Once the MLBPA and owners come to an agreement and end the CBA lockout, the MLB offseason will resume. Though there was plenty of activity prior to the work stoppage, no team is complete and there is still a large amount of moves waiting to be made once the offseason continues. Because of this, I wanted to take a look at what some teams in direct competition with the Jays could have in store when the offseason resumes.
The AL East is going to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball again this year. Here’s one bold move that every team in the AL East could make to cap off their offseason, and help separate themselves from the pack.
Orioles Send Mancini To The Friar’s For Paddack
The Trey Mancini trade talks have gone completely silent since the conclusion of last season’s trade deadline, and there really hasn’t been any discussion of the 2021 Comeback Player of the Year being dealt this winter. However, given the current state of both the Padres and the Orioles organizations and where they are in terms of their competitive windows, I believe that swapping Mancini for Chris Paddack could end up being very beneficial for both clubs.
Padres GM AJ Preller was extremely aggressive last offseason, going out and acquiring Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove, who are all still under contract going into the 2022 season. With Mike Clevinger set to return from Tommy John surgery, it appears that the Padres have four rotation spots already locked up due to the financial commitments made, and the prospect capital they gave up to acquire the previously mentioned names.
Along with these four, the Friar’s have three other starters that have contributed at the big league level over the past couple of seasons in Dinelson Lamet, Ryan Weathers and Chris Paddack. The Padres have a surplus of starting pitching and will have a difficult time trying to find roster spots for all the previously mentioned names.
This could make someone like Paddack disposable.
Paddack had a fantastic rookie season back in 2019, posting a 3.33 ERA, across 140.2 innings, as a 23 year old. The native Texan has been unable to replicate that same success, and has struggled mightily over the past two seasons, posting an ERA just shy of 5.00, while watching his chase rate drop from the 88th to 50th percentile, witch has led to a rise in the amount of hard contact the right-hander allows.
Due to his recent struggles, Paddack is going to have a hard time cracking the Padres rotation this spring. It may be wise for Preller to try and find a rebuilding team that is looking to move on from veteran talent and believes they can revitalize Paddack, turning him back into the top of the rotation starter he was just two seasons ago.
Acquiring Trey Mancini in return wouldn’t be a super easy fit for the Padres. After all, they’re paying Eric Hosmer 20 million dollars to man first base this season, and though Mancini does offer some outfield versatility, he only made six starts in left field last year, and entering his age 30 season, and I can’t see a team wanting that number to increase in the future. What I’m proposing is that Hosmer and Mancini form a platoon at first base. This will provide each player with more optimal matchups, and hopefully allow both to produce at a high level.
Mancini, a right-handed bat, is simply a much more productive offensive player when facing left-handed pitching, posting a slash line of .288/.363/.535 against lefties, compared to an ugly .237/.304/.374 slash against right handers last season. Though Hosmer gets on base at a similar clip against either arm, he hits for significantly less power when facing left-handed pitching, with his OPS dropping almost 80 points last season, and over 300 points in 2020 when facing a southpaw.
First base is one of the only holes in the Padres lineup, and though it’s unlikely Preller will be able to find a team willing to take on Hosmer’s contract, I believe bringing in a right-handed bat like Mancini may be a way to maximize Hosmer’s skill set, and get the most production out of him in 2022.
From Baltimore’s standpoint, Paddack is still just 26 years old, and has three years of arbitration remaining before he hits the open market. The Orioles are still in a rebuilding phase and because of this, they’ll be able to provide Paddack a spot in their starting rotation that he would be hard pressed to find in San Diego. This will give the young right-hander the innings he needs to try and find his swing and miss stuff again, and establish himself as a top of the rotation arm.
Mancini only has one year left on his contract, and at 30 years old it’s hard to imagine him being here when Baltimore’s next competitive window opens. It would be wise for the Orioles to take advantage of Mancini’s most recent bounce back season, and look to add a high upside arm that is young, controllable, and has had success at the big league level. If the Orioles are able to re-invent Paddack, combining him with John Means and Grayson Rodriguez would create a fantastic nucleus, to move forward with into their competitive window