The San Diego Padres have been known to pull off some major trades involving top prospects. Being a small market team with an extremely low payroll, the Padres are generally the team who deals away a big time player with MLB experience for a package of top prospects from another team. But this time, they may be the one who deals away a top prospect, although it is unknown as to what they may be seeking in return.
After the 2010 MLB season, San Diego knew that they would simply be unable to afford Adrian Gonzalez past one more year. They could also not afford to let him leave as a free agent, so they decided to trade him to the Boston Red Sox instead of going through the entire season with all of the trade talk distractions.
The Padres sent Gonzlaez to the Boston Red Sox for a trio of top rates prospects that included pitcher Casey Kelly, outfielder Reymound Fuentes and first baseman Anthony Rizzo. While Kelly and Fuentes were not expected to be MLB ready for a couple of more years, Rizzo was expected to become the new face of the franchise. He was called up for 49 games in the 2011 MLB season, and batted just .141 with 1 home run. While nobody would publicly say that they are giving up on Rizzo, the Padres are preparing to deal him for a return package featuring more pitching.
The Padres could already be moving on from the Rizzo Era.
This past month, the Padres pulled off another big trade featuring some highly touted prospects. They sent starting pitcher Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds for a package including first baseman Yonder Alonso, pitcher Brad Boxberger, catcher Yasmani Grandal and starting pitcher Edinson Volquez. They gave up a starting pitcher with a bright future in Latos, but San Diego got quite a haul in return.
Alonso figures to be ahead of Rizzo in terms of potential and readiness. Alonso was behind Joey Votto with the Reds, and now Rizzo is in a similar situation with the Padres. That is why he is now expendable, less than one year after being dubbed the future face of the franchise.
Rizzo could be dealt as soon as next week, but figures to be traded within the next month, giving him and the team time to decide on possible depth charts entering Spring Training. In all likelihood, the Padres could be looking for starting pitching in return, although they could use a new closer to replace Heath Bell as well.
The teams who may make the most sense include the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals. The Rays have a plethora of prospects who they could offer for Rizzo, as do the Nationals. The Cubs may have to offer Matt Garza, although the Padres would probably only acquire him to flip him in another deal over the course of the upcoming season.
Either way, the Rizzo experiment appears to be drawing to an early close.