Red Sox Need to Capitalize on Padres’ Hot Startby Jordan Leandre August 21, 2020 1 comment
In February, the Boston Red Sox made a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles. Though Price opted out, Betts and his MVP-caliber start to 2020 are propelling the Dodgers to a 19-8 start. However, six months later, another team in the National League West is looking to become a World Series contender.
That team is the red-hot, fun-loving, 15-12 San Diego Padres. A team that many viewed as an underdog, San Diego has become one of the game’s most exciting teams in the span of a workweek. Should they buy-in on their impressive 27-game start to the season? If they decide yes, then Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox need to capitalize as one of baseball’s few true sellers at this Trade Deadline.
But what exactly could a veteran, underachieving team like the Red Sox have that the Padres could be interested in?
1. Brandon Workman – RHP
With All-Star closer Kirby Yates requiring surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow, the Padres need to replace a gaping hole in their bullpen. While Workman isn’t quite the same caliber pitcher as Yates, he certainly has pieced together a nice year-plus for the Red Sox.
In seven appearances this year, Workman has a fairly pedestrian 4.05 ERA, but his FIP is 2.54, and he’s still striking out roughly 26 percent of batters faced this season. His walk rate has improved 2.8 percent, but his batting average on balls in play is a staggering .421.
His struggles could stem from lack of consistent usage, as he’s endured three stretches of five-plus days without getting into a game. With that in mind, A.J. Preller should focus more on his 2019 numbers, where the curveball-heavy right-hander posted a 1.88 ERA, a 2.46 FIP, and a strikeout rate of 36.4 percent in 71.2 innings pitched.
Workman, along with newly-renowned bullpen Ace Drew Pomeranz, could become a very matchup-laden, yet lethal force at the back-end of that Padres bullpen––which entered play on Thursday with the fourth-worst bullpen FIP in baseball (5.46).
2. Kevin Pillar – OF
Kevin Pillar is a bit of a curveball, as Padres brass emphasized “high on-base guys” last offseason. However, they also have Jurickson Profar (.301 OBP) in their everyday lineup. Pillar, on the other hand, fills a needed void in a Padres outfield that’s lost Tommy Pham for a month-plus with a broken hamate bone. Not only is Pillar a superior defender to Pham, but is also boasting a career-high 7.7 percent walk rate in 2020––coupled with a career-high .341 OBP.
A cheap rental for the remainder of the season, Pillar could be a vital fixture in a Padres outfield that is middle of the pack in wRC+ (102) and on-base percentage (.325).
3. J.D. Martinez – OF/DH
Martinez is a bit of a wild card, with a plethora of questions surrounding his pending opt-out. His 2020 season also doesn’t look too impressive, as his 89 wRC+ is his worst since 2013 with the Houston Astros––before he was the J.D. Martinez we know now. However, we learned in San Diego’s run-in with the Dodgers that they didn’t have the offense to hang around Games 2 and 3 of that three-game set. While they entered play on Thursday with the eighth-best team wRC+ in baseball (110), they understand that there’s still a gap between them and the Dodgers.
Adding J.D. Martinez to protect Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. could be the difference between sneaking into the playoffs and barreling into them. And if/when he figures out his struggles, that Big 3 could do serious damage.
4. Andrew Benintendi – OF
The jury is still out on when Andrew Benintendi will return to action, but he could still be an attractive piece at the deadline. With two more seasons of team control, and one year of arbitration less to worry about, San Diego should pounce now. Benintendi wasn’t off to a good start by any means––slashing just .103/.314/.128 with 44 wRC+––but he was walking at a 21.2 percent clip at the time of his injury.
He’s still a work in progress defensively, but he’s going to find himself on base at a roughly 35 percent clip. Mix in the value of only $5 million for 2021, one more year of arbitration in 2022, and San Diego has a nice young piece to add to that core.
5. Matt Barnes – RHP
Despite what Red Sox fans tend to say, Matt Barnes is a very good reliever. His 5.59 ERA, 6.45 FIP, and 18.6 percent walk rate isn’t exactly awe-inspiring, but that’s largely inflated due to a couple of shaky outings in the Bronx. Since his hanging breaking ball to Aaron Judge got hit a country mile, Barnes has settled into a little groove. In his last five outings, he’s posting a 3.18 ERA, a 2.97 FIP, and a strikeout rate of 36.4 percent––much closer to where he’s been the past three years.
Barnes, like Workman, would leave behind a big hole in the Red Sox bullpen. However, neither of them will likely see the other side of this rebuild in Boston––making both of them prime candidates to shore up A.J. Preller’s struggling San Diego bullpen.
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