The San Diego Padres tried to ride a heater to the Penthouse Suite. In the end, they’re walking away from the table with a couple of uninspiring vouchers to the buffet.
The Padres traded third baseman Chase Headley to the New York Yankees on Tuesday in exchange for infielder Yangervis Solarte and minor league pitcher Rafael De Paula. It’s a lackluster haul for the Padres, who could have cashed out big following the 2012 season, and a very good, low-risk pick-up for the Yankees, who might as well roll some dice within the wide-open American League East.
Headley enjoyed a monster 2012 campaign for the Friars, leading to speculation throughout last season and into this past offseason that San Diego might look to move the third baseman before he hits the open market after this year. The Padres opted not to sell high on Headley, though, instead holding onto the 30-year-old in the hopes of either him becoming a franchise cornerstone or San Diego being able to parlay him into something bigger with some sustained success. Whoops.
But let’s not harp too much on the Padres’ miscalculation. Headley is gone for spare parts, the organization is without a general manager and San Diego entered Tuesday’s action 12 games under .500 (43-55). The problems run deep and kicking the Padres when they’re down won’t do anyone any good. Plus, it’s mean. Instead, let’s focus on the Yankees’ decision to take a flier on the 2012 National League RBI king.
Headley, who finished fifth in NL MVP voting in 2012 after hitting .286 with 31 homers and 115 RBIs, had a bad 2013 season. This year has been even worse, with Headley hitting .229 with seven homers, 32 RBIs and a .296 on-base percentage through 77 games. He has stunk for the better part of two seasons, to put it lightly.
Clearly, the Yankees are buying low. And why not? While 2012 could be an aberration, it still happened, so it mustn’t be discredited completely. The Yankees might as well see if a change of scenery can get Headley back to a respectable offensive level, especially since he only cost New York a 27-year-old who signed a minor league contract over the offseason (Solarte) and a ho-hum pitching prospect with some baggage (De Paula).
The whole change of scenery thing shouldn’t be taken lightly in this situation, either. Headley is shifting from one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the majors (Petco Park) to one of the most hitter-friendly parks (Yankee Stadium). He’s a switch-hitter who could feed off taking aim at the short right field porch in New York.
Headley is a solid defender — seven defensive runs saved at the hot corner — with offensive upside. The Yankees shouldn’t expect a transcendental second half from the former All-Star, but they improved their roster for the stretch run while relinquishing very little.