The Padres Add Speed, Defense and a Solid Bat Against Lefties in Jake Marisnick

The San Diego Padres made big moves in the offseason in an attempt to chase down the Dodgers. They traded Luis Patiño, Blake Hunt, Cole Wilcox and Francisco Mejía to acquire 2018 AL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell from the Tampa Bay Rays. Less than 24 hours later, they traded Zach Davies, Reginald Preciado, Owen Caissie, Ismael Mena, and Yeison Santana to the Cubs for 2020 NL Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish and his personal catcher Victor Caratini. They turned Hudson Head, David Bednar, Omar Cruz, Drake Fellows into Joe Musgrove in a three-way trade with the Mets and Pirates. Earlier this week they kicked off trade deadline season trading Tucupita Marcano, Jack Suwinski and Michell Miliano to the Pirates for All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier. That flurry of deals alone has seen the Padres part with their second, seventh, eighth, 13th, 15th, 21st, 26th, 28th and 52nd ranked prospects, and send their 2020 second and third round draft picks to other teams for major-league ready talent.

When laid out like that, it seems less surprising that the Padres were outgunned when it came to the deadline’s blockbusters, like the “super-ultra-mega-juggernaut deal” that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Nationals to the Dodgers. But the Padres were not done dealing just because they missed out on the starter they craved. With three minutes before the deadline, they made a smaller move, adding center fielder Jake Marisnick from the Cubs. Anderson Espinoza, a 40+ FV prospect who slots in at No. 29 in the Cubs’ system, is headed back to Chicago.

In Marsinick, the Padres add a veteran presence who knows what it’s like to play in October. Marisnick is unlikely to supplant the Padres’ current starters, but should provide useful depth off the bench. He’s in the 89th percentile in sprint speed according to Statcast and will be valuable as a pinch runner. He is also a solid defender at all the outfield positions and could enter games late as a defensive replacement, including in center field. He’s amassed 39 Outs Above Average since 2016, though his numbers have grown more modest as his career has progressed, and his 226 innings in the field in 2021 have been mixed (1 OAA, 0 DRS, -4.6 UZR) depending on which defensive metric you prefer. Still, he can cover an impressive amount of ground on the grass, as he did on this 30.1 ft/sec sprint that robbed Dylan Moore of a hit in 2019:

Marisnick’s stat line isn’t going to jump off the page; he’s put up a .227/.294/.438 triple slash with a .312 wOBA and a 95 wRC+ across 144 plate appearances in 2021. However, he has hit left-handed pitching much better than right-handed pitching this season. He’s put up a .246/.313/.525 line with a .366 wOBA and 125 wRC+ against southpaws this season, albeit in an admittedly small sample of 69 plate appearances (he has a career line of .243/.299/.426 and a 96 wRC+ against left-handers). Padres outfielders have not been nearly as strong, collectively batting .221/.340/.352 with a wRC+ of 95 and a wOBA of .309 against left-handed pitching. You can see all the Padres outfielders’ production against lefties below:

Padres Outfielders vs. LHP 2021
Tommy Pham 95 .215 .337 .367 .315 99
Wil Myers 80 .219 .363 .344 .312 97
Jurickson Profar 39 .212 .308 .303 .275 73
Trent Grisham 81 .258 .395 .439 .370 135
Jake Marisnick 69 .295 .348 .525 .366 129

Marisnick projects for a .236/.294/.423 line to go along with a 93 wRC+ and 0.2 WAR for the rest of the season. That production is modest, particularly in comparison to the bigger splashes San Diego hoped to make, but in an outfield that hasn’t hit lefties particularly well, been beset by injuries, or both, he’s useful depth off the bench, and who doesn’t want more depth?

To secure Marisnick’s services, the Padres will send Espinoza to a fully rebuilding Chicago Cubs team. Once a highly-regarded prospect, as recently as 2017, Espinoza was the 10th overall prospect in baseball and the top prospect in the Padres system, according to Eric Longenhagen’s rankings. But that was two Tommy John surgeries and a season lost to a pandemic ago. Since then, Espinoza has dropped out of the top 100; a fastball that once touched triple digits now sits 93-95 mph and tops out at 97. He also flashes a plus curve and a changeup. While command was never a strong suit for Espinoza, it’s been a real concern as of late, although it’s unclear how much of that is rust. This is his first season pitching since 2016, working at High-A Fort Wayne. The Cubs will hope that working with their pitch lab, which has shown signs of success this season, will put Espinoza back on track to be an impact reliever.

Thanks to Kevin Goldstein for prospect notes for this piece.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

pointless trade…clogs up OF. wasnt a need sorry

2 years ago
Reply to  StayclassySD

He’s a more useful 4th outfielder than Jorge Mateo.