Mid-Season Trade Candidates–Carlos Quentin

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Name: Carlos Quentin

Tale of the tape: Outfielder; 29-years-old (30 in August); bats right; throws right; 6’2”; 235 lbs.

Contract status: $7.025 million salary for 2012; free agent at the end of the season.

Would the Padres trade him?

Not only would they trade him, but in the right deal GM Josh Byrnes would carry Quentin to his new destination. And given Quentin’s frequent injuries, that might be a necessity.

We’ll never know what the Padres might have been had Quentin not required knee surgery in spring training. He was acquired to be their basher in the middle of the lineup and their offense—shaky to begin with—was non-existent without him. When he returned on May 28th, he immediately showed what he can do when he’s healthy by hitting (as of this writing) 5 homers and 4 doubles in his first 35 plate appearances. They’re 18 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and 14 games out of the Wild Card lead. The season’s shot.

They didn’t give up notable prospects to get Quentin and given the gamebreaking ability he has in the middle of the lineup, they can get some good value for him on the market.

What would they want for him?

The Padres need power bats preferably on the middle infield and in a corner outfield spot.

Which teams would pursue and have the prospects to get him?

The only hope the Padres have of getting a respectable haul for Quentin is if he’s healthy from now to the time they truly decide to move him. If he can stay in the lineup into mid-July, they’ll have to act fast before he gets hurt again. If a bidding war develops because of his production and free agent status at the end of the season, the Padres can get one good prospect or two decent prospects with the attributes—middle infielder, power, on base skills—they’re looking for.

The entire American League East would want him; the White Sox would take him back; the Indians, Tigers, Phillies, Braves, Mets, and Pirates will all inquire on Quentin.

Watch the Pirates. They’re a sleeper team with prospects to deal, are in a winnable division and have the desperate need for a bat.

Would Quentin sign with the team that trades for him and forego free agency?

In a second, but no team is going to give him a long-term deal. If he’s willing to take a short-term contract with incentives the team that acquires him will be open to an extension.

Don’t expect it.

What will happen.

Byrnes isn’t stupid.

He knows that Quentin and the disabled list are irresistible to one another and it’s only a matter of time before something breaks down or he’s unlucky enough to get hit by a pitch and knocked out of action. It’s his history.

If Quentin is healthy by July 10th or so, Byrnes will step up efforts to move him and won’t be so adamant that teams walk away from the table. He’ll let the interested teams know what he wants for Quentin and once the demands are met, he’ll pull the trigger.

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Carlos Quentin is a Good Risk For the Padres

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Say this about Padres GM Josh Byrnes: he follows through on what he believes strategically; trusts the people he trusts; and doesn’t care about perception when he makes his moves.

The Mat Latos trade came out of nowhere and Byrnes got a metric ton of young talent for a similarly young, talented pitcher still under team control for four years; he’s listening to offers for top prospect Anthony Rizzo; and he acquired an MVP-quality and injury-prone bat in Carlos Quentin for two minor leaguers.

As GM of the Diamondbacks, Byrnes proved he was willing to do anything and everything based on what he believed; sometimes it worked out as in the trade for Dan Haren; others it didn’t when he fired manager Bob Melvin and replaced him with the inexperienced A.J. Hinch and saddled him with the implication that he was a puppet of the front office by referencing the bizarrely phrased and cryptic term “organizational advocacy”.

In short, Byrnes’s philosophy isn’t about ego or positive press; it’s “this is what I’m doing, like it or not.”

Let’s look at the trade.

For the Padres:

It’s obvious now that Rizzo’s going to get traded and if they deal him for Matt Garza, the Padres will have had an understated and successful off-season.

Quentin’s big issue is staying healthy. When he’s healthy, he’s a middle-of-the-order, impact bat. The notion that he’s the product of friendly home parks is nonsense—he’s hit well on the road and when he’s struggled, his BAbip has been atrocious; he’s hit in bad luck. Quentin is an up-the-middle hitter; that tells me that he—in an Albert Pujols like fashion—sees the ball very well and hits it squarely on a regular basis. He’s a huge man (6’2”, 235) and has the power to get the ball out of Petco Park.

He’s had injuries to his knee, wrist, heel and shoulder; he might miss substantial time with maladies—he’s never played more than 131 games and his fractured wrist in 2008 likely cost him the American League MVP.

Quentin went to Stanford and knows what’s at stake in 2012: he’s playing for his contract and if he stays on the field and puts up big numbers playing in a pitchers’ park, he’s going to be an inviting free agent target for all the big money clubs in baseball.

It’s no risk and massive reward for the Padres since the young players they surrendered—LHP Pedro Hernandez and RHP Simon Castro—pitched poorly in Triple A and the Padres have pitching to spare. They needed a bat.

If they’re contending, they’ll have a power bat who will be the reason they’re contending; if they’re not and Quentin’s hitting well, they can trade him for a greater return than they gave up; if he gets hurt, he gets hurt.

For the White Sox:

Quentin was out of the lineup as much as he was in it, they weren’t going to keep him after next season and needed to slash payroll somewhere.

As negatively rated as the two young pitchers are, you never know with pitchers and White Sox GM Ken Williams is the same man who was in love with Gavin Floyd when no one else was and, in spite of atrocious numbers, traded for him and watched him become a top-tier starter.

The White Sox aren’t doing a full-scale teardown as Williams implied after Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle left and he announced they were open for business for anyone on the roster; they signed John Danks to an extension and have yet to make any significant trades of players who would bring back name prospects. They cleared the Quentin salary, got two pitchers and will have a look at Dayan Viciedo as an everyday player.

Because the AL Central is so up-for-grabs, the White Sox can still compete; it makes no sense to do anything too drastic right now.

The trade makes sense for both sides and was crafted by two GMs who don’t let public reaction influence what they do one way or the other.

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