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January 3, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Quentin Trade Thoughts

by Daniel Rathman

New Year’s Eve is supposed to be a holiday, but don’t tell that to Josh Byrnes and Kenny Williams, who—for the second time—engineered a trade involving Carlos Quentin. For the White Sox, Saturday’s deal is merely a small step in the rebuilding process. For the Padres, though, it seems to suggest future moves on the horizon.

As R.J. Anderson noted, Quentin is a curious pickup for the Padres, because Petco Park will sap him of his greatest asset (power) while exposing one of his biggest weaknesses (fielding). Manager Bud Black expects to use Quentin as his everyday left fielder and cleanup hitter, but the 29-year-old will be a free agent after the 2012 season, so he does little to help San Diego’s long-term hopes.

Moreover, the addition of Quentin could create a roster headache for Black and Byrnes. With the outfield projecting to have Cameron Maybin in center and Will Venable platooning with Chris Denorfia in right, there are few spots remaining for the Padres’ bevy of youngsters. Kyle Blanks, Anthony Rizzo, James Darnell and the recently acquired Yonder Alonso all may be deserving of big-league looks either on Opening Day or sometime during the coming season. Another trade or two is necessary to give the Padres the flexibility to promote them.

Rizzo was viewed as a trade candidate as soon as San Diego got Alonso in the Mat Latos deal, and Quentin is likely to be flipped before the Trade Deadline. The former could make sense for any of the teams that need help at first base but can’t afford Prince Fielder. The latter may settle with an AL contender that could hide Quentin’s defense and limit his injury risk by using him as designated hitter.

Williams has been the busiest GM in the league of late, moving Quentin as well as relievers Sergio Santos and Jason Frasor, and extending John Danks. Byrnes is a good bet to usurp that title in the coming weeks.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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