Earlier in the week, rumors spread that the Padres were trying to use top prospect(s) to trade away a big contract and keep their distance from the luxury tax threshold. And according to the latest report out of San Diego (Kevin Acee), that wasn’t just a rumor.
They really tried to make it happen, and for Joey Gallo, no less:
The Padres spent part of the week trying to work a deal that would have sent first baseman Eric Hosmer and prospect Robert Hassell III to the Texas Rangers for Joey Gallo. Instead, Gallo went to the New York Yankees.
Gallo has since been traded to the Yankees, but there are still many really important threads on which to pull here.
First, the Padres clearly have an interest in adding a position player like Gallo (say, someone with a big bat who can play all over the outfield). As we’ve discussed, Kris Bryant isn’t a perfect Gallo comp for a number of reasons both on and off the field (handedness, remaining team control, overall positional versatility, etc.), but he could fulfill a similar role in San Diego.
Second, the “top prospect,” the Padres are dangling is a legitimate one. Robert Hassell III was a top-10 overall pick last year and is currently a top-100 prospect. The 19-year-old outfielder is slashing .310/.404/.456 (131 wRC+) in his first full professional season and has been climbing the updated prospect rankings this summer (currently a low-risk, 50-future value prospect, 4th in the Padres system and 76th overall in the updated FanGraphs Top-100 rankings).
Third, Hassell was a rumored 2020 Cubs draft target. Just saying.
And fourth, if the Padres really are close to acquiring Max Scherzer, they might have some extra incentive to get a player like Bryant *and* shed some money to stay under the threshold. I’m not sure if San Diego would be as willing to make this deal for a rental like Bryant as they were a 1.5 year player like Gallo, but it’s at least a conceivable avenue for them. And if the Cubs are willing to eat/kick in money to grease the wheels, they could end up with a legit top-100 prospect in whom they were recently interested and even get a theoretical replacement for Anthony Rizzo, if he winds up moving on at the deadline or after the season (there’s also always the universal DH, which is widely expected to arrive next season).
Just something to keep an eye on.