They collectively drafted him while in charge of the Red Sox, then Hoyer and McLeod brought him to San Diego in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez, and now reunited as the new brain trust for the Cubs the trio again brought their prized prospect with them, this time to the North Side of Chicago in exchange for RHP Andrew Cashner. For the Padres the transformation of the organization continued under the leadership of Josh Byrnes. Again Byrnes showed that no one is untouchable as he works to build the Padres into a system deep in young, controllable, and valued talent.
The writing was on the wall that Rizzo would be dealt when they acquired first base prospect Yonder Alonzo from the Reds in the Latos deal. The logical destination for Riz was the Cubs, and although several teams were in the running, Epstein and crew predictably got the nod. Although Riz struggled in his time up with the Pads last year, there is no question the 22 year old has a high power hitting ceiling, and Wrigley will be far more friendly to his fly balls to right field than PETCO would ever be. He’ll likely start in AAA, but will get his opportunity with the Cubs after he gets a little more seasoning, and tames the butterflies and long swing that hampered him in his first MLB stint.
Cashner, in return, gives the Pads what they need right now in a potentially overpowering set up man for Huston Street, and a possible starter down the road. The 6′-6″ right-hander can rush it up to the dish at 100 MPH, and is controllable for 5 more seasons before reaching free agency. He missed most of last season after straining his shoulder in his first start of the season for the Cubs, but returned to bullpen for the final month posting a 1.69 ERA in 7 games, allowing 3 hits in 10.2 innings of work.
When you step back and look at what has transpired in the past month for the Pads it’s certainly worthy of conversation. Byrnes has made no less that 6 trades, including highly touted players like Mat Latos, and Anthony Rizzo. In doing so he’s added an experienced closer, veteran power hitter, and several young players with high ceilings at first base, and the bullpen that will help the big league club immediately, along with several other industry valued prospects that could be everyday players within the next 2 years. The Padres are now an organization that other scouts talk about with a new respect, and in some cases palpable envy.
When you look at the changes that have taken place, both from the prospective of talent and attitude, there is good reason to believe that a tougher and more balanced team will take the field on opening day than last year. It’s still a work in progress for sure, but a foundation is finally being built in the Padres organization that can provide a steady and balanced stream of impact talent that will help the big league team directly, and provide an unprecedented bargaining power for the organization in trading with other teams.
Kudos to Josh Byrnes for being willing to make bold trades, holding no sacred cows, and for recognizing the need to bring a tougher edge to the clubhouse makeup in reshaping the organization. Will all these move work out perfectly for the Pads as planned? Of course not, but at least there appears to be a plan, and I for one can already see the purposeful forward progress, and can’t wait for the next move.