Why the Padres should trade for Carlos Quentin

Carlos Quentin would fill a need with the San Diego Padres. (Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated)

Let’s get right to it: Why should the Padres trade for Carlos Quentin? Well, for starters Quentin is under team control for another year for a reasonable price. He also has ties to former partial owner Jeff Moorad of the Diamondbacks, now Padres (CEO), from Quentin’s days in Arizona. We already saw another former client of Moorad reportedly sign this week, Mark Kotsay.

The Padres need to emphasize right-handed pull hitters in PETCO Park, while cutting down on strikeouts. Well, Quentin fits both bills. While he’s not an ideal defender in right field, let’s be realistic, there’s only so many trade partner matches. Is it realistic to find an elite prospect who should bode well in PETCO and is also young, cheap and possessing all the major criteria (right-handed pull power, speed, defense and low K ratio)? How many of those prospects are around or available? Not many. Two teams have to match up well, and I think the Padres and White Sox fit well given the state of each team’s direction.

The Padres now have one of the better farm systems in baseball. I’m not sure exactly what the White Sox would be asking for, (they have many holes) but the Padres should easily be able to present a player or prospect package for consideration. Quentin, who is third-time arbitration eligible, made $5.05 million last year. So, even with Quentin due for another raise, he should be a nice fit considering the Padres payroll should start at $54M according to Moorad. I realize that’s nowhere near ideal, even in small-market San Diego. However, the Padres are slowly climbing up from last year’s overall payroll of $45.9 million and could have much more flexibility if Heath Bell tests the free-agent market, which looks very likely at this point.

If you look at Quentin’s spray chart, not many balls are hit to right-center field, where PETCO Park swallows fly balls. He’s a dead pull-hitter, which should profile well in PETCO, where the ball carries better to left field. Today on MLBTraderumors.com, we heard White Sox GM Kenny Williams received at least one surprising trade proposal while in Milwaukee at the winter meetings. Now, that doesn’t by any means link Quentin to the Padres, and it’s a very vague statement. Having said that, I would think it would strike many in the industry as surprising and fitting.

The Padres currently have Will Venable set to be the starting right fielder come 2012 barring any significant signings or trades. The Padres also have Jesus Guzman who has been playing left field and first base in the Venezuelan League. However, we should keep in mind that Guzman’s bat is what keeps him in the lineup. He is nowhere ideal for PETCO Park playing defense, especially in the outfield. In fact, he’s destined to be an AL DH.

The Padres also have internal-prospect options such as, James Darnell, Blake Tekotte and, down the road, Jaff Decker, who is a bit farther away and continuing his seasoning. Darnell, could be another option. He’s shown to be a natural third baseman during his pro career, yet he was getting playing time in the minors last year in the outfield for the first time. He also missed playing in the Arizona Fall League due to dislocating his non-throwing shoulder during a diving attempt, hindering any chance of further seasoning in the outfield before the 2012 season.

Tekotte also made his debut last year among a slew of other young Padres because of myriad injuries. It remains to be seen if Tekotte is looked at as an internal upgrade now or for the future. He has some pop and could develop into a nice number-one or two hitter. Some scouts believe he is destined as a fourth outfielder. Decker had a roller-coaster season last year and is at least a year away from making his debut. He needs to remain healthy and produce.

It would make sense for the Padres to go after a player who is under contract for one year, giving the internal-option players time to develop. This allows management time to assess player progress as well as the market. Quentin also has had health issues over the years, which could give the never-gun-shy Williams even more incentive to move him, given the state of the team and Quentin’s raise in 2012.

Quentin had a .254/.340/.499 slash line, hit 31 doubles, 24 homers and 77 RBI while striking out only 84 times in 421 AB. Almost identical to his career line of 252/.346/.490. Quentin is also a very productive hitter with men on base. He’s a career .284/.372/.538 with runners on base, and even more impressive with runners in scoring position, batting a cool .286/.383/.528. He also destroys the ball with the bases loaded, with an impressive .309/.369/.709 career line.

If he can stay healthy, he could be a very nice fit in San Diego. A Bellflower, CA, native, Quentin is hitting his prime and, once again, has ties to the current front office who picked him (although not under Moorad personally) at Arizona in the first round (29th overall) of the 2003 amateur draft. Could this be the first major move the new Padres GM Josh Byrnes makes? It would be ironic given Byrnes is the one who dealt him when he was in Arizona. Tell me what you think.

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