The San Diego Padres have acquired outfielder Carlos Quentin from the Chicago White Sox for minor league pitchers Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez.
The White Sox continue to be perhaps the most confusing team in baseball this offseason. Despite the fact that they play in the weakest and most winnable division in baseball while possessing a team with more than enough on-field talent to compete, General Manager Kenny Williams mentioned the dreaded ‘R-word’ earlier this offseason shortly before dealing closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays for pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Then, Williams proceeded to sign starting pitcher John Danks to a long-term contract extension, seemingly going against his notion to rebuild; a statement he publicly kind of sort of retracted just after the extension was officially announced.
Now comes the Quentin trade. It’s all very confusing. It is possible, however, as Williams says, for the White Sox to both contend in the AL Central and engage in slight rebuild, these are the positives to playing in such a terrible division.
The White Sox possess the worst farm system in baseball. It’s so bad that Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus recently opined on the Up and In Podcast that Chicago’s system is as bad as the Royals’ system was great heading into 2011, in other words, historically bad. It seems as though the Santos trade and now the Quentin trade were designed to try and infuse the system with some projectable young arms.
Castro, the centerpiece of the return, was ranked the Padres’ number three prospect ahead of the 2011 season by Baseball America and now vaults to the top of the White Sox prospect list despite his stock falling slightly this past season.
Since his breakout 2008 campaign, Quentin has struggled to stay on the field averaging just 116 games per season, but he did seem to turn things around slightly in 2011 finishing with a .254/.340/.499 slash line, a 125 wRC+ and a 2.6 fWAR despite missing about 40 games with injuries. Quentin’s defense in rightfield is a liability to put it lightly and with Adam Dunn locked in at DH, there was nowhere to move him, so he became a tradable piece.
The White Sox still have a team fully capable of contending and have now bolstered their system with a couple decent prospects; something they sorely lacked just a few weeks ago. A rotation that includes Danks, Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, Philip Humber and Chris Sale paired with a lineup that includes Paul Konerko, and potential bounce back years from the likes of Dunn, Gordon Beckham, Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez should allow the White Sox to a least keep it interesting in the AL Central.
The Padres meanwhile get something they need in a potentially potent middle-of-the-order bat, but do so at a position where there are already too many potential candidates. With Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Kyle Blanks, Chris Denorfia, Jesus Guzman, and Mark Kotsay already on the depth chart in the outfield, it’s difficult to see why the Padres went after a player with such a terrible defensive reputation at a position they already had covered. It’s clear they plan on making more moves in the coming weeks as General Manager Josh Byrnes transitions into his new role with the club. Quentin, meanwhile, is reunited with Byrnes who traded him from Arizona to the White Sox while in charge of the Diamondbacks ahead of the 2008 season.
The Padres have one of the deepest systems in baseball, made all the better by the Mat Latos trade with the Reds earlier this month and giving up Castro doesn’t hurt as much as it might for teams with less talent on the farm. Still the acquisition is curious especially considering Quentin’s numbers won’t look nearly as impressive in PETCO Park as they did on the South Side of Chicago.