Padres may keep Headley who is under team control through 2014
There is a better chance of snow falling in southern California than the Padres mimicking the newfound spending habits of their National League rival and neighbor to the north in Los Angeles. Still, there is a sudden change in the way they are doing business in San Diego.
Earlier in August, Major League Baseball owners approved the sale of the Padres for around $800 million to a group that includes Kevin and Brian O’Malley, the sons of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley. Peter O’Malley’s nephews, Peter and Tom Seidler, are also part of the group.
Before the 1958 season, the late Walter O’Malley bought the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 and moved them to Los Angeles. Peter O’Malley succeeded his father. Under the O’Malley family, the Dodgers captured six World Series championships and 13 National League titles before they were sold in 1998.
An expansion franchise in 1969, the Padres have reached World Series twice, losing to the Tigers in 1984 and the Yankees in 1998.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported that the Padres could adjust their off-season plans by keeping 28-year-old third baseman Chase Headley, who is batting .277 with 22 home runs, 82 RBI and .830 OPS this season. Headley is under team control through 2014.
Rosenthal also suggested that San Diego could pursue a free agent starting pitcher, which would add depth to a rotation that features left-hander Clayton Richard, young right-hander Casey Kelly and 29-year-old right-hander Edinson Volquez. Hiroki Kuroda, Rosenthal writes, is a possibility if the Yankees do not retain him.
According to Rosenthal, the typically penny-pinching Padres are taking this new approach not solely because of new ownership, but in essence the new ownership group has everything to do with a willingness to add payroll.
This off-season, the Padres will have between $25 million to $30 million available for free agents and/or trade acquisitions, according to San Diego sports radio XX1090′s Jordan Carruth. Carruth said that the team will target outfielders. Though it would seem that Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton and B.J. Upton would be out of San Diego’s price range, the team could pursue Torii Hunter to provide a veteran presence.
San Diego entered the season with a $55,621,900 payroll, according to Baseball Prospectus. The team’s highest payroll since 2000 was $73,677,616, in 2008. Yet this is a new era in San Diego with a fresh ownership group, and the front office is ecstatic about the club’s performance over the last few months. Since June 10, the Padres are 41-30, which is fourth in the National League and the best in the National League West.
The Padres demonstrated they are committed to changing their way based on their actions at the non-waiver trade deadline in July. Instead of dealing key veterans at the non-waiver trade deadline, they locked up Quentin and Street.
The 30-year-old Quentin, who plays left field and is batting .262 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI this season, agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal on July 22. The contract includes a $16 million club option for 2016.
Street, a 29-year-old closer who is currently on the 15-day disabled list, inked a two-year, $14 million extension with a $7 million team option in 2015.
A glance at San Diego’s current lineup shows some promising young position players like catcher Yasmani Grandal, first baseman Yonder Alonso and center fielder Cameron Maybin. Headley is just entering his prime, Quentin is amid his prime years and the team likes 29-year-old outfielder Will Venable and 25-year-old defensive-minded shortstop Everth Cabrera.
Top prospects like third baseman Jedd Gyorko, outfielder Rymer Liriano and second baseman Cory Spangenderg are getting closer to the majors. The 23-year-old Gyorko is raking at Triple-A Tucson, hitting .333 with 24 home runs, 83 RBI and a .984 OPS. Gyorko could make the 2013 opening day roster as the starting second baseman so the team can keep Headley at third base.
Earlier this week, the Padres saw another glimpse of their future when the 22-year-old Kelly, who was acquired from Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez trade before the 2011 season, made his Major League debut and limited Atlanta to no runs and three hits over six innings, earning the victory. Kelly has frontline starter potential, and if the Padres combine him with Richard, Volquez and a reliable free agent, they can assemble a formidable rotation next season.