The San Diego Padres have been a franchise in limbo for the past couple of seasons. Previous owner John Moores’ messy divorce finally yielded an answer as to who would control the team operationally in 2009 and after a mediocre first year of the five-year rebuilding process, a new front office staff is in place. Gone is Kevin Towers as GM, as new majority owner Jeff Moorad hired 35-year-old Jed Hoyer, a Theo Epstein protege who’d been the Red Sox VP and assistant general manager until October.
The question is, will Hoyer have free reign to make the kinds of deals he envisions, or will he simply be a glorified research guy doing all the grunt work (or a puppet)?
Hoyer himself provided an answer in a recent feature by ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick:
“I think the whole idea of ‘final authority’ in 21st century baseball doesn’t exist,” Hoyer said. “You’re always going to be talking to ownership and explaining your thought process to them, and that’s the way it should be. It shouldn’t just be one person making the decision in a vacuum. It should be a collaborative effort.”
For what it’s worth, Moorad actually fired the first salvo, approving the trade that sent Jake Peavy to the White Sox, but it was Hoyer who replaced Epstein in the Red Sox front office during Theo’s 44-day hiatus in 2005, and was instrumental in the Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell deal.
Which leads us to the matter of what it is that they need. As Crasnick points out in his column, the Padres have a solid crop of young talent, but none that you’d consider impact players; which in turn begs the question: Should Hoyer trade Adrian Gonzalez for the best package available? We’ve certainly heard plenty of chatter with the Red Sox and White Sox being two of the teams linked to possible trades.
Gonzalez is scheduled to make $4.75 in 2010 and the Friars have a club option for $5.5 in 2011, which are relatively affordable figures, but beyond that, and assuming the 27-year-old first-baseman keeps it up, he’ll command a hefty raise.
If Gonzalez were to sign an extension in the next 12-15 months, the Padres have to ensure their farm system is deep enough to build around him, and they would have to bargain for a home-team discount considering a $15-20M, 5-year or so deal would eat up a huge chunk of their budget beyond 2011.
As of now, the Padres have a projected salary of about $24M, which allows for very little free-agent room (unless it’s of the veteran kind), but Moorad has expressed his willingness to get the payroll to somewhere near $70 – just not quite yet.
In a nutshell, the Padres need to continue developing young talent, and if Hoyer does indeed trade Gonzalez, he’s got to land two or three major-league ready players.