Saturday, December 17, 2011

Padres trade Mat Latos to Cincinnati

I woke up at the crack of noon today, to discover that the Padres traded ace pitcher Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for four players. Initially, I was stunned. Latos has pitched to a 3.21 ERA over the last two seasons, and was under team control for four more years. While there has been questions about his attitude, I figured he was a guy the Padres would be targeting for an extension, not shopping. However, it seems like the Padres got a pretty decent package, although it did leave me scratching my head.

The Padres acquired 1B Yonder Alonso, SP Edinson Volquez, C Yasmani Grandal, and pitcher Brad Boxberger. Alonso put up huge numbers in a brief stint with the Reds last year, hitting .330/.398/.545, and swatting 5 HR's in 98 at-bats. He has the ability to play the outfield, although most scouts say that would be scarier that "The Exorcist."

Edinson Volquez is intriguing. He has a history of injuries, but when he was healthy in 2008, he was one of the better starting pitchers in the National League. He is still only 28, and pitching in Petco Park should help him regain a dominant form. However, he is nothing close to a sure thing at this point. Last season, he put up an ERA of almost 6.00 in 20 starts.

Yasmani Grandal is an intriguing young catcher, who is said to have above-average offensive skills, and should play solid defense. Last year in three minor league stops, he hit .305/.401/.500, and will likely start the season is Tucson. He might be the heir-apparent to Nick Hundley.

Brad Boxberger is a 23-year-old reliever from Tustin, CA. He has posted some ridiculous strikeout totals the last few years on the minors, averaging a blistering 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He could be a candidate to make the team as a reliever in 2012.

Kevin Says:  I am kind of torn with this deal. I love Mat Latos, and the attitude he brings to the mound. I figured he was a guy that the team would target for an extension. Instead, he was shipped away. Alonso has a legitimate bat, something the Padres surely need. However, he is essentially a first baseman, and the Padres have Anthony Rizzo and Jesus Guzman. I believe that Rizzo will be flipped, FOX sports Jon Paul Morosi throughout a Rizzo, plus prospects swap for Wade Davis. It would give the Padres a good, young arm to replace Latos.

I would be interested to see if the Padres could construct a trade around Carlos Quentin. He would give the Padres a legitimate power bat in RF, and would make the offense watchable in 2012. It is clear that the Padres Front Office has soured on Rizzo, otherwise they wouldn't take back a 1B as the centerpiece of a Latos swap. I am biased, because I am a big Latos fan, but on the surface it seems the Padres did pretty well in this trade, especially if Volquez becomes useful.