Padres Acquire Kimbrel In Seven Player Blockbuster
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The Hot Stove season began with the Padres making a flurry of deals and signings to rebuild their outfield. Now spring training ends with the disposal of the spare outfield parts that resulted from those changes and the addition of a major player who could ensure that the Padres reach their goal of making the post-season. In a surprise trade just as the season is getting underway, the Padres acquired relief pitcher extraordinaire Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin (formerly B.J.) Upton from the Braves, for outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin, right-handed pitching prospect Matt Wisler, outfield prospect Jordan Paroubeck and the 41st pick in the 2015 amateur draft.
The addition of Kimbrel, arguably the best closer in MLB, gives the Padres a formidable bullpen to go with their revamped starting rotation and offensive lineup. Over the past three seasons, Kimbrel has notched 139 saves with a 1.27 ERA, a .815 WHIP and 309 strikeouts over 191.1 IP. During that time period, only Aroldis Chapman (16.16 K/9 IP) has a higher strikeout rate than Kimbrel’s 14.53 K/9 IP. With Kimbrel taking over the ninth inning duties for the Padres, Joaquin Benoit will move to the setup role that he’s excelled at over the course of his 13-year career. He’s notched 109 Holds over the last five seasons, during which time he’s maintained a 2.35 ERA and 0.94 WHIP after overcoming command and control issues that plagued his early career. While Kimbrel’s Fantasy value gets a bit of a bump with the move to a much better overall team, Benoit’s value drops a bit outside of leagues that don’t use Holds.
Melvin Upton was an obvious salary dump on Atlanta’s part but the move to San Diego reunites him again with his brother Justin. Melvin is currently on the disabled list but when he finally joins the Padres he will likely be the backup centerfielder to Wil Myers and be used off the bench for pinch running and hitting duties. While Upton might have had a chance to play every day with the dumpster fire Braves with a shot at regaining some Fantasy value, he won’t have any such chance with the Padres unless Myers is injured and out for an extended period.
The Braves’ new closer is very likely to be veteran reliever Jason Grilli, though, the team also has Jim Johnson on the staff, another experienced closer. Grilli had 33 saves for the 2013 Pirates but struggled with his command and control last season. He was ultimately traded to the Angels, where he pitched better in a middle relief role. Grilli had little or no Fantasy value prior to the Kimbrel trade; now he’ll be targeted off the waiver wire as the odds on favorite for saves in Atlanta. If Grilli falls apart, Johnson could emerge as the closer. He notched 101 saves during the 2012 and 2013 seasons for the Orioles before control issues last year resulted in a demotion and ultimate trade to Detroit, where he continued to struggle. Johnson is worth keeping an eye on but not worthy of a roster spot unless the Braves actually insert him into the ninth inning job.
Cameron Maybin was a man without a position in San Diego, as the team had clearly moved on to their new trio of outfielders. In Atlanta, Maybin will almost certainly be the everyday centerfielder and likely bat in the top third of the lineup. While it seems like he’s been around forever, Maybin is just 28 years old. If he can stay healthy, he has the potential to steal 30-plus bases over the course of the season, but he’s also very likely to hurt your Fantasy batting average. Maybin is a career .246 hitter but he hasn’t batted over .243 since 2012 and he’s been dismal the last two seasons, batting .157 in 2013 and .235 last year. His power as all but disappeared as well, as his ISO hasn’t gone above .130 since 2009. He has 27 home runs over the past five seasons combined and just two HRs over the past two years, albeit with very limited playing time due to injury. That makes Maybin no more than waiver wire fodder in mixed leagues but worthy of a bench spot in deeper NL-only formats. Eric Young Jr. will take the biggest hit in terms of playing time, as he was slated to play centerfield while Upton was sidelined. The acquisition of Maybin moves Young to a platoon role in left field with Jonny Gomes. Manager Fredi Gonzalez has made it clear that it won't be a strict platoon and the numbers bear that out. Young hits right-handed pitching better than Gomes, though not that much better and with almost no power. Gomes will probably start against all left-handed pitchers and the two will share some sort of split against righties. Regardless of the split, neither player will have much Fantasy value in a timeshare.
The Braves have indicated that Carlos Quentin, once an up and coming slugger, will be designated for assignment despite being owed more than $8M under his current contract. Quentin was the Padres’ salary dump portion of this deal. Quentin had no Fantasy value before and has none now. Of the two prospects the Braves received in the deal, only pitcher Matt Wisler has the potential to make an impact this season. Wisler was considered the Padres’ top pitching prospect entering this season. He pitched in Triple-A last season, where he struggled with the long ball, ending up with a 5.01 ERA in 116.2 IP. His overall stuff is considered top notch, with a plus fastball, plus slider and a serviceable changeup and curve. His ceiling is as a number three starter with good strikeout potential. He still needs to work on his command but is good enough that he could debut in the majors some time later this season. When he does arrive, he’ll be worth a flier in all Fantasy formats for his strikeout potential.
Craig Kimbrel Photo Credit: NJ Baseball
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