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Padres, Mariners engage in massive player swap

The San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners made a megadeal today, with DH/3B Ty France, OF Taylor Trammell, RP Andres Munoz, and C Luis Torrens going to the Seattle Mariners and C Austin Nola, RP Dan Altavilla, and RP Austin Adams being sent to the San Diego Padres.

After a slow start when he was called up in 2019, Ty France has got off to a torrid start this year, slashing .314/.375/.510 with two home runs and a .380 wOBA for a 142 wRC+ in the 56 plate appearances he has gotten so far this season. There is a little concern, as his BABIP of .412 is absolutely unsustainable, but his xwOBA of .382 implies his breakout is for real. France will most likely spend his time DHing in Seattle, replacing the recently traded Daniel Vogelbach, as glovework is the 26-year-old’s biggest weakness.

Taylor Trammell, the prospect the Padres got after trading Frammil Reyes, Logan Allen, and Victor Nova to the Cleveland Indians, looked to be the franchise’s future star center fielder. But with Trent Grisham’s breakout, the former Reds prospect was blocked. Trammell’s best asset is his defense, potentially being the second-best defensive center fielder in the minors behind the Braves Christian Pache. A lot of it has to do with his speed, which helps him leg out extra-base hits on the offensive side of the ball. Stretching singles into doubles and doubles into triples is how Trammell gets most of his SLG, as he hit just 10 home runs in his 514 plate appearances in AA last year. Trammell has shown a solid eye at the plate, never having a BB% lower than 12% in any minor league season in which he’s had at least 100 PAs. His speed and plate discipline give him a decent offensive floor, but his lack of home run power at the current moment puts a cap on how productive he can be. It will be interesting to see how the Mariners treat Trammell, as the Mariners have their emerging star center fielder in Kyle Lewis. Like I said before, Trammell’s best asset is his glove, so the Mariners may move Lewis to a corner spot to get the most out of Trammell.

Andres Munoz popped monocles last year when he put up a 3.17 FIP in 23 innings at the major league level as a 20-year-old, but the excitement he provided took a hit when he got Tommy John Surgery earlier this year. Should his arm get back to the level it was before the surgery, Munoz should continue to light up the radar gun as he regularly sits 97-100 and has touched 104. His control and secondary pitch, a slider, lag behind, but that’s to be expected when you throw one of the best fastballs on the planet. Munoz’s best career BB% came in his stint at AAA in 2019, where he had an 8.8 BB%. His slider isn’t plus, but its mere existence is good for Munoz as it means he doesn’t need to just rely on velocity and hitters can’t just sit fastball. His slider and control need to improve if he’s going to be the successor to Edwin Diaz, but if neither improve he could be a high leverage arm if you can put up with the walks. What is most important for Munoz though is to come back healthy. His value is in his heater. If his heater degrades, he will most likely not provide anything at the major league level.

Luis Torrens was one of the best hitters in AA back in 2019 as a 23-year-old, slashing .300/.373/.500 with 15 home runs in 397 plate appearances for a .386 wOBA and 142 wRC+, and it came with a very sustainable BABIP of .331. He, unfortunately, hasn’t been able to put it together at the major league level, slashing just .176/.256/.233 with no home runs and just a .213 wOBA and a 27 wRC+. However, that has a lot to due with him having just 168 plate appearances at the major league level, 139 of which came in 2017 when he hadn’t appeared in a game at even High-A before. Being blocked by the defensive superstar Austin Hedges and top prospect Fransico Mejia didn’t help, but Torrens never being good with the glove didn’t help. He was never bad, but he never had a plus season using baseball prospectus’s FRAA. Again, that changed in 2019 when he had a season worth 3.3 FRAA, a career-best. Now that he’s been traded to the Mariners, Torrens has a chance to get an everyday role with Austin Nola being traded to the Padres.

Now, onto the players the Padres are receiving.

Austin Nola, after spending eight years in the minor leagues, finally got a chance to show off what he could do at the major league level in 2019. And he took full advantage of the opportunity. Nola hit the ground running, slashing .269/.342/.454 with 10 home runs in 267 plate appearances for a .337 wOBA and 114 wRC+. He was also solid defensively, posting a 3.2 adjusted FRAA in his time behind the plate. His FRAA is adjusted because he only spent 38.2 innings behind the plate in 2019. Nola has good positional versatility, logging over 400 innings at first base and over 100 at second that year. He’s mostly stayed behind the plate this year, but that positional versatility is great for a player you want in the lineup every day, as Nola has kicked his offensive production into another gear this year. Currently, he is slashing .306/.373/.531 with five home runs in the 110 plate appearances he’s had this year for a .380 wOBA and a 145 wRC+. It’s not due to luck either, as Nola’s BABIP of .325 in 2020 is the same as his BABIP in 2019, .325. This year, Nola is hitting the ball harder. His average exit velocity of 90.2 MPH is 3 MPH harder than his 2019 mark of 87.4. He goes to a team that needs production from the 2 position, and badly. The Padres’ catchers so far this year have been worth -0.3 fWAR, tied for 26th worst in MLB. By acquiring Nola, they get a player who is strong on both sides of the ball for a position they are in dire need of quality play from. Nola is also under team control for a long time, only becoming arbitration-eligible in 2023 and hitting free agency in 2026. He is quite old, having spent 30 years on the earth, but he can always move to first base full time if needed.

In the acquisition of Austin Adams, the Padres get one of the biggest definitions of wildly effective in baseball. In Adams 38 career major league innings, he has a K% of 38.0%, a BB% of 16.3%, and a FIP of 3.55. There are signs of improvement from Adams, as in his most recent season with the Mariners in 2019 he struck out 40.8% of batters while only walking 12.3% of batters for a 3.12 FIP. Unfortunately, due to injuries, he has yet to make an appearance this year. But when he does get healthy and take the field, he should be a welcome presence for a Padres bullpen that has been struggling.

Dan Altavilla, like Adams, is very wild. Unfortunately, unlike Adams, he hasn’t been very effective in his 106 career innings in the majors. With a 25.8% K rate and a 12.1% BB rate, Altavilla hasn’t struck out enough batters to make up for his high walk numbers. His career FIP of 4.46 isn’t terrible, being equivalent to a 104 FIP-, but he’s not the kind of reliever you want to rely on. Nevertheless, the Padres need as much bullpen help as possible. Average to slightly below average is, unfortunately, an upgrade for them at the moment.

What I think is notable about this trade is, while it may seem like the Padres are going all in this season with them trading three prospects with high potential, none of the players San Diego got were on expiring contracts. Nola, like I previously mentioned, is under team control for six more years. Adams becomes a free agent in 2025, and Altavilla will hit the market in 2024. The Padres get three players that will help them in their quest for the franchise’s first championship for a couple of years, and the Mariners get four strong players to help their rebuilding efforts.

Elizabeth Tsai

A lifelong baseball fan, I've supported the Oakland A's through good times and bad. A numbers geek, I love diving into the stats to find any fascinating stories not obvious to the basic eye test. Proud transgender woman

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