Okay, let’s cut to the chase: The Dodgers could use a middle infielder and a center-fielder. Well, according to Dennis Lin of The Athletic, the Padres are open to trading two guys who happen to play those positions.
With the caveat that Peter Seidler owns the team, the Padres do not appear keen on significantly increasing their offseason expenditure, even though they need more starting pitching — preferably controllable beyond 2023 — and more all-around depth. Their wealth of up-the-middle talent, meanwhile, has potentially made two of their cost-controlled regulars expendable. Could San Diego’s next trade involve center fielder Trent Grisham or expected starting second baseman Ha-Seong Kim?
Publicly, the Padres have downplayed the possibility. …
Industry sources, however, have indicated that San Diego is open to discussing either player — Grisham, in particular.
Let’s look at the Grisham/Kim side of things first, then we’ll dig into whether it would be worth what the Dodgers would have to give up.
Kim is a very good defensive shortstop who is currently slated to play second base for San Diego because they signed a lesser defensive (but higher-paid) shortstop in Xander Bogaerts. Shifting Kim to second also shifts Jake Cronenworth, a very good defensive second baseman, to first base. Simply put, San Diego has a ton of infielders, poorly deployed.
Grisham is a legitimately great defensive center-fielder who hit remarkably poorly in 2022, but he posted a 111 OPS+ in 2020-21, so he’s not that far removed from being a very good ballplayer. Throw in the fact that the Padres need a spot in the outfield for Fernando Tatis Jr. to play, and Grisham is expendable.
The Dodgers would probably benefit from acquiring either player, although probably not both, simply because neither is likely to be great offensively. Grisham is less expensive (expected to make $2.6 million in arbitration, compared to the $7 million Kim is owed in 2023), has more team control (three years compared to two for Kim), and has a significantly higher ceiling (Grisham is a Gold Glove center-fielder who has been a good hitter, while Kim is a good defensive shortstop who had a 107 OPS+ in a year everyone agrees he’s unlikely to replicate at the plate). If L.A. were choosing one of these two players to pursue, I’d vote strongly for Grisham.
With that said, the Padres are looking for starting pitching. Lin’s article talks about Pablo Lopez of the Marlins, and the Dodgers are unlikely to trade anyone near Lopez’s level within their division. Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin aren’t going anywhere, especially in a trade to San Diego. The same can be said for top prospects Bobby Miller and Gavin Stone.
Now, if the Padres wanted to bet on upside, I could see Los Angeles doing a package centered around Ryan Pepiot or Michael Grove, who both have big-league starting experience but are coming off less-than-stellar debut years. Pepiot for Grisham straight-up would be an interesting challenge trade for both sides, but San Diego probably wouldn’t go for that.
That’s where it all gets tricky, trading within the division. It’s one thing to trade away a player who might get much better; it’s another thing to trade a player who might get much better against you. And when both teams have that same worry, it’s probably not going to get done.
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