One of the more interesting names to continually pop up in the wheel of Corey Kluber suitors has been the San Diego Padres. Despite last year’s efforts to build around... *checks notes* Eric Hosmer... they still found themselves last in the National League West and one of the worst teams in all of baseball.
So when rumors of them pursuing Corey Kluber arose over and over again, it was... odd. Kluber has three years of control left, yes, but the Padres might waste another year or two of that just trying to find solid ground to rebuild on. Why on Lindor’s green Earth would a team in a situation like the Padres’ want Kluber?
Thanks to The Athletic’s Dennis Lin (and maybe Ken Rosenthal in some roundabout way?) we have our answer. They want him to help them fix third base.
In their search for a third baseman, the Padres have explored three-team trade possibilities, including one that would send Corey Kluber to Cincinnati, sources tell @Ken_Rosenthal and me. No is deal close.— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) January 15, 2019
San Diego’s interest in Kluber is primarily to flip him, sources say; he does not fit the Padres age-wise. Pads struggling to line up with trade partners. If they could get Kluber, they likely would want top Reds prospect Nick Senzel, whom Cincinnati does not want to move.— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) January 15, 2019
Lin specifically names the Reds as a three-team candidate and top Reds prospect (and No. 6 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline) Nick Senzel as the targeted prize for the Padres. Senzel is one the prospects theorized to be involved in those long faded talks between the Indians and Reds as a third and second baseman ready to make an impact on a major league team as early as next season. It makes total sense that the Indians would want him, and it makes sense that the Padres would want him, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that the Indians would help the Padres get him. If Senzel (and probably more) could be had for Kluber, why wouldn’t the Indians just do it themselves?
Presumably, the return for Kluber from the Padres would be something involving Wil Myers and the rights to all of Tony Gwynn’s history and goodwill. Or something. What I’m saying is the Indians better have the Padres over a barrel if they are going to deal away one of their top pitchers in franchise history to help them fix their hole at third base.
It’s interesting that Lin says it’s the Padres having trouble struggling to line up with partners, specifically. Does that mean the Padres are struggling to find someone to send Kluber to (implying they already have a deal in place that might work between them and the Indians)? Or does nobody at all have any interest in what the Pads are peddling?
As far as the Indians and Padres as one-to-one trade partners, the two don’t exactly mesh well. The Padres are a team without a lot of great major leaguers, and the Indians need major leaguers. San Diego does have an up-and-coming catching prospect named Francisco Mejia, but sources say the Indians aren’t that interested. They do also have Austin Hedges, who was presumed to be their catcher of the future before they acquired Mejia from a mystery team at last season’s trade deadline.
So that leads us back to Myers and possibly some throw-in from a third team. Oh joy.