After making three weekend deals to acquire Mitch Moreland, Trevor Rosenthal and Jason Castro, San Diego’s front office continued their tear through the trade market. In a seven-player swap with the Mariners, the Padres acquired three players: catcher Austin Nola and right-handers Dan Altavilla and Austin Adams. In return, the Mariners received the other four: infielder Ty France, outfielder Taylor Trammell, righty Andres Muñoz and catcher Luis Torrens.
This doozy of a deal includes a ton of moving parts, and the Padres aren’t even closing up shop yet, as they’re at least still in talks with the Indians about Mike Clevinger.
For now, though, they continue to close up any holes the team might have had coming in. As I wrote earlier today, the Padres felt they had a weakness at catcher, and Castro helped to plug it. But Nola is an even bigger add for them, as he not only can play behind the plate, but also at first base, second base, third base and in the outfield, all spots the Mariners have put him at over his short big league career to date.
Perhaps most impressive about Nola is that, not only does he provide excellent versatility, he has also shown to be a well above-average bat. In 110 plate appearances this year, he’s hitting .306/.373/.531 with five homers and a 145 wRC+. Something of a late bloomer, Nola didn’t make his big league debut until last summer, at the age of 29. But since that time, all he’s done is hit, and in 377 career plate appearances, he’s put up a 123 wRC+.
That is huge for the Padres, which, into Sunday, have seen their catchers hit a collective .146/.228/.291 this season. Their 45 wRC+ as a group ranks 25th in the majors. But now, they’ve completely revamped the position and almost have a glut of catchers, with Castro, Austin Hedges, Francisco Mejia and Nola all on the roster. (Mejia is currently on the Injured List, but his return is expected soon.) There has been some speculation that San Diego may look to deal either Hedges or Mejia in a trade before today’s 4 p.m. deadline.
In addition to Nola, the Padres acquired two additional relievers. The 27-year-old Altavilla is a fastball-slider guy who will slide into the middle of the bullpen. He has a 7.71 ERA and a 5.88 FIP in 11 2⁄3 innings this season, but has been a more league-average option in a much larger sample over parts of five seasons, with his 4.08 ERA (96 ERA-) and 4.46 FIP (104 FIP-).
Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Adams presents as a more interesting option, with his 40.8 percent strikeout rate and 12.3 percent walk rate across 32 innings last season. He did so with a mid-90s fastball that touched as high as 97.8 mph last June and a hard slider that generates 65 percent more horizontal break than average when adjusted for velocity. Adams hasn’t yet pitched in 2020, as he’s still recovering from last September’s knee surgery. He has been throwing at the team’s alternate training site, and is expected back soon.
What’s interesting about the players the Padres acquired in this trade is they are all under contract beyond this year. Altavilla, Adams and Nola aren’t free agents until after the 2023, 2024 and 2025 seasons, respectively. While the trade certainly helps the Padres contend this season, it also provides them the exact same depth and flexibility for at least the next three seasons as well. That’s a huge bonus, and it’s likely why Seattle’s return was so extensive.
In the return, Trammell is certainly the eye-popping name here, since he is a former 1st round pick who was flipped to San Diego in the three-team trade involving both Trevor Bauer and Yasiel Puig. Ranked as the 68th best prospect in baseball, per FanGraphs, Trammell profiles as a speed and on-base percentage type of player and drew a comparison to Brett Gardner in the report. In 514 plate appearances in both the Reds’ and Padres’ systems last year, he hit .234/.340/.349 with 10 homers and 20 stolen bases.
Alongside Trammell, Jerry Dipoto also acquired three players with major league experience. France is an all-around-the-infield-type who has big league time at first, second and third. The 26-year-old has swung a hot bat this season, slashing .309/.377/.491, but is likely buoyed by a sky-high .395 BABIP. (It is worth noting that his underlying expected stats have been excellent, however.) Muñoz is a 21-year-old reliever who is currently out for the season after having Tommy John surgery, but his stuff might be unmatched by just about any pitcher in baseball: a fastball that averages 99.9 mph (it hit 102.8) and a wipeout slider. Torrens has been one of San Diego’s attempted answers at catcher this year, but he projects as a backup option behind the dish long-term.
Ultimately, this is another deal to shore up some of the issues San Diego has identified, and I’d wager that they did pretty well here. While it may be tough to part with Trammell and Muñoz, they got an underrated all-around player in Nola and a top relief arm who can contribute this year in Adams. It’s no secret that the Padres are going all-in on this season, and this trade helps them not only accomplish that goal in 2020, but beyond.
Devan Fink is a sophomore at Dartmouth College and a Contributor at Beyond The Box Score. Previous work of his can be found at FanGraphs and his own personal blog, Cover Those Bases. You can follow him on Twitter @DevanFink.