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The 411 On Potential Jeff Samardzija Trade Partners: Padres

The Cubs' front office should be very familiar with the Padres' system. If the Padres decide they want to go for it in the next 2 years, the Padres could be a great fit in a trade for Jeff Samardzija.

Austin Hedges, above, is one of the best catching prospects in the minors.
Austin Hedges, above, is one of the best catching prospects in the minors.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Need

The Padres hung in the playoff race last year for a bit before the white hot Dodgers put them out of it by the trade deadline. The Padres seem to have some rotation depth at the four and five spots, but they have a gap between Andrew Cashner and the rest of their rotation. Jeff Samardzija could be an answer to those question marks.

The Prospects

Here are the articles I'm digging from:

Baseball America's Top 10 Padres Prospects (12/4/13)

Fangraphs' Top 10 Padres Prospects (12/19/13)'s Top 20 Padres Prospects

The Padres' system is very deep and the top end seems to fit the Cubs' needs perfectly: Pitching quality and depth, outfielders and an elite catcher. Again, we'll start with the pitchers.

Matt Wisler, RHP, Double-A: 105 IP, 8.83 K/9, 2.31 BB/9, 3.00 ERA, 2.93 FIP

Wisler is a surefire Top-100 prospect in baseball and he'll probably be in the Top 50 on several lists. He throws a low 90s fastball with good life, a plus slider, an average changeup and a below average curve ball. His control is considered excellent, as evidenced by his low BB/9, and he dominates right handed hitters. For Wisler to reach his ceiling of a No. 2 pitcher, he'll need to work on his secondaries and improve his performance against lefties.

Max Fried, LHP, Low-A: 118⅔ IP, 7.58 K/9, 4.25 BB/9, 3.49 ERA, 3.90 FIP

Fried is another pitcher who figures to find his way into a lot of Top 50 lists this offseason. He throws a good curveball, but needs some work on both his fastball and changeup. What services seem to like is that he still can put weight on his frame, so many see his fastball improving as he gets older and he's already shown considerable improvement in his changeup. Scouts like his ability to keep the ball down, but he tends to nibble, leading to a high walk rate. If he can improve his command and add some velocity to his fastball, he has a ceiling of a No. 2 pitcher.

Casey Kelly, LHP, Triple-A: Did not pitch, Tommy John surgery

Kelly is a former Red Sox farmhand acquired from Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Before his injury, he was considered a Top-100 prospect by most and was considered major league ready (in fact, he had six starts in the big leagues with the Padres). If Kelly can rebound from his injury, he's a possible No. 2 with a plus sinking fastball, potential plus curve ball and average change. 2014 figures to be a bit of a recovery year for Kelly, but his excellent athleticism could mean a quick bounce back from his surgery. He'll need to improve his secondary pitches if he's going to hit his ceiling.

Burch Smith, RHP, Triple-A: 61 IP, 9.59 K/9, 2.51 BB/9, 3.39 ERA, 2.81 FIP

Smith got a taste of the big leagues last year, but I've decided not to show you those numbers because they're terrifying. Smith throws a good fastball to go with a solid changeup, but he needs serious work on his curveball. He needs to improve his command but if everything comes together he's a potential No. 3 or No. 4 starter who could see the big leagues soon.

Joe Ross, RHP, Low-A: 122⅓ IP, 5.81 K/9, 2.94 BB/9, 3.75 ERA, 3.76 FIP

Ross is a potential mid-rotation guy who throws an excellent fastball and a good slider. He's seen as a ground ball pitcher and his athleticism gives hope that he can improve his secondary pitches. He'll need to develop his changeup and improve his stamina if he hopes to be part of a big league rotation. He also had a bout with shoulder tendinitis in 2012 that could scare teams off.

Keyvius Sampson, RHP, Double -A: 103⅓ IP, 9.58 K/9, 2.87 BB/9, 2.26 ERA, 3.25 FIP; Triple-A: 38 IP, 5.92 K/9, 6.87 BB/9, 7.11 ERA, 5.96 FIP

Sampson dominated Double-A only to get absolutely lit up upon his promotion to Triple-A. He throws a mid-90s fastball to go with a solid slider and an average changeup. The issue is his inconsistent command, as you can see from his numbers at triple-A. Some see No. 3 upside while others project him as a high leverage reliever.

Robbie Erlin, LHP, MLB: 54⅔ IP, 6.59 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, 4.12 ERA, 3.83 FIP; Triple-A: 99.1 IP, 7.61 K/9, 3.08 BB/9, 5.07 ERA, 4.01 FIP

Erlin spent a decent amount of time in the big leagues last year and projects as a No. 4. He throws a sneaky good fastball, solid curve, solid change and he's also working on a cutter. He's able to make all of those play up with good command and he's particularly effective against lefties.

Austin Hedges, C, Double-A: 67 AB, .224 AVG, .297 OBP, .269 SLG, .259 wOBA; High-A: 233 ABs, .270 AVG, .343 OBP, .425 SLG, .341 wOBA

Hedges is arguably the best catching prospect in the minors and is a lock Top-50 player. His best asset is his defense, which some call the best in the minors. What is a little bit behind is his bat, but many think he'll eventually develop power to go along with his ability to make consistent, good contact. Even if he doesn't blossom into a plus offensive player, his glove looks like it'll be enough to make him an all-star caliber player.

Rymer Liriano, OF, Did Not Play: Tommy John surgery

Liriano is a potential five-tool player whose development faced a setback when he missed the entire 2013 season due to Tommy John. He profiles as a strong corner outfielder and has an OK bat, but needs to work on his pitch recognition and tap into his raw power more. Liriano needs time to refine his tools, so he should start the 2014 season back in Double-A. The upside here is a potential all-star corner outfielder if he can put it all together.

Hunter Renfroe, OF, Low-A: 72 ABs, .212 AVG, .268 OBP, .379 SLG, .291 wOBA; Short Season-A: 111 ABs, .308 AVG, .333 OBP, .510 SLG, .391 wOBA

The Padres drafted Renfroe in the first round (13th overall) in the 2013 draft and see him as a future corner outfielder with plus power. He needs to improve his plate discipline and make more consistent contact for him to tap into that power. He could be a solid right fielder with good range and a good arm.

Others to keep an eye on:

Joe Wieland, Adys Portillo, Zach Eflin, Reymond Fuentes, Walker Wieckel and Yeison Asencio

The Deals

Womp Womp:

Robbie Erlin, Joe Ross, Keyvius Sampson and Reymond Fuentes

Burch Smith, Robbie Erlin, Zach Eflin and Yeison Asencio

That's about right:

Matt Wisler, Robbie Erlin and Joe Ross

Matt Wisler, Max Fried and Reymond Fuentes for Jeff Samardzija, James Russell and Christian Villanueva

Holy &%$#!

Any 2 of Wisler/Fried/Kelly/Hedges for Samardzija

Any 1 of Wisler/Fried/Kelly/Hedges with Robbie Erlin, Burch Smith, Zach Eflin and Reymond Fuentes

The Fit

The Padres have a lot of possibilities for their rotation, but few of them are known entities. Their low payroll makes cost controlled young players all the more valuable, but it also makes a relatively cheap, proven starter like Samardzija valuable too. The Padres have a ton of pitching depth that the Cubs would no doubt drool over, but I don't think the Cubs are going to be interested in a quantity deal like the ones listed in the "Womp Womp" section. The Cubs are going to want at least one of Hedges/Fried/Kelly/Wisler and then some other pitching pieces on top of that. The Padres are going to have to decide they want to go for it in the next two years and be comfortable giving up one of those players and some of their depth to make it work. The Padres parting with some of their depth seems reasonable, but getting the guys with No. 2 or No 3 upside could be a challenge.

Feel free to tear my proposed deals to shreds in the comments and create your own.