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Your Random D-Back: Trade partner San Diego Padres

Just 4 trades. We either don’t like each other and/or we don’t like the players. Or we are both just really bad and have no reason to trade.

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The good thing about a young franchise is that history is short and the number of trades is easy to track. Because of that I have started to register all trades the Diamondbacks have made with each team and see if anything interesting pops up. It is pretty easy to find the trade history of the Diamondbacks, because Baseball Reference makes it accessible.

If you look at that page you will see that the D-Backs’ most popular trade partners are from the American League: New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox (16 trades with each team). Not far behind other AL teams like expansion buddy Tampa Bay Rays (14), Oakland A’s and Boston Red Sox (13 each). The first NL team are the Pittsburgh Pirates (15) and it probably isn’t much of a surprise that the scavengers from Atlanta are close to that number (13).

Obviously, NL West teams are not popular trade partners: you do not wish to make your competition stronger. The Giants were a partner in 6 trades, the last time in 2019 when they purchased Jake Barrett. The Rockies flipped players to Arizona 7 times, although the last time already 10 years ago, in 2012 when Matt Reynolds came to the desert. But no NL West partner was as popular as the evil empire of the west: Los Angeles Dodgers. Dodger blue and Sedona red (and purple teal) matched up in 9 occasions. The last time in May of 2022, when the Diamondbacks got Jose Herrera from the Dodgers in exchange for “cash considerations”.

Least popular trade partner: the Padres. With just 4 trades, we have never liked the Padres or we have never liked their players. And viceversa. The 4 trades makes the Padres the least liked trade partner for the Diamondbacks of all 29 potential partners, although they have to share those honours with the Texas Rangers.

First trade in 2007: Scott Hairston becomes a success number for the Padres.

The first time the friars matched up with the snakes was almost 10 years after the first inaugural season of the Diamondbacks. The Padres looked for some depth in the outfield and a right-handed bat and found their objective in Arizona. Scott Hairston wasn’t much of a hitter nor a regular for the Diamondbacks, who were very happy to send their 2001 3rd round pick to San Diego to obtain pitcher Leo Rosales in return. Rosales had a broken hand at the time he was acquired and didn’t return to action until 2008.

Rosales had some use to the Diamondbacks and made frequent appearances out of the bullpen in 2008 and 2009, but ended designated for assignment after a short and wild 2010 appearance in the big leagues. After that he’d pitch in the Mexican league and Indy ball.

Hairston clearly made sure that the Padres won the trade. He hit for a .981 OPS in the remainder of the 2007 season and helped them fight for the play-offs. His first homerun for San Diego would obviously come in a game against the Diamondbacks. He was just as useful in 2008 and 2009, but after that the lights went out although he would appear frequently in the MLB until after the 2014 season.

Nowadays, Scott Hairston is apparently some kind of a wine consultant. On the whereabouts of Leo Rosales I could not find any information.

Second trade in 2008, D-Backs squeeze some drips out of Tony Clark.

In July 2008 the Diamondbacks tried to find a cheap upgrade at 1B and ended up with former D-Back Tony Clark. Clark was obviously entrenched behind Adrian Gonzalez and was a clear platoon partner for Chad Tracy in Arizona. The platoon splits worked although both players were still miserable for Arizona, that would end the 2008 season with an 82-80 record. Clark retired after the 2009 season and...well, I guess we all know where he is right now.

The Padres got Evan Scribner out of Class A in return. Scribner was a 28th round draft pick in 2007 and actually performing rather well at the A level a year later, although the Diamondbacks clearly didn’t see enough upside going forward and decided they could part with him. Scribner appeared in 7 seasons in the major leagues, although just 1 for the Padres, in 2011, and ended up on waivers. Scribner pitched until after the 2018 season and then retired. He lives in Arizona. His brother Troy also passed through the Diamondbacks’ minor league system.

Obviously, this trade tilted the balance towards the Diamondbacks, although just slightly.

Third trade in 2012: Layne surprisingly gives value to the Padres.

Another 2007 draft pick ended up in San Diego. Tommy Layne wasn’t picked until the 26th round and had a tough time climbing up in the minor league system. He reached Triple A in 2012 and was on his way to disaster when the Padres decided to take their luck and purchased Layne. Surprisingly enough, when the Padres called him up to their big league roster in 2012 and 2013, he had good results with a 114 and 172 ERA+, although in very small sample sizes. Still, more than you can hope for a guy that probably didn’t cost a dime. He would be even better for the Boston Red Sox, who signed him as a free agent in 2014. That success lasted only until 2017 and after that he would be released and picked up by the Yankees, Red Sox again, Dodgers and Cardinals until after the 2019 season. COVID makes sure he doesn’t return to the majors, but all in all a 2.1 bWAR for a guy who was nothing else but a lottery ticket is amazing.

The Padres had nothing to lose and Layne ended up providing some value, this time the value of the trade moves towards the Padres.

Fourth and final trade in 2013: a tie.

Josh Byrnes freed the Diamondbacks from a struggling Ian Kennedy and believed the pitcher could revive his career in San Diego. The Padres got innings out of Kennedy, but had surely hoped for more for those $20,000,000 they paid in salary in the three years Kennedy was at Petco before hitting free agency. Kennedy was below average for 3 seasons in California and would pretty much continue to be so in Kansas City, except for an average 2016 season, until he found new life as a closer on the 2019 Royals. This year he is pitching in Arizona again, and will probably leaves us after this season with the same taste as almost 10 years ago.

In return the Diamondbacks got lefty reliever Joe Thatcher, who was very bad on the 2013 Diamondbacks, and average on the bad 2014 Diamondbacks. Thatcher would be moved to the Angels in July of that 2014 season (in exchange for Joey Krehbiel and minor leaguer Zach Borenstein). He pitched for the Astros in 2015 and in 2016 on a couple of minor league contracts for the Dodgers and Cubs until retirement.

The other piece the Diamondbacks got in this trade was minor leaguer Matt Stites who would end up mopping up games in the MLB in 2014 and blowing them up in 2015. After that he pitched for two more years in the minors until his release in 2017 and then moved back to Missouri.

It looks that in this fourth trade no team really won. The Padres did get a lot of innings from Kennedy, but with below average performance and at a high cost. The D-Backs didn’t get much in return but it didn’t really hurt them either.

And after that final trade, almost 10 years ago, the teams decided that their swaps hardly ever matched up. If you look at the total though, the Padres got most value out of all trades with the very first one. But probably still too meagre and that is the obvious explanation why Padres and Diamondbacks decided ten years ago that 4 trades is enough.