Looking At The Craig Kimbrel Trades: Then & Now: Did The Padres Get A Better Return?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

While there had been rumors at the Trade Deadline, did anyone really envision the Padres moving closer Craig Kimbrel less than a year after acquiring him?  That’s exactly what they did, however, sending him to Boston on Friday night.  While the trades weren’t quite an apple-to-apple comparison (San Diego took on the contract of Melvin Upton, while sending Cameron Maybin to Atlanta), you have to wonder how the team did in terms of the prospects involved in the deals.  Let’s take a look:

Prospects Traded To Acquire Kimbrel:

Matt Wisler – Right-Handed Pitcher – Viewed as a good prospect, Wisler fell flat in the Majors this past season with a 4.71 ERA. We can say that it is a complete surprise, as he had a 5.01 ERA at Triple-A prior to the deal.  A lot of the blame was put on pitching in the Pacific Coast League (1.47 HR/9), but the strikeouts were also down (7.79 K/9).  He saw that rate fall even further last season, with a 6.78 K/9 at Triple-A and a 5.94 in the Majors.  He does have strong control (2.3 BB/9 in the minors), but he also doesn’t generate many groundballs (33.6% in the Majors last season) and could be prone to the long ball.  There were warning signs prior to the deal and he certainly has a lot of growing to do in order to develop into a viable rotation option. (Grade – C+; right now he seems to be nothing more than an average MLB pitcher, at best, but there’s still a glimmer of hope he turns into more)

Jordan Paroubeck – Outfielder – The former second round pick was traded to the Dodgers in early July in exchange for an international slot bonus. He never played a single game for Atlanta and is a 21-year old who has not seen time above Rookie Ball and has just 311 PA since being drafted in 2013. (Grade – Incomplete)

Prospects Received In Trading Kimbrel:

Manual Margot – Outfielder – He likely would’ve been ranked #1 on our Red Sox Top 10 prospect list (click here to view), but the signing of Yoan Moncada knocked him down to #2. He split time between High-A and Double-A last season, hitting .276 with 6 HR and 39 SB over 439 AB while showing the ability to make consistent contact (53 K).  A centerfielder, while it was originally thought that he was at least a year away he could move quicker in San Diego.  It’s easy to argue that he’s been the best prospect involved in either of the swaps involving Kimbrel. (Grade – B+, borderline A-)

Javier Guerra – Shortstop – He took a significant step forward in his development, especially in his power, hitting 15 HR (while adding 23 doubles and 3 triples) over 434 AB at Single-A. Time will tell if he can continue to grow, or even maintain the power, but he certainly needs to improve his approach (23.5% strikeout rate).  He’s just 20-years old and needs time to develop, but he certainly put himself on the map. (Grade – B-, given the risks in the strikeout department)

Carlos Asuaje – Second Baseman/Third Baseman – He’s 24-years old and spent the entire season (495 AB) at Double-A last season. Chances are he’s the first player to arrive from the deal, but he also offers the least amount of potential given his 8 HR and 7 SB. (Grade – C-)

Logan Allen – Left-Handed Pitcher – I love this part of the acquisition and we will be taking an in-depth look at Allen shortly. That said, while he needs time he easily could emerge as a better prospect then Wisler ever was.  The eighth round pick in 2015 debuted to a 1.11 ERA and a 26-to-1 strikeout-to-walk rate over 24.1 IP. (Grade – B, but could quickly emerge as a B+ with a strong full season debut)

It’s pretty obvious, from a prospect perspective, the Padres got a significantly better return in their eight month investment.  Yes you can say that Maybin was a “prospect”, but even if you include him into the mix what they got back has more potential.  It’s easy to imagine Margot developing into a better player than Maybin.  Allen has the potential to be every bit the prospect, if not better, than Wisler (he just needs time).  Plus San Diego added Guerra, who could ultimately settle in as their starting shortstop.  It was certainly a step in the right direction as the Padres prepare for their second straight offseason overhaul.

Grading System (still in development):
Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On

Sources – MLB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference

Make sure to check out all of our Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants


  1. John M. says:

    The Braves got rid of BJ Upton in the deal. That hampered the return.

    • RY says:

      Braves also got a draft pick also in the deal that couldn’t be overlooked since that turned into Austin Riley, already one of the top position player prospect in the Braves system.

  2. Rafa says:

    Atlanta would have got a better return if they hadn’t used Kimbrel to get rid of BJ Upton’s contract. That has to be taken in consideration too in Atlanta’s side.

  3. Robert says:

    It seems harder and harder to say that ATL’s had a coherent plan over the last couple of years. First they locked up a young, talented core in a flurry of extensions, then they gutted the team in the name of a rebuild, then they signed Markakis, then they said they needed cost-effective players, so they shipped off Simmons.

    …but I think through it all the only real connecting factor isn’t the acquisition of talent, it’s the simple avoidance of salary obligations… and that couldn’t be any clearer than here in this article. If they were trying to rebuild a competitive team (and were going to axe everyone owed any money), then why include Melvin Upton in the Kimbrel trade and get half the return? Seems like a cheap front office. I’d be pretty upset if I was a fan.

    • Marty says:

      If you assumed that the plan was the same across the two regimes, that would be true, but it ignores the rather obvious fact that the plans changed quite a bit when Hart/Coppolella took over for Wren. The current plan is really pretty clear — sign as many top- and mid-tier pitching prospects as possible, put together a stellar rotation, and trade the remainder to fill other needs. In some cases that has required making tough decisions.

  4. Matt says:

    The Braves also took on Carlos Quentins $8M deal from the Padres in the Kimbrel trade.

  5. hu-ru says:

    Don’t forget that braves got Austin Riley with the pick they got from the trade.

  6. Bill says:

    Not really a fair comparison when they have to eat Upton for two more years. Braves also received a draft pick.

  7. Josh says:

    Marty, I agree. I think the Braves front office realized that they absolutely had to build a rotation to rival the Mets’ rotation, or face a decade behind the Mets’ flamethrowers. That means attacking pitching in volume and pursuing top-of-the-rotation talent. If they go after this talent in the draft and internationally, a five year rebuild isn’t unrealistic. This would close the window on the current roster, age-wise, and would mean getting everything that they think they can now for big arms down the road. These moves set this team up, like the Cubs were rebuilt, to not only have a helluva farm team, but to have the financial flexibility right when they begin to contend again. Braves fans: be patient.

  8. Rotoprofessor says:

    First off thanks for all the comments! I did say in the beginning that it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, and the change in leadership in Atlanta may have altered their approach to the trade. Unfortunately we’ll never know.

    It is fair to also include the player they received from the draft pick, but no one is going to argue that it would tip anything into their favor. The Padres got a haul back and certainly made up for their prospect binge a year ago.

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