Yesterday was a wild one, with the Padres and Mets clearly getting very close on a trade that would have sent Eric Hosmer, Chris Paddack, Emilio Pagan, and cash to the Mets in exchange for Dom Smith – the specifics being reported were SO specific – but, per reports, the Mets ultimately decided to pass. Paying $30-ish million plus Smith for Paddack and Pagan was too bonkers for even Steve Cohen. Must’ve been a blow to the Padres, because apparently they entered the weekend thinking the deal was going to get done.
Based on the way things shook out throughout the day, I feel pretty comfortable concluding that the deal as presented – which would’ve been a complete head-scratcher for the Mets – was not going to be acceptable unless a third team could get involved. We don’t know if that hypothetical third team was the Cubs or not – they did get frequent mentions/speculations from reporters – but we know a deal did not happen, and it would’ve been so complicated to get a team like the Cubs involved (when all they really want is a prospect in exchange for taking on part of Hosmer’s contract).
So, the deal died at the one-yard line. Notably now, the Padres are still without an additional outfield bat (and the Mets are still without an additional arm).
Will talks with the Cubs now pick up since the Mets are out? Impossible to say for sure – Jon Heyman reported that the Cubs were still involved as of early yesterday – but the hour has grown quite late. I guess you could whip up an idea where the Cubs sent a replacement lefty-hitting outfield bat to the Padres (Rafael Ortega?), who send back Hosmer, about half of his remaining contract dollars, and a top prospect. Would the Cubs value that top prospect (plus the loss of Ortega) at $30 million? (I could certainly make that argument!)
Also, do the Padres need a bat like Ortega’s bad enough to do this deal *now*? Remember, the reason they were pushing so hard to move Hosmer or Wil Myers this offseason was so that they could make some other big signing and stay under the luxury tax. Without all those moves used up (they have never been reported to be in on Michael Conforto), I don’t know that the Padres will feel they HAVE to move Hosmer right now, as opposed to, for example, the Trade Deadline. They probably will want to move him by the Trade Deadline, though – after this season, he gets full no-trade rights (as opposed to his current partial no-trade clause, which reportedly does not include the Cubs).
In the post-no-trade write-up at The Athletic, Dennis Lin shares this note from the LAST time Hosmer was not traded (which likely would’ve been at the deadline to the Cubs (together with outfield prospect Robert Hassell):
Near the end of last season, one person inside the Padres clubhouse made an observation: Given what happened at the trade deadline, it was imperative to move Hosmer before the next season. There would never be the same level of trust between the locker room’s most influential personality and the decision-makers in the front office. “They should have ripped the band-aid off,” this person said. A fresh start, for everyone, felt necessary after a disastrous second half.
Now, with Opening Day looming, the Padres could be headed for more of the same.
The bell is even harder to un-ring now. So maybe the Padres *DO* need to do this deal right now. Maybe the Cubs’ leverage will never be higher …
Either way, must be fun to be Hosmer today, by the way, knowing just how desperately your team wants to be rid of you.
Circling back to a more general point: is it too late for meaningful trades to take place, though? Well, in a normal offseason, trades in the final week of Spring Training are EXCEEDINGLY rare, though they have happened (Padres GM A.J. Preller famously made an enormous Opening Day trade for Craig Kimbrel some years ago). This is not a normal offseason, of course, and there are still some guys out there that we very much expected to be traded before the season begins:
If a team is close to a deal for Manaea right now, it's not the Mets.
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) April 3, 2022
Will we see a last-minute push now for some deals to get done? Like Manaea? And/or will we see more edge-of-the-roster moves than usual, since teams didn’t have nearly as much time to sort out the margins of their rosters in Spring Training?
I could see a world where Manaea winds up traded in the next few days, and there are a bunch of other edge moves made so they can be in place for Opening Day rosters to be set. Maybe completed by Tuesday night or so? I’m just thinking out loud, since you’d then need guys to travel on Wednesday to be there to play on Thursday for Opening Day.
On the whole, I’m not bracing myself for a flurry of moves or a resumption of the Hosmer-Cubs rumors. Maybe we do see Manaea traded soon, and some of those edge deals (I do wonder about Ortega more generally, given the Cubs’ apparent commitment to Jason Heyward in center field against righties, which is Ortega’s primary value).
UPDATE: Just as I published … what the heck … the Padres are acquiring Manaea? That would put the Padres over the luxury tax, depending on what the return is. But, also, why are the PADRES trading for another arm? This is kinda nuts, especially given everything I just wrote. Stay tuned.