Padres Make Another Trade, Acquire Joe Musgrove From Pirates In Three-Team Deal
There’s going for it, and then there’s going for it. The Padres are going for it. This offseason alone, San Diego has fortified its rotation with Blake Snell from the Rays and Yu Darvish from the Cubs. The Padres also signed Korean shortstop Ha-Seong Kim to a four-year deal.
Those three are in addition to the haul they added at last season’s trade deadline, which included Mike Clevinger—who will miss the 2021 after having Tommy John surgery—and catcher Austin Nola, among others.
On Monday, they struck again, acquiring righthander Joe Musgrove from the Pirates in a three-team deal that sent Joey Lucchesi to the Mets and four prospects—headed by No. 8 prospect Hudson Head—to Pittsburgh. The Pirates will receive catcher Endy Rodriguez from the Mets in exchange for Lucchesi to net them a fifth prospect in the deal. The Athletic's Dennis Lin and the San Diego Union-Tribune's Kevin Acee were first to report the players involved.
It’s a homecoming for Musgrove, who grew up in San Diego and was drafted out of Grossmont High, about 20 minutes east of Petco Park, in 2011.
Joe Musgrove, RHP
Musgrove gives the Padres the established starter they needed to round out their rotation. The 6-foot-5 righthander posted a 3.86 ERA over eight starts in 2020 with the highest strikeout rate (12.5 K/9) of his career, although he also had the highest walk rate (3.6 BB/9) of his career. Despite modest fastball velocity that averages 92-93 mph, Musgrove garners swings and misses and soft contact with the best of them. His average exit velocity of 85.1 mph in 2020 was in the 93rd percentile of big leaguers, and his 33% strikeout rate was in the 90th percentile. His four-seam fastball plays up with an excellent spin rate and he keeps batters guessing with a varied arsenal that includes a sinker, slider, curveball, changeup and cutter. His slider in particular is a wipeout, swing-and-miss pitch against righties and his curveball neutralizes lefties. Musgrove missed a month in 2020 with right triceps inflammation, but he showed his durability with 170.1 innings in 2019. He is under team control for two more seasons and will slot into the Padres rotation with Snell, Darvish, Dinelson Lamet and Chris Paddack. In the event Lamet, who had a platelet-rich plasma injection after missing the postseason, is unable to pitch in 2021, the deal gives them much-needed cover with another durable starter.
Hudson Head, OF
Head, the Padres’ third-round pick in 2019, is a twitchy, dynamic athlete who played quarterback for his high school and had some of the fastest bat speed in the Padres system. He has a lot of movement in his swing and some evaluators question if it will hinder him against better pitching, but he has the bat speed to get to velocity even with all his extra movement. Head has surprising plus raw power in his lean frame and could grow into more. He has an extremely aggressive approach he will need to tone down and is similarly aggressive in the outfield, where he shows the speed and athleticism to play center field but is prone to making poor decisions because he plays so fast, especially in regards to when to dive. Head’s pure athleticism and bat speed give him a chance to become an everyday center fielder as long as he makes the requisite adjustments with experience. He should make his full-season debut at Low-A in 2021.
Omar Cruz, LHP
Cruz was set to rank as the Padres No. 23 prospect and was moving up the list after their bevy of offseason trades. The crafty lefthander sat 85-86 mph as a 17-year-old when the Padres purchased his rights from the Mexican League’s Mexico City franchise and has since ticked up to 89-93 mph. He rode that velocity bump to a 2.76 ERA in 10 starts at Low-A Fort Wayne in 2019 and impressed during instructional league in 2020. Cruz’s fastball plays up with carry through the zone and gets swings and misses despite modest velocity. His main weapon is a big, overhand curveball that sits in the mid 70s but should add power as he gets stronger. He rounds out his arsenal with a changeup that shows average potential and ties it all together with average control. Cruz has the makings of a back-of-the-rotation starter as long his stuff continues to progress. He should open 2021 at High-A and is a strong competitor who has a chance to move up quickly.
David Bednar, RHP
Bednar was a 35th-round pick out of Lafayette College who enjoyed a Cinderella rise to the majors, although success has eluded him in the big leagues with a 6.75 ERA in 17 career relief appearances. Bednar’s fastball sits 95-96 mph and his upper-80s splitter is his primary secondary. Bednar is at his best when he keeps his stuff down in the zone, but has too often left both his fastball and splitter up over the middle of the plate in the majors and been hit hard as a result. If the Pirates can help him stay out of the middle, he has a chance to emerge as a solid relief option.
Drake Fellows, RHP
The Padres’ sixth-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2019, Fellows has swing-and-miss stuff but also shoddy control. He finished fifth in the Southeastern Conference in strikeouts as the Commodores' Friday night starter as a junior but also led the conference in wild pitches and hit batters. Fellows works with a low-90s sinker and a plus slider that gets swings and misses. He’ll need to improve his command and fringe-average changeup to remain a starter, but his sinker and slider give him a chance to make it as a reliever even if they don’t get better.
Endy Rodriguez, C
Rodriguez ranked as the Mets No. 20 prospect after a strong showing in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2019 and at instructional league in 2020. He has played the outfield, first base and catcher but is settling in to an established role behind the plate with good flexibility, strong hands and improved technique. He has an average arm. The switch-hitting Rodriguez has good balance at the plate, a feel for contact and recognizes pitches. He still has a slender build and his offensive projection hinges on how he matures physically, but an average hitter with double-digit home run power isn’t out of the question. Rodriguez has promise, but he’s very far away and still has work to do to stick behind the plate. He will make his full-season debut at Low-A in 2021.
Now Contending, The Padres Have Traded The Equivalent Of A 40-Man Roster
November 2019 marked a pivot in the Padres direction. Since then, they've made a bevy of trades reshaping their roster.
Joey Lucchesi, LHP
Lucchesi’s funky delivery has earned him most of the attention since he made his debut in 2018. The big lefthander won’t light up a radar gun and his control is just average, but he’s been durable and productive when given the chance. He went 18-19, 4.14 in 56 starts for the Padres in 2018-19, providing roughly league average production while turning in nearly 300 innings. He fell out of favor with the Padres as other, harder-throwing pitchers made their way to the majors and made only three appearances in 2020. Lucchesi’s fastball ranges from 89-92 mph and sits at 90. He has both a traditional curveball in the upper 70s and his famous “churve”, a changeup that looks like a breaking ball out of his hand. Lucchesi relies on deception and mixing his pitches to succeed, but he’s shown he can do it. He provides the Mets valuable rotation depth and will remain under team control for four more seasons.