The San Diego Padres continued their fire sale on Tuesday, as they traded third baseman Chase Headley to the New York Yankees in exchange for almost nothing. The move was basically a salary dump by the Padres, who are clearly trying to free up their books for whoever their next general manager will be.
Headley hasn’t been the same player since he blew up in 2012. That year he led the National League in RBIs (115), had a career-high 31 home runs and won a Gold Glove at third base. Since then his production has slipped precipitously and he couldn’t agree on a contract extension to remain in San Diego despite various attempts since the winter of 2012.
In exchange for the homegrown Headley, the Padres received utility infielder Yangervis Solarte and right handed pitching prospect Rafael De Paula. Neither guy is considered to be an impact player and the Padres also sent $1 million to New York.
The 30-year-old Headley can become a free agent after this season and the Padres could have received draft pick compensation if they extended a qualifying offer to him this offseason and he chose not to accept it. But that offer would have likely been in the $15 million range and there was a good chance Headley would have accepted it. That would be far too much money for a guy who has hit .229 so far this season with just seven home runs, 32 RBIs and a woeful .651 OPS.
Headley is the second Padres player to be dealt in less than a week, as the team shipped closer Huston Street to the Angels on Friday night. There are likely more deals to come. San Diego is ready to sell off most of its players, as Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit, Chris Denorfia and Carlos Quentin are all available. In fact, I’m not sure anyone on the roster would be classified as “untouchable.”
The Padres want to stockpile prospects, and while they didn’t do that in the Headley deal, they did manage to clear a lot of salary (and potential future salary) off the books. The rebuilding jobs started by former general managers Jed Hoyer and Josh Byrnes haven’t worked, so whoever takes the job next will have a fairly clean slate to work with.
Padres fans should be prepared to wait a while before the team is competitive again.