in first place, in some sort of postseason contention. They are also an organization with a developing farm system that might be hesitant to “injure” the farm system in its first season of contention.
With that lesson under his belt and Epstein’s experience in dealing in Boston, the Cubs have several unique experiences to draw from as they approach July 31.