Trade Season: Chase Headley to the New York Yankees

22
Jul

On Tuesday, August 22, the New York Yankees traded utility-man Yangervis Solarte and RHP Rafael De Paula to the San Diego Padres in exchange for third baseman Chase Headley. This trade may have been expected to be a bigger deal two years ago. Today, it is just a minor move by a team looking to find value and a team that has no reason to hold onto a player heading into free agency. Today…it has devolved into this.

In 2012, Headley slugged 31 home runs and finished fifth in MVP voting.1 Hitting .286/.376/.498 that year, it would have been wise for the Padres to deal Headley at the peak of his value. That’s with hindsight of course. San Diego saw Headley as an emerging star blooming slightly late but finding his true value. In the end, it appears that Headley merely had a surprisingly powerful year. Headley’s 14.7% HR/FB ratio — more than double his second highest output of his career — should have been a big indicator. Though his SO% and BB% were higher in 2012, they weren’t demonstrably higher to make one think that those couldn’t be replicated.

With a hope of getting back to the likes of 2010 when they finished the year 90-72,2 San Diego kept Headley in hopes of a continued MVP caliber third baseman and the ability to build a team around him. Unfortunately for the Padres, it never happened.

Headley will be headed from spacious Petco Park to Yankee Stadium. With a .229/.296/.355 triple slash through 307 plate appearances this year, the 30-year-old will look to take advantage of the short porch in New York. At first glance, this deal seems surprising because Yankee third basemen have hit a collective .261/.331/.395 but have just eight home runs so far. Though Headley’s triple slash is noticeably lower than the cumulative Yankee line, New York General Manager Brian Cashman must believe that Headley’s power will resurface in a more forgiving environment.

In return for their once prestigious hitter, the Padres must now settle for a return of Solarte and De Paula. The latter likely being the more intriguing part of the trade, though that doesn’t say much.

A 26-year-old rookie, Solarte has infield versatility that will allow him to play some limited shortstop if needed.3 Solarte’s value will come from his just slightly below average fielding versatility along with his on-base skills. Solarte, despite leading the Yankees in home runs at third base with five, is not a threat to go deep often. The slugging of .381 shows that, but .254/.337 is a good BA/OBP combination for a versatile defender. At best, Solarte looks like a bench player.

High-A at the age of 23 is age appropriate but not inspiring from an addition to the organization standpoint. De Paula has a blazing fastball, a possible curveball and shows a changeup. The three pitch mix would be just enough to get by in the back end of a rotation with the velocity that the fastball brings. With 3.8 BB/9, De Paula will have to work on his control sticking in the rotation is imaginable. The Padres will be hoping that the likely relief prospect can find a way to stay a starter, despite it being unlikely. He is still starting in High-A currently and the common tactic of waiting until you absolutely must move a pitcher from starter to reliever will be used.

Trading away their two biggest name pieces, they sent Huston Street to the Los Angeles Angels, has resulted in a modest return of several decent upside lottery tickets, but little assured return for the San Diego franchise.


  1. All stats for Headley provided by Baseball-Reference 

  2. Padres historical records per Baseball-Reference 

  3. The Oakland Athletics have shown how valuable versatility can be. 

About the author: Colby Rogers

Colby is the Editor-in-Chief, Founder and Lead Contributor to Other League. Also a law student focusing on Labor & Employment law and intersections with law and sports. You can find him on Twitter via @Colby_OL.