The San Diego Padres have been handcuffed by Chase Headley's breakout 2012 performance. They have been in on and off negotiations with the third baseman for the past two seasons, but last year essentially priced Headley out of the Padres' extension budget. He hit a career-high 31 home runs and led the National League with 115 RBI. However, since fracturing his thumb and returning from the disabled list, Headley has struggled. These struggles says Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune may allow the Padres to get back in the game for a possible extension.
In his weekly chat, Center said Headley is the only real Padres player who could fetch a premium on the trade market. However, Center pointed out that the premium could quickly evaporate if Headley doesn't start to produce soon. San Diego knows what they have in Headley even if he doesn't return to 2012 levels, and they have long wanted to extend him - for the right price. That price may come again if Headley can't regain his 2012 form.
So far this season (keep in mind it's only been seven games*), Headley is hitting .160/.267/.280 with one home run and three RBI. Headley will have to crank it up quickly if he is going to keep pace with last year. But his thumb may be holding him back.
*Stats prior to last night's game
During spring training, Headley jammed his finger on a base and ultimately fractured it. The injury required Headley to sit on the disabled list, but fortunately it did not require surgery. Now that Headley has returned, it's evident that he is still trying to find his rhythm. That rhythm may not come quite as smoothly as it did last year which would be all the better for San Diego - if they truly want to keep him, that is.
San Diego has to decide whether a trade would be better than an extension at this point. The decision may ultimately be out of their hands, but Headley could still be dealt even if his performance doesn't improve much. The availability of third baseman right now is such that Headley is a precocious target. If San Diego wants to extend Headley, they may very well have their chance in the coming weeks. But as we all know, players can get hot in a hurry.
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