The powerful outfielder has only been back for 6 games, but Carlos Quentin has made an impact right away on the Padres previously anemic offense. He’s hitting a bananas .522/.577/.1.348 with 5 homers and 9 RBI, slugging the ball even in San Diego. All this production by the outfielder hasn’t amounted to much in the win column, but Quentin could pay off big in another way for the Padres this summer.
San Diego’s 16-game deficit to first place Los Angeles is the largest in baseball, and they currently have the worst record in the league at 19-37. Their biggest issue has been a complete inability to drive the ball out of the park and scoring runs, as San Diego ranks last in homers and 2nd to last in runs scored in all of baseball. Quentin’s addition has helped, but the team is already too far out of contention to make any sort of a playoff run. And with 19 teams (not including Detroit, who’s 5.5 back of a Wild Card spot) within 5 games of their division leads, plenty of borderline contenders will be looking for outfield help, which Quentin can provide.
The Padres should try to turn Quentin into a couple of high upside prospects, which will help a budding farm system that is looking to compete a couple of years from now at the Major League level. The Padres’ farm system was ranked 2nd by the well-respected John Sickles, 1st by Fangraphs, and 3rd by BaseballAmerica coming into the season. Both Sickles and Fangraphs commented on the systems depth, but none of the system’s players rates as a true superstar.
The Padres highest rated prospect before the season was Yonder Alonso, who has cooled off after a hot start to the season, but profiles as an above-average 1st baseman, not the superstar the Padres need. Other potential impact players include: Rymer Liriano, a very raw, very talented outfielder, Cory Spandenberg, a young 2nd baseman tearing up the low minors, and Casey Kelly, a hard-throwing righty acquired in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. All of these players project as future major league starters, but none of them projects as a true superstar. Sickles gives all of these players B to B+ ratings, meaning that San Diego has a solid pool of players who should make the major league roster at around the same time. The Padres just need to add a few more, or try to acquire one big fish.
Some potential buyers looking for outfield help could include Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. The Phillies, Indians, and Tigers all have a strong history of being active on the trade market if they feel their respective teams are a player away from true contention. By swinging a trade with any of these teams, San Diego could greatly improve their chances of building a pennant winning ball club in 204 or 2015, rather than hoping to claw their way back to mediocrity this year. Let’s take a look at a few of the potential suitors for the talented Carlos Quentin:
-Philadelphia, in particular, has already mortgaged most of their future in past years to compete in the present. They have some interesting pitchers with some upside, including Trevor May, a righty who’s posted big K rates in the lower minors and Jesse Biddle, a 6’4″ lefty who’s working on improving his curveball. Both would appear a little redundant with the amount of pitching the Phillies currently have on the Major League roster and they could be swapped for Quentin. The Phillies have been decimated by injuries to their superstar players, but have performed admirably and could use some reinforcements.
-Baltimore has been more competitive this season than any of the past and its been reported that they have been aggressive on the trade market so far, but they may be looking for a pitcher rather than an impact bat. The Orioles offense has begun to cool off in the past couple of weeks, dropping to 10th in runs scored in baseball, and Quentin would fit in nicely as a leftfielder/DH. Currently those positions are manned by Nick Johnson and Endy Chavez, who have provided negative value and a combined .165 batting average in 150 at-bats. The O’s may not have much to trade however, unless they want to part with top prospects Manny Machado, a power-hitting shortstop, or Dylan Bundy, who has been blowing people away in A ball and rocketing up near the top of most prospect rankings.
-Much like Baltimore, the Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in contention a third of the way into the season, only 2 games behind the NL Central leading Cincinnati Reds. That’s despite having the worst offense in baseball, one that has only one surefire major league starter on any other big league team. Andrew McCutchen has carried the offense, and adding a bat like Quentin into the mix would surely help. The other Pirates corner outfielders, Jose Tabata and Alex Pressley have hit .228 and .220 respectively and neither gets on-base at an acceptable rate. The two players have a combined 5 homers in their 305 combined at-bats. Quentin hit 5 homers in his first 25. Pittsburgh has plenty in their minor league system to offer as well, ranking in the top half of most prospect reports because of its depth. Gerrit Cole and James Tallion, two ace-caliber pitchers may be off limits, but outfielders Sterling Marte and Josh Bell, two talented player with power, could be what San Diego is looking for.
-Finally the Detroit Tigers, who could really use a boost in their clubhouse and lineup. The Tigers rank just 9th in runs scored, despite the glitzy acquisition of Prince Fielder, in part because they have a few black holes in their lineup. Brennan Boesch has been terrible this season, hitting .226/.259/.341 with 4 homers. Quentin’s career OPS is nearly .250 points higher than Boesch’s this year. 3rd baseman Nick Castellanos could be a target for the Padres. He profiles as an All-Star caliber hitter, who could bat .300 while hitting 20-25 homers in a spacious ballpark like PetCo.
San Diego should be shopping Quentin for all they can get, and should hope to duplicate last year’s Carlos Beltran-Zach Wheeler trade. The Mets were out of contention and were able to get a high-upside, ace-caliber arm for a player they probably weren’t going to resign. If San Diego can get that kind of high impact player, it would be a coup for the front office, and set the Padres up for contention in 2014-2015. As for the interested suitors, each of those ball clubs would improve their 2012 playoff chances and offensive firepower by adding the slugging leftfielder. It will be interesting to see who pulls the trigger and how early they do, because every Quentin homerun for San Diego is increasing his value and driving the cost up for the talented outfielder.