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July 23, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Padres Lock Up Quentin

by R.J. Anderson

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SAN DIEGO PADRES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Agree to a three-year, $27 million extension with OF-R Carlos Quentin. [7/22]

When the Padres acquired Quentin, I wrote:

Calling the Padres’ acquisition of Quentin a precursor to another move—either now or later—is a safe bet. But the real action is on how many times Quentin causes Arizona fans to curse him and Byrnes’s name in the interim.

While technically a move, an extension is not what I had in mind.

According to Jon Heyman, who broke the news, San Diego compares Quentin to Josh Willingham, Michael Cuddyer, and Edwin Encarnacion: three bat-first players that received recent three-year deals. The comparisons work; since 2009, Quentin has a better true average than Cuddyer and Encarnacion while finishing about 20 points behind Willingham.

There’s no denying Quentin’s offensive ability, but defensive and durability concerns mitigate some of that offensive value. Quentin has appeared in more than 120 games in a season twice. Even if he plays in the Padres’ remaining 65 games this season, he would have 105 appearances on the year. Quentin can help a ballclub win; he’s just more unreliable than the typical hitter.

San Diego’s reasoning for extending Quentin seems two-fold. For one, they have a new incoming ownership. Nothing boosts a new owner’s image like spending money and re-signing the team’s best players. For two, Quentin makes the Padres better. San Diego did have seven outfielders among Kevin Goldstein’s preseason top 20 list but only one in the top 10 (Rymer Liriano), so it’s hard to bank on the others becoming starters.

That means the two nits to pick with this extension are the opportunity cost and the no-trade clause. It’s doubtful that San Diego could have signed a batter of Quentin’s quality at a similar cost this offseason. As the old parlance goes: the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t—even if you’ve only known that devil for 40 games. —R.J. Anderson

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

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