Blog Entry

Why the Padres traded Mat Latos

Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:24 pm
Yonder Alonso

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every trade happens for a reason -- or two reasons, actually. One for each side. With Saturday's big deal between the Reds and Padres, we'll look at the reasons for both sides. You can read the Reds' reasons here, but here's why the Padres sent Mat Latos to Cincinnati:

The Padres aren't expected to contend in 2012, instead, they're building for the future, just as they did last season when they sent Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. While the Padres sent Gonzalez to Boston because they couldn't afford to pay him what he was going to make, they traded Latos to add overall talent, getting two big leaguers and two prospects who aren't far off. 

As for Latos, the 24-year-old came into 2011 as the team's ace, but failed to live up to his outstanding 2010. The Padres were unhappy that Latos came into spring training last season out of shape and they also questioned his maturity at times. San Diego has stockpiled young pitching with the likes of Tim Stauffer and Clayton Richard -- with Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin in the minor leagues getting closer to being able to contribute. And let's face it, you don't need swing-and-miss stuff to succeed at Petco Park.

"Some of these guys who I have been around, I remember guys we had in Cleveland like Jaret Wright and Bartolo Colon who were untouchables. Colon went on to have a great career, Wright was injured. It's part of the risk and reward with any pitcher," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. "Mat grew up in a hurry in the big leagues, he was probably going to do very well. We have a very good group of pitchers, and we have a good group in Double-A coming behind them." 

Brad BoxbergerThe bottom line for San Diego is they got more talent than they gave up on Saturday.

In all, San Diego got four players and three, if not all four, could play in San Diego this upcoming season.

Anthony Rizzo may be the Padres' top prospect, but the first baseman wasn't expected to be ready to man the position right away. Yonder Alonso, on the other hand, is more than ready. Playing nearly with any other team, he'd have gotten more than 98 plate appearances than he got with the Reds in 2011. But that's what happens when you're playing behind the reining MVP. In those 98 plate appearances, he hit .330/.398/.545 and showed a bit of power, but his plate awareness was even more impressive. The Reds flirted with putting Alonso in left field and at third base, but he never gained the confidence of the team's top brass at either spot. Byrnes said the team would use Alonso at first, and "probably not" in the outfield.

• Yasmani Grandal was Cincinnati's top pick in 2010. A switch-hitting catcher, Grandal played at three different levels in 2011, hitting 14 home runs between Single-A Bakersfield, Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville. Like Alonso, his former teammate at the University of Miami, Grandal's knowledge of the strike zone and approach at the plate is one of his top attributes. Reviews of his work behind the plate have been mixed so far. While he may not be ready to play in the majors this season, he is still easily the Padres' top catching prospect. San Diego drafted Austin Hedges in the second round of the 2011 draft and have been impressed by him, but he's still several years away from the majors.

• Brad Boxberger (pictured) isn't one of the names many casual fans had heard of, but the Reds were considering him in the mix for the closer spot if they are unable to find a free-agent or trade replacement for Francisco Cordero. The Padres also think he could be a closer for them down the line. A supplemental first-rounder in the 2009 draft out of USC, Boxberger had 11 saves between Double-A and Triple-A in 2011, striking out 93 batters in 62 innings. He has struggled with control, but showed better command in the Arizona Fall League. On Saturday, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said Boxberger was possibly the key to the deal. The Reds had been dangling the other three players, but didn't want to move Boxberger. But the Padres insisted and Jocketty made the move.

• Finally there's the former All-Star, Edinson Volquez. Still just 28, Volquez's talent has never been in question. He has an electric right arm and a great changeup. As much as his control has been in question, the true struggles have been above the neck. He was twice sent to the minor leagues in 2011, mirroring his behavior from earlier in his career with the Rangers. The Reds, unsure if Josh Hamilton could stay healthy and wanting an elite arm, traded Hamilton for Volquez and Daniel Ray Herrera after the 2007 season. Both Volquez and Hamilton made the All-Star team in 2008, but Volquez then had arm troubles and missed most of 2009 and 2010 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Since his return, he's showed velocity, but not control or consistency. He could bounce back, but walks have been his biggest problem, so playing at Petco Park won't help him as much as other pitchers. 

"Volquez is a bit of a wild card here," Byrnes said. "He was a very decorated prospect, an All-Star coming off Tommy John surgery and he hasn't returned to form. We think his stuff is very good, 90-96, a devastating changeup. Given his age, another year past surgery, our pitching coach and our ballpark, hopefully it can turn around for him." 

Latos is a talent, but in the end, the Reds offered just too much for the Padres to walk away from the deal.

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Since: May 5, 2007
Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:10 am

Why the Padres traded Mat Latos

Oh boy the Reds gave away the store!

Since: Oct 26, 2006
Posted on: December 19, 2011 11:01 am

Why the Padres traded Mat Latos

Padre fans should be rejoicing in the streets for the haul they just landed.  As a Seattle Mariners fan, with out any justification we consistently hear Felix Hernandez rumors.  Of all those rumors, which most consume of the Yankees or Red Sox the hauls are no where near as close as what the Padres just landed.  The reds had the depth for the trade, but are they out of their minds?!  They should of landed a much more elite arm then Latos for what they paid.  No discredit towards Latos.. but Alonso by himself should of been enough to land him.  Then add in Grandal, Boxberger and Volquez.  Volquez has struggled, but he's the cream on the top not the content here.  I remember when the Hamilton trade occurred and that year him and Cueto had in the first half of 2008.  Cuban Dandies.  Volquez has better stuff then Latos when he was on... which hasn't happened in 3 years.  

Alonso, Grandal, and Boxberger?!? Padres GM is in the early running for GM of the year.  This trade won't be close in 2 years.

Since: May 8, 2007
Posted on: December 19, 2011 9:25 am

Why the Padres traded Mat Latos

I'm sure there are many Padres' fans out there who don't like seeing Matt Latos traded away, however, this deal brought in too much of a haul to turn it down. Honestly, there is real potential that Volquez could pitch near Latos' potential at some point soon, not to mention the other 3 valuable parts of the deal. The Padres are going to eventually come away as run away winners of this deal, but it may take a season (if that) to prove it to San Diego fans. 

Since: Dec 11, 2009
Posted on: December 18, 2011 6:36 pm

Why the Padres traded Mat Latos

Latos is a head case and they got quite a bit in return. I'm glad that the GM isn't afraid to trade away talent to get talent in return. Rizzo is probably going to be traded to get a starter, second baseman or both.

Since: Sep 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 6:23 pm

Why the Padres traded Mat Latos

I think they gave up on Latos too soon..although I really like the players they recieved in the tade.
As a Padre fan, I hope that they will not make the same mistake with Rizzo.

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