Was Trading Pomeranz the Right Move For the Padres?

San Diego Acquires 18-year old Venezuelan Pitching Prospect

NBC 7’s Ben Rosehart discusses the Padres trade of All-Star Drew Pomeranz for 18-year-old Anderson Espinoza.

Just two days after Drew Pomeranz made his first All-Star appearance the Padres decided to sell high on the left-hander and trade him to the Boston Red Sox.

Pomeranz enjoyed a great stretch as a starter going 8-7 in the first half of the season but more importantly he racked up 115 strikeouts and boasted a 2.47 ERA. Boston clearly wants to go for it in David Ortiz's final season.

From the Padres perspective, you can view this one of two ways.

1) San Diego just traded away its second All-Star in a two week span.

If the Padres had kept Pomeranz and closer Fernando Rodney they would’ve had three representatives in Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic. The Padres are now further stocking their minor league cupboard. Again.

Is this franchise like the hamster that just keeps running on a wheel? 

Are the visiting fans going to outnumber the hometown fans at Petco Park for the rest of this year and the foreseeable future?

Well, it’s not like Pomeranz drew tons of fans to the ballpark on the night he pitched like Matt Harvey or SDSU product Stephen Strasburg.

San Diego entered the All-Star break in fourth place and 18.5 games behind the machine that is the San Francisco Giants franchise (especially in even years this decade). 

But my immediate reaction was that of disappointment. Pomeranz looked like a totally different pitcher then he had in previous stops in Oakland and Colorado. 

By adding a third pitch to his repertoire and complimenting his fastball with an improved curveball and a tricky cut fastball, he became the ace of the Padres pitching staff. 

There’s a good chance we see Pomeranz starting in Fenway Park in a crucial playoff game this October while Rodney closes out a victory in Miami as the Marlins nail down a wildcard spot. 

How much would it sting to hear Pomeranz say he figured it out in San Diego – even though he only pitched in America’s Finest City for a little over three months – and go on to be a solid starter for years to come in a different uniform.

2) The Padres just flipped two players who struggled mightily in 2015 into two potential starting pitchers that could be mainstays for years to come.

The key words here are potential and could be.

In essence, Padres general manager A.J. Preller decided to pick up two young hard-throwing starting pitchers when the trade value of Pomeranz and Rodney were pretty high. 

After acquiring Chris Paddack in the Rodney deal, Preller added another hurler he coveted in Anderson Espinoza. The right-hander can touch 99 miles per hour on the radar gun with his fastball and had some scouts drawing comparisons to Pedro Martinez.

He also has two complimentary pitches with a change-up and a curveball that are considered to be "plus" pitches.

In a conference call Thursday night, Preller said he viewed Espinoza as a “premium pitching prospect,” who can have an impactful career as a major league starter. 

"I mean he has a really easy delivery, really easy arm action and that's the thing that all our scouts had talked about was just how easy he does things," said Preller moments after the trade was official. "Big fastball anywhere from 92 to he heats it up to as high as 98-99 and he's just 17, 18 years old. He throws strikes. There's secondary pitches in there - a curveball, changeup mix.

"As we looked at and evaluated prospects and pitchers in the minor leagues," continued Preller, "he was pretty much at the top of our board over the last year or so."

The “Rock-Star" GM has a good reputation as an evaluator of international talent, so the fact that he and his staff researched and ultimately acquired an 18-year-old Venezuela native makes sense. 

If Preller is correct on this gamble and Espinoza winds up being a key piece to a Padres playoff run, then that reputation will once again be validated.

Espinoza owned a 4.38 ERA (37 ER, 76.0 IP) and notched 72 strikeouts against 27 walks in 17 starts for Single-A Greenville this season.  

The right-hander was signed by the Red Sox as an International free agent in July 2014, when he was ranked by Baseball America as the top International pitching prospect of that year’s free agent class. 

In theory, the Padres starting five in 2018 could include Espinoza, Paddack and Colin Rea - which on paper sounds like a pretty good (and affordable) foundation for a rotation.

Now the question is if these players will reach that potential. And I suppose, who will the Padres try to move next?

Just please don’t trade Wil Myers. It would be nice to keep one current All-Star in San Diego.

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