You would almost never see this kind of rumor in late April, but a couple things are conspiring to make it something that is very real, and very timely: 1.) The Padres are overloaded with quality pitching and a need to open up some payroll space/add positional guys, and 2.) Rosters are shrinking from 28 to 26 on Monday, so the desire to coordinate moves – including possibly significant trades – at that time is much higher than it would normally be in April.
So, when I see this, I’m paying LOTS of attention:
The Padres have been discussing Dinelson Lamet with other teams, per sources. Lamet, who is pitching out of the bullpen, is making $4.775 million in his second-to-last arb year. San Diego would like to create some flexibility for potential reinforcements on offense.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) April 30, 2022
A report like that doesn’t drop from Dennis Lin, by the way, unless there are serious talks going on.
OK, but why am I, a Cubs fan, paying close attention? So many reasons:
⇒ With one year of control remaining after this season, Lamet can still be considered a medium-term piece, which might appeal to the Cubs regardless of his impact in 2022.
⇒ The Cubs do need starting-caliber pitching this year, and have plenty of opportunities available to give starts to a guy like Lamet.
⇒ The Cubs, several years ago, were very interested in Lamet (who subsequently broke out, and then got hurt).
⇒ Given the injury history and the mixed/poor performance since last year, the price tag in trade on Lamet is probably not going to be huge. Heck, not every team out there would want to take on the $4 million right now.
⇒ The Cubs might have a positional guy or two at the margins of their roster (they have a crunch coming, too) that could interest the Padres.
⇒ Given the risk that he might not do much for you this year while you try to get him back (healthily) into a starting role, teams that are REALLY going for it this year might be less enthused than a team like the Cubs.
⇒ The Cubs and Padres have obviously had lots and lots of recent trade talks, so there’s a comfort and familiarity there on how there might be a fit.
Things to keep in mind here before you get TOO excited: this would be a huge roll of the dice, which is why the Padres are even trying to make it happen. Lamet’s breakout was significant – anyone else remember how studly he was in some of his outings? – but incredibly brief, basically lasting only for the second half of 2019 and the pandemic season:
Also, notice that velocity column? Yeah, it took a major hit in 2021 – in conjunction with the performance falling off – so that has to be considered here when projecting out what he could or could not be in the future.
So this is a reclamation opportunity. The Padres might not want to characterize it that way, but it is. Expectations – for any team that snags Lamet – should be kept in check. But the arm talent is very real, and I would *love* to see the Cubs be the team to take the chance to bring him along, especially if there is a chance he could be really impactful in 2023.