July 13, 2023
One of the more interesting teams in baseball as the trade deadline approaches is the San Diego Padres. Half a season removed from their NLCS battle with the Phillies last October, the fellas from Southern California are straddling the line between buying and selling.
At 43-47 and with a four-game set against the Phils starting Friday at Citizens Bank Park, the Padres will need to decide their fate over the next dozen or so games. They trail the race for a wildcard spot by six games. If the Phillies can win the series, and San Diego is staring at a 44-50, or 43-51 record with two weeks to go before decision day, they might have to start planning to sell.
Here's what USA Today baseball insider Bob Nightengale had to say about the Padres' impending decision:
Rival GMs believe the Padres should unload starter Blake Snell and All-Star closer Josh Hader among others at the deadline, while also listening to offers for Juan Soto.
Yet, two GMs were informed that the Padres instead plan to be aggressive at the trade deadline and possibly even be buyers. [USA Today]
This ultimately could benefit the Phillies big time. If Dave Dombrowski does indeed want to make a big splash and make the Phillies a serious World Series contender again, SD has just what the Phils need.
An outfielder who can play defense and hit for power? That sounds a lot like 3-time Gold Glover and 3-time Silver Slugger Juan Soto. Still just 24, Soto's production at the plate dropped off quite a bit when he was traded from the Nationals to the Padres. One more year of team control follows with Soto in 2024 before he becomes a free agent in 2025. Oh, by the way, after the All-Star Game in Seattle, Soto flew back to Philly (ahead of their series) with Rob Thomson and the Phils. Hmm...
What about a starting pitcher who could make an impact in a playoff series? It doesn't get any better than Blake Snell, who is 6-7 due to a lack of run support, but boasts an impressive 2.85 ERA though 18 starts. Snell is set to become a free agent at season's end, so the Padres have some motivation to get something for him. He will pitch against the Phillies on Saturday in Game 1 of a split double-header. Philly should not be above trying to bring in a Snell-type impact pitcher as a rental. One of the biggest reasons the Phillies fell to the Astros in the Fall Classic was their lack of starting pitching depth.
Some more ammo in the bullpen? Josh Hader — his failures against the Phillies in the playoffs not withstanding — is another piece the Phils should kick the tires on. He's a hard-throwing lefty and it's hard to pitch much better than he has this season, a 1.08 ERA over 35 appearances and 21 saves.
The price for these players will be high. The number of buyers at the deadline could be high too, with so many playoff spots up for grabs. Rumors about the Yankees and Soto are already running rampant. But Philadelphia loves October baseball. It would be hard to imagine a team with more cash to spend, and more reason to cash in on prospects who are blocked positionally anyway than the Phillies this summer.
The Phillies can help themselves in a lot of ways this weekend, and taking care of business against the Padres may go a long way in helping them push for another memorable title run.
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