Padres Trade Closer in 5-Player Deal

Craig Kimbrel sent to the Red Sox for a prospect package

The “Rock Star GM” is at it again.

If anyone was wondering if Padres General Manager A.J. Preller would be timid after last year’s whirlwind of activity failed on the field, the answer is an emphatic NO.

On Friday Preller pulled off a trade with the Red Sox, sending All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel to Boston for a package of four prospects: Logan Allen, Carlos Asuaje, Javier Guerra and Manuel Margot (more on them in a second).

The 27-year-old Kimbrel spent just one season in San Diego, going 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA and 39 saves in 43 chances. Kimbrel came over from the Braves (along with OF Melvin Upton Jr.) just before Opening Day of the 2015 season. In that deal the Padres gave up a pair of prospects and a draft pick, but the return for Kimbrel now might be better than what they surrendered to get him.

“If he came here and performed like he’s really always performed,” said Preller, “if we got to a point in the next few years that we wanted to turn the asset around we were going to be able to recoup a lot of value and put the organization in a better spot.”

So, let’s get to know the new guys with a little scouting report sprinkled in:

Logan Allen, LHP

18-year-old lefty out of IMG Academy, selected in the eighth, 231st overall in the 2015 Draft.  LHP fastball sits in low-90’s. Velocity has greatly improved over last year. Throws a change up and two different breaking balls.

Carlos Asuaje, IF

24-year-old from Venezuela, bats left throws right. Undersized, small, athletic frame. Short, compact swing. Excellent bat control with a knack for making contact. Makes pitchers work. Below-average power potential; plays best at second base, fringe-average arm strength. Soft hands, great instincts, has versatility and is being developed as a true utility player. Lacks standout tools but profiles as a bench utility player. Strong instincts (basically sounds a lot like David Eckstein)

Javier Guerra, IF

20-year-old from Panama. Slightly undersized (5’11”) but athletic, quick twitch athlete. Short, compact, line drive swing. Good bat control. Propensity for swing and miss, more gap power with plenty of doubles. Plus arm strength, quick release, able to make any throw from SS. Below-average run speed. Won’t be an impact bat but will more than make up for it with plus-to-elite defensive profile (perhaps an Andrelton Simmons-style player).

Manuel Margot, OF

21-year-old from Dominican Republic. Ranked as the 25th-best prospect in all of professional baseball by Medium frame with fast-twitch muscle and above-average athleticism. Fluid swing, quick hands, smooth load with little wasted movement. Plus bat speed, natural bat-to-ball skills. Presently a line-drive hitter with surprising polish to approach. Shows willingness to see pitches but likes to attack early in the count. Surprising power for size, average arm strength, quick release, plenty of arm strength for center field. Reads ball off bat well in center, shows understanding of how to take precise routes. Plus-plus speed, gets out of box quickly. Needs to improve reads when stealing bases. Potential for 30-plus bases at big leagues. Had a streak of 62 at-bats without a strike out to start 2015 season.

None of these four players have advanced beyond Double-A yet. The question now is what happens to the Padres bullpen in 2016?

The setup man (Joaquin Benoit) and the closer were dealt in back-to-back days, so there’s a big opening on the back end in San Diego. Preller said there will be a process of finding the man who can carry of the Padres tradition of dominant closers, mentioning Brandon Maurer, Kevin Quackenbush and Marcos Mateo as possibilities by name.

A.J. also said the extra financial flexibility (trading Benoit and Kimbrel freed up nearly $19 million in salary for 2016) gives the Padres the option of going out of the open market to find a free agent closer, or possibly strengthen the franchise’s infrastructure.

“Whether it’s programs, scouting front, amateur market, international market, I think we’re going to look at all those avenues as ways to be a championship team,” said Preller. “I think this gives us some flexibility financially to move some money around and really invest in certain areas and I’m definitely looking forward to going about that.”

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