Last week, the Marlins made an uninspiring trade with the Padres to add struggling starters Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to their rotation, and wound up getting even less than they bargained for. Less than four innings into his first start in Miami, Rea left the game with elbow discomfort, and is now ticketed for Tommy John surgery.
There’s buyer’s remorse, and then there’s the unshakable sense that you just did business with someone who committed a lie of omission. And in how hastily the Padres were willing to trade the Marlins back Luis Castillo–one of the prospects they received in the original deal–to take on Rea and pay for his surgery, there’s a tacit admission of something Buster Olney reports MLB is now investigating: that San Diego knew dire things about Rea’s medicals that they did not disclose to their trading partners.
Olney also reports that the deal to send Drew Pomeranz to Boston, while lacking the smoking gun of a Tommy John surgery but certainly marred by Pomeranz being suddenly completely dreadful in a Red Sox uniform, is also under investigation for the same concerns of undisclosed medical red flags.
There is, of course, one more pumpkin the Padres shipped out this season. Even removed from the blinding disaster of his first three starts, James Shields‘ strikeout rate has dropped by nearly 50 percent since arriving in Chicago, along with a very visible degradation of his stuff.
However, Shields is not mentioned in Olney’s reports, and despite his suspiciously immediate and steep decline, the Shields deal does not fit as comfortably alongside the other two. He’s 34-years-old with a massive career workload that would suggest decline was already around the corner, he’s continued to log heavy innings for the Sox (averaging over six frames per night during his last eight starts), his velocity has held up even though his whiffs have not, and the return package of Erik Johnson and Fernando Tatis Jr. along with the significant salary relief the Padres offered suggested that the Sox knew they were paying for a diminished asset.
Still, even a cursory review of the Shields trade is a natural progression of investigating the Padres trades this season, and how forthcoming A.J. Preller & Co. have been about the state of the players they have been shipping out. There likely won’t be enough there to fully redeem a pro scouting department that has stepped on far too many landmines in recent years, but there’s hope for some clarity on the deal that aligned with the demise of the 2016 White Sox and likely saddled the team with a below-average starter through 2018.
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