Trade, non-tenders rework Padres roster

The San Diego Padres began Wednesday by trading a pair of players they were unlikely to tender contracts to Oakland for two left-handed pitchers, then finished the day’s roster turn-over by choosing not to bring back three players who spent much of the year in Triple-A.

In the morning trade, the club sent Yonder Alonso and Marc Rzepczynski – a pair of players with tenuous claims on 40-man roster spots and likely to make about $5M combined in 2016 – to the A’s for former first-rounder Drew Pomeranz and High-A reliever Jose Torres.

Torres, 22, originally signed with Oakland out of Venezuela in 2010 and was just added to the 40-man roster despite making only a brief appearance with Stockton at the end of the 2015 season. Our partners at Oakland Clubhouse have written extensively about the live-armed lefty, who requested the move to the bullpen last spring.

Steve Connelly, Torres’s pitching coach in Beloit this past year and Vermont in 2014, recently praised his work ethic and talked about mechanics in an interview with Melissa Lockard. The results of that effort are on display in this scouting video from his Cal League playoff appearance.

Lockard correctly predicted that Torres would be protected from the Rule 5 draft. You can scan his player page for a variety of past looks, including a 2014 language-limited interview from the NY-Penn League.

Torres is pitching for Leones in the Venezuelan Winter League, working in a LOOGY role. Though he’s made 13 appearances, he has worked only 7.1 innings.

The remake of the Padres’ 40-man roster continued just before the deadline to offer players contracts for the 2016 season when the club announced they wouldn’t bring back infielder Will Middlebrooks, catcher Rocky Gale or lefty Frank Garces.

With the departure of Gale, 27, only Jason Hagerty, Robert Kral and Ryan Miller – who made all of four appearances in San Antonio – remain as catchers who aren’t on the 40-man roster and have upper-level experience in the system. Gale could have been optioned to the minors or designated for assignment and remained in the organization. [NOTE: Following the original publication of this story, Gale signed a minor league contract to return to the club.]

Garces, about to turn 26, appeared to have mastered his early-career command issues in 2014 when he moved to the bullpen at Double-A San Antonio, and then made a cameo in the San Diego bullpen. But in 2015, he struggled with walks both in the Majors and at El Paso.

With Garces gone, the upper end of the Padres’ system is now even thinner on lefty relief candidates. Pomeranz and Robbie Erlin, who both would likely hope to compete for a starting role, are joined by Torres as the only southpaws on the 40-man roster. Only Chris Rearick, Brandon Alger, Chris Nunn and Jeff Ibarra, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, remain as southpaws with experience in Double-A or Triple-A. That dearth of options explains, in part, the club’s early move to sign minor league free agent Ramon Benjamin.

With all of the moves, the Padres now have four open spots on their 40-man and have somewhere on the order of $30M to spend to build out the rest of their 2016 roster.

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