As the intensity of trade discussions increases, here’s an interesting notion to consider:
The low-revenue Padres could add a pricey veteran hitter such as White Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin.
Quentin, 29, is highly available as he enters his final season before hitting the open market. The Padres can’t afford free-agent hitters, not that many would even want to play at pitcher-friendly Petco Park. So, trades are the only way for them to fix an offense that last season ranked next-to-last in runs in the National League.
And the Pads, for a change, actually have a measure of payroll flexibility.
Team CEO Jeff Moorad has said that the team will increase its payroll from $45 million to more than $50 million. Three departing free agents — closer Heath Bell, right-hander Aaron Harang and outfielder Ryan Ludwick — earned nearly $18 combined last season.
A number of Padres are arbitration-eligible and will require raises. But the Pads demonstrated their relative flexibility in the Huston Street trade, assuming $7 million of the closer’s remaining $7.5 million obligation.
Street took Bell’s salary slot. The Padres likely will rely on younger pitchers rather than sign a free agent to replace Harang, who earned $3.5 million last season. But they need to replace Ludwick, who earned $6.755 million.
Enter Quentin, who likely will receive between — you guessed it — $6.5 million and $7 million in arbitration.
Quentin grew up in San Diego. Padres GM Josh Byrnes and assistant GM A.J. Hinch are familiar with him from their days together with the Diamondbacks. The fit would be almost perfect, provided the Padres and White Sox could agree on the return.
— Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi