Padres add time, youth

The San Diego Padres completed a six-player deal that brings in three players that could assist the big league squad this year and in the future.

Adam Eaton, with one year remaining until free agency, had built a gulf between himself and his future with the team beyond this year in recent weeks and the Padres had been in discussions with Texas since November – with Eaton as the centerpiece.

The Padres netted right-handed pitcher Chris Young as the arm of the deal. Originally a third round pick of Pittsburgh in 2000, Young went 12-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 31 starts for the Rangers this past year after going 3-2 with a 4.71 ERA in seven starts the year before. In his 38 major league starts he has held the opposition to a .251 average.

Young, a 6-foot-10, 260-pound behemoth, can reach the mid-nineties with his heater and compliments that with a changeup and curveball.

Young went 34-22 with a 3.42 ERA in 84 minor league starts, including a 3-0 record with the Rangers' Triple-A squad in 2004 where he posted a 1.48 ERA prior to his ascension to the majors.

Young, 26, will join the Padres starting rotation.

Adrian Gonzalez, picked first overall by the Marlins in 2000, hit .338 with 18 homers and 65 RBI's in 84 games for Triple-A Oklahoma last year.

A left-handed hitting first baseman, Gonzalez, 23, has 59 games of major league experience under his belt, hitting .229 with seven homers and 24 RBI's in 192 at bats.

A slick fielder that is Gold Glove caliber, Gonzalez has a line drive swing with scouts split over his pending power numbers. He is a native of southern California and could push Ryan Klesko for playing time or end up in Triple-A with a shot at the first base job next year.

Terrmel Sledge was originally an eighth round pick of the Mariners in 1999 out of Long Beach State.

Sledge, 28, broke out in Triple-A during the 2003 season with 22 homers, 92 RBI's and a .324 average. In his rookie year with Montreal he hit .269 with 15 homers and 62 RBI's but struggled through a hamstring injury that claimed most of the 2005 season.

With a surplus of outfielders, it could pave the way for another trade.

Besides Eaton and Akinori Otsuka, the Padres gave up catcher Billy Killian in the trade.

Killian, selected by the Padres in the third round of the 2004 draft, hit .287 for the Arizona Rookie League squad in 2005 with eight doubles, two triples and ten RBI's.

Killian admitted there was a bit of shock involved with the move.

"Initially, you don't expect the call out of the blue," he said. "It is the sport, the business. It is all about making it to the big leagues. This is the way my road goes."

With George Kottaras honing in on the starting job in San Diego in 2007 and depth that includes Nick Hundley and Colt Morton, catching was a position of strength within the system.

Killian, 19, threw out 15 of the 58 runners attempting to steal on him last year in Rookie ball, 26-percent. A son of a Padre scout, he is one prospect that the Padres were hoping they would not have to include.

"I am a big believer in Billy Killian," minor league field coordinator Bill Bryk said of the catcher. "He is an all-american kid, ‘yes sir', ‘no sir'. He is just going to take longer. When he is 22, 23, I think we are looking at a big leaguer. He just needs more time because of where he came from.

"He puts too much pressure on himself. His catching has improved. He is making more contact. The pressure he puts on himself – he will stay in the batting cages forever. He works too hard and works himself tired. He is physically drained at the end of the day. He is going to have to learn to restrain himself a little bit. That does not happen too often – telling a guy to back off a little."

Working out mostly indoors in the frigid air of Michigan, Killian is looking forward to his new avenue in the Rangers' system.

"It is a team that wanted me."

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