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Street is gone … now what?

As expected, the Padres made their first move Friday when they traded closer Huston Street to the Angels as part of a six-player deal that netted them four prospects.

Could this be just the tip of the iceberg as far as moves before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline for the team?

The Padres have been getting a lot of hits for weeks on third baseman Chase Headley, reliever Joaquin Benoit, pitcher Ian Kennedy and outfielder Chris Denorfia.

They could move some of them in deals. Heck, they could move all of them. The most likely candidates are Headley (a free agent after this season) and Denorfia, as the team already has four outfielders under contract for 2015 — Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable and Seth Smith.

Headley, two years removed from leading the NL in RBIs (115), could get a decent return, but only if the Padres sent some if not all of his remaining salary (likely $4 million or so) with him in a deal.

Stay tuned, things could get interesting in the next 10 days or so.

– Corey Brock

Padres: Getting hits on Street, Benoit …

It’s no surprise at all that the Padres are getting plenty of early inquiries on relievers Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit.

It’s not just the ability to get outs more often than not late in games that makes these two so attractive, though.

Both are controllable next season. Don’t underestimate the importance of this.

Street has a $7 club option while Benoit is owed $8 million as part of the second year of a two-year deal he signed with the team last winter.

That could make these two looks even more attractive the closer we get to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline — and could potentially impact the type of player the Padres get in return.

Make no mistake, the Padres will almost certainly deal one or the other. They almost have to.

– Corey Brock

Padres aren’t done yet …

It’s already been a busy winter for the Padres, who on Tuesday landed outfielder Seth Smith in a deal with the A’s, helping them land the left-handed bat they coveted this off-season.

The Padres dealt from a position of strength — pitching — to get Smith, who general manager Josh Byrnes figures could get 400+ plate appearances in the outfield and off the bench.

Dealing reliever Luke Gregerson, he of the wipe out slider, wasn’t easy for the Padres. But, as history shows us, relievers don’t often fetch a big return — not unless it’s on or before the July 31 Trade Deadline when teams are much more desperate for relief help.

The Padres hope to have Nick Vincent handle the seventh inning, Dale Thayer the eighth and closer Huston Street the ninth inning moving forward. Prospects Kevin Quackenbush and Leonel Campos could make a push in Spring Training to land jobs.

That said, the Padres will likely add one if not two more relievers before the start of Spring Training. Now that they’ve added Smith and starting pitcher Josh Johnson, look for them to turn their attention to finding a left-handed reliever.

– Corey Brock

Padres moves immiment?

The Winter Meetings are set to begin a week from Monday in Orlando.

Could the Padres be done filling their off-season needs before getting on a plane for Florida? Or could they be completely finished by the time they leave the Sunshine State?

“In the next week or two, there could be some activity,” Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said Saturday.

The Padres have already added a starting pitcher to their stable of arms, when they signed free agent Josh Johnson to a one-year deal worth $8 million.

Now the attention goes back to their primary off-season need, which is finding a left-handed hitter. We (sort of) know this: The team will add a bat through a trade and not free agency. And that player will likely be an outfielder.

The Padres are also looking to add a left-handed reliever to balance the bullpen.

To be sure, this could be a far different winter than the ones Byrnes has previously had in San Diego — where he made three notable trades (Mat Latos to the Reds for four players, getting Carlos Quentin from the White Sox and Andrew Cashner from the Cubs) after Dec. 17.

By then, Byrnes could essentially be finished shaping the 2014 roster. Stay tuned.

– Corey Brock

About that Padres pitching staff …

One of my most recent Hot Stove posts boasted this headline (done by me, of course): Padres: Pitching not required.

On Wednesday, the team signed right-hander Josh Johnson to a one-year deal worth $8 million.

So what do I know? Wait, don’t answer that.

Actually, in all fairness to myself, the Padres’ top priority this winter — and it still remains so — is finding a left-handed bat. They weren’t going to add a pitcher just for the sake of doing so.

But adding Johnson gives them not only depth but a top-of-the-rotation kind of arm to help fill an improved rotation, even if he carries some risk.

The Padres have more depth within their starting ranks than they’ve had in years, which leads me to believe it’s entirely possible that to land that left-handed bat — and I’m not talking a platoon guy — but someone with upside, that they could package some pitching together to make that happen.

Let’s look at the rotation candidates as it stands today (no specific order):

Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Johnson, Eric Stults, Tyson Ross, Burch Smith, Robbie Erlin, Joe Wieland, Cory Luebke with several other youngsters close, like highly-regarded Matt Wisler.

What’s the old saying? You can never have too much pitching. That’s probably true, but in order to get an impact bat, if they feel that’s their true need, they may have to part with with of the aforementioned arms and a prospect to do so.

– Corey Brock

Padres not in on Nolasco

A report circulated Friday that the Padres were one of the teams in pursuit of free agent pitcher Ricky Nolasco.

That’s not true, a source said Friday.

Nolasco is expected to command a multi-year deal, perhaps as great as four years in length. That, of course, would carry a pretty steep price tag as well.

The Padres, who would like to add a starting pitcher, won’t go that far on a deal. And pitching isn’t their top priority of the winter.

The first priority for the team remains finding a left-handed hitter to help them remedy their woeful offensive output against right-handed pitchers in 2013.

That could likely come through a trade, though free agents David Murphy and Nate McLouth are names the team might be considering.

– Corey Brock

Padres: Pitching not required

It’s no secret the Padres — especially playing in a big ballpark — have tried to built their team with run prevention in mind.

That equates to pitching and defense. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This winter, the team hasn’t placed pitching atop their off-season wish list. They’re reasonably happy with the arms and the depth they have for the rotation going into 2014.

There are plenty of candidates for five spots — Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Eric Stults are essentially assured of spots. Robbie Erlin, Burch Smith, Joe Wieland, Cory Luebke (if healthy) will be in the mix and young arms like Juan Oramas, Matt Wisler, Matt Andriese, Donn Roach and Keyvius Sampson might not be far off.

That’s not the say the Padres will turn their back on arms this winter. However, a deal — and any additions would likely come through trade, not free agency — would only be for a front of the rotation type starter or someone who offers long-term value.

Instead, the Padres will focus mostly on finding a left-handed bat after the team went through a woeful season against right-handed pitchers.

– Corey Brock

A quiet Trade Deadline for the Padres?

It’s certainly beginning to look that way.

Granted, things can change quickly between now and Wednesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline and the Padres might still be blown away by an offer for, say, one of their relievers.

But for now, it appears there’s a good possibility the team won’t make any moves.

If you read rumors about the availability of outfielder Carlos Quentin, move on. He’s not and has never been on the table as far as trade discussions. He holds a no-trade clause and he’s been approached about waiving that right.

As much as the Padres would like to add a starting pitcher — and they will before the start of Spring Training — they might have a better chance to make a deal after the regular season.

Yes, the Padres have some interesting trade pieces, especially relievers Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher, but the market is still flooded with relievers, leading to speculation that contending teams won’t need to overpay to add an arm.

Again, this could all change in the time it takes me to hit the ‘publish post’ button, but I won’t be surprised at all if the Padres wait until the off-season to make big changes to their roster.

– Corey Brock

 

Padres singular need: Starting pitching

No, this isn’t news.

A month ago, when the Padres were still in the thick of the National League West race, they were looking for starting pitching to bolster their rotation.

Now, even after tumbling out of the race due to a bad month of July, the Padres still need starting pitching — not so much for the rest of 2013 but for 2014 and beyond.

It’s a strong possibility that the trio of Jason Marquis (Tommy John surgery), Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez won’t return in 2014.

That leaves Andrew Cashner, Eric Stults and Tyson Ross as the leading candidates for starting jobs in 2014. Go ahead and add two players coming off Tommy John surgery, Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland, to that mix as well.

The Padres know they need to add starting pitching between now and the start of Spring Training and they have a few interesting pieces they could sell high on, no more so than reliever Luke Gregerson.

Going into Saturday’s game against the D-backs, the Padres had a starting pitcher go seven or more innings just 20 times in the first 104 games of the season.

The Padres would love to add a pitcher that they can control through 2014 (and, if possible, beyond).

Their best chance to do so could come between now and Wednesday’s deadline. If not, they’ll try to strike a deal in the off-season.

Either way, the team will add starting pitching. It’s just a matter of when.

– Corey Brock

Padres: “Different conversations …”

A month ago, Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said the team was “very aggressive in kicking the tires” on several potential additions for a team that not long ago was two games above .500 and one game out of first place in the National League West.

But today, as the Padres prepare to start the second half with the first of 10 games on the road, Byrnes has been singing a different tune with teams.

“Different conversations,” Byrnes said last week.

Translation: The Padres are no longer buyers but are more so sellers (in reality, everyone is a seller to some degree, but that’s a different post).

The Padres, who were always hoping to find additions to their pitching staff, have always had their sight set on players they could control beyond 2013. The part about being high on adding a ‘rental’ player? That likely was never going to happen.

So if the team is selling, who is on the block? Just about everyone, likely. Chase Headley is and will continue to get hits from other teams. He’s not going anywhere. Same for second baseman Jedd Gyorko.

The Padres would still like to add pitching but would have to dip into their Minor League system to do so. Edinson Volquez isn’t drawing much attention. Someone like Kyle Blanks or Jesus Guzman might, but you’d likely have to package one of them with a prospect to get anything substantial in return.

– Corey Brock

 

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