The San Diego Padres, more a curiosity than a contender to start August, will exit the month with a stunningly revamped roster equipped to win the World Series now – and for many years to come.
A feverish three-day run of acquisitions hit its apex Monday morning when the Padres acquired a legitimate No. 1 starter, Mike Clevinger, in a nine-player trade with the Cleveland Indians, the seventh and most significant player added to a club that’s won 10 of its last 13 matches and is a playoff lock in this pandemic-shortened season.
The teams announced the trade Monday afternoon.
Certainly, the Padres are well-suited to compete in 2020’s 16-team playoff tournament, perhaps to even threaten the Los Angeles Dodgers, the prohibitive favorites to make the MLB finals this year.
But in acquiring Clevinger, the iconoclastic 29-year-old fireballer who fell out of favor in Cleveland after an ill-timed night out amid a global pandemic, the Padres now have a legitimate ace under club control through the 2022 season.
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That’s when the Padres’ core of shortstop Fernando Tatis, $300 million third baseman Manny Machado and a cadre of young pitching talent was anticipated to coalesce.
Yet a 21-15 start – including a recent run where the club crushed grand slams in four consecutive games – changed the narrative significantly.
So in came reliever Trevor Rosenthal from Kansas City, first baseman/DH Mitch Moreland from Boston, catchers Jason Castro (Los Angeles Angels) and Austin Nola (Seattle) and relievers Dan Altavilla and the injured Austin Adams from the Mariners, too.
The coup de grace came just hours before Monday’s trade deadline: Clevinger, who averaged 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings the past two seasons and has a high-octane three-pitch mix worthy of a No. 1 starter and possible playoff ace.
He was available in part because of a night out in Chicago he enjoyed with fellow starter Zach Plesac; both were caught returning to the Indians’ team hotel just days after MLB instituted tighter protocols to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
At 21-13, the Indians committed the almost unprecedented move of dealing a frontline starter at the trade deadline while tied for first place, with the Chicago White Sox. With All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor a free agent after next campaign, a larger revamp could be ahead, though the Indians evidently can compete this year and next minus Clevinger.
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