How The Padres Trade Is Looking To Shape The Guardians Future – Sports Illustrated

The 2020 shortened baseball season was a blip on the radar for most, especially as the world was navigating challenges outside of the diamond. But, there was a 60-game season, and for the Guardians, it was the last with the likes of players from the 2016 World Series run such as Francisco Lindor, Mike Clevinger, and Carlos Carrasco.

As for how the 2020 season panned out, the Guardians were defeated by the Yankees in the Wild Card round, but, right before the playoffs, they made a trade that would send pitching standout Mike Clevinger along with outfielder Greg Allen and pitching prospect Matt Waldron to the Padres for a suite of players in return.

For the Padres, getting Clevinger was well received as they put all their chips in and wanted to solidify their roster to make a playoff push. For the Guardians, getting three players that were ready for the show, and three that were prospects, seemed like a fair trade.

Now in 2022, four of the six players are finding themselves as regulars in the lineup, with the fifth knocking on the door in Triple-A Columbus, and the sixth in Double-A Akron as of now.

Here’s how each has made a name for themselves in the Guardians organization.

Cal Quantrill

Quantrill saw limited action in the shortened season by the time he suited up for the Guardians. In eight games and two starts with Cleveland, Quantrill had a 1.84 ERA in 14.2 innings pitched.

In 2021, Quantrill would have 22 starts and would hold a 2.89 ERA in 149.2 innings with 121 punchouts and 1.176 WHIP. He worked both as a starter and out of the pen and was a nice piece for the injury-ridden roster.

Now in 2022, Quantrill has his spot in the starting rotation and has had one outing on the year in which he allowed four hits and two runs in five innings in the Guardians 17-3 win over the Royals. His next expected start is slated for Saturday at home against the Giants.

Austin Hedges

Hedges would be in the backup role upon being acquired by the Guardians and saw very limited action in 2020 with the squad behind Roberto Pérez. In 2021, he would split time as the backup and with Pérez now with the Pirates, Hedges is the everyday starter for the Guardians.

In 2021, Hedges would account for 51 hits, 15 walks, and 10 home runs in 88 games and 312 plate appearances. But, the bat wasn’t the biggest draw for the Guardians with the veteran catcher.

Hedges defensive ability behind the dish is just the presence a young staff needs. Last season, Hedges finished fifth in all of baseball with a dWar of 1.4 and fielding percentage of 0.997 in 85 starts.

Josh Naylor

Naylor found himself in limited action in the Guardians lineup following the trade but quickly became a fan favorite with his heart, hustle, and intensity.

This was on full display in his 4-for-4 outing in game two of the Wild Card round vs the Yankees in 2020 — including a single, two doubles, and a home run — all of which came off of Gerrit Cole except one of the doubles.

Naylor’s return to the lineup in the team’s Home Opener will likely prove to be one of the feel-good stories of the season.

Owen Miller

Miller hadn’t cracked a big league roster at the time of the trade so was deemed one of the three prospects. He would get his chance in late May of 2021 and struggled to hit at the big league level.

He would consequently be sent back down to Columbus for a short stint and return with the club where he finished the year slashing .204/.243/.309 with a .551 OPS in 60 games.

This season, Miller seems to be more relaxed at the plate with his approach. Whatever work he did in the off-season is proving to be fruitful for the 25-year old through six games.

In 22 plate appearances this season Miller has 11 hits which includes five doubles, two home runs, and one walk. Although a small sample size, Miller’s strikeout rate is trending well below the previous season (26.7% vs 9.1%) and BABIP and hard hit rate are trending up.

This is the version of Miller the Guardians were hoping to see, and it has been great to see him find early success at the plate and at first through the first six games of the season.

Coming Up For The Guardians

Gabriel Arias and Joey Cantillo are the final two players Cleveland received in the transaction. Arias was with the club for Spring Training but will spend his time, at least for now, in Triple-A with the Columbus Clippers once again.

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Arias had an outstanding season last year slashing .284/.348/.454 with an OPS of .802. The middle infielder is seemingly next in line as the shortstop of the future with a high upside as a plus defender.

Cantillo is pitching for the Double-A Rubberducks and is just getting started on the year with one outing under his belt. Last season he appeared in five games with one start.

As For The Padres…

The trade has been, well, unfavorable to say the least. With the acquisition of Allen and Clevinger as plug-and-play players — Clevinger being the most important — there’s been essentially nothing to report.

Allen is no longer with the organization as he’s found a new home with the Pirates, and as for Clevinger, he’s hardly toed the rubber.

In 2020 Clevinger would pitch in just four games and 19 innings for the Padres. As for that big postseason push — he threw one inning in just one game against the Dodgers in the NLDS.

Clevinger missed the entire 2021 season due to his second Tommy John surgery and is working his way back as it stands. He will be a free agent in 2023.

And Don’t Forget…

This isn’t the first time in recent history the Padres have worked with Cleveland on a trade. Two other members of the current roster were just with their organization in 2019.

Franmil Reyes and Logan Allen were part of the three-team deal that sent them to Cleveland and moved Trevor Bauer to the Reds in return for Yasiel Puig. Cleveland also received Scott Moss, who is currently without a team, and prospect Victor Nova who has reached Triple-A this season.

Reyes has found his fit as the club’s DH and accounted for two triples, 18 doubles, and 30 home runs with a .846 OPS in 2021. He’s been off to a quiet start this season but that’s of little concern at this time.

Allen has started the season working out of the pen and could find himself as a spot starter if needed. He had spent some time in the minors as recent as last season.

No matter how you spin it, Cleveland has been on the winning end of these trades and it is proving to shape up the Guardians future in somewhat unexpected fashion. If Miller and Naylor find themselves as everyday players, and Arias joins them in the ranks soon, the trade will really go down as a notable moment of this new Guardians era.

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