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Former Marlins prospect Chris Paddack turning into a future ace for Padres

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Keeping tabs on the 2015 draft pick on the second anniversary of that lopsided trade.

Paddack with GCL Marlins in 2015
Photo courtesy of MLB.com

This Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of a trade the Marlins already regret. I have a feeling this deal will cost the team and its fans a lot of emotional suffering in the future. So let’s review what went wrong, update the status of the players involved and take solace in the fact that the ownership and front office responsible for this no longer make the decisions in Miami.

On the afternoon of June 30, 2016, the Marlins sent right-hander Chris Paddack to the Padres for 39-year-old reliever Fernando Rodney. Even in the moment, the deal made very little sense.

The Marlins were 6 12 games back of the Nationals for the division lead, but still wanted to fight for a wild card spot. They thought adding Rodney would bolster their bullpen and win them some crucial games.

However, despite their proximity to contending teams in the standings, the Marlins didn’t really have enough to justifying “going for it;” they were out-performing their true talent level by a good margin. Their expected winning percentage was .496—based on a minus-3 run differential—and their actual winning percentage was sitting at .519. Regression was inevitable.

NL East Standings—June 30, 2016

Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
Tm W L W-L% GB RS RA pythW-L%
WSN 48 32 0.600 -- 375 282 0.628
NYM 41 37 0.526 6 280 275 0.508
MIA 41 38 0.519 6.5 331 334 0.496
PHI 35 45 0.438 13 278 373 0.369
ATL 27 52 0.342 20.5 264 368 0.353
Baseball-Reference

Speaking of inevitable regression, Rodney was enjoying a stellar first half of the 2016 season. He held a 0.31 ERA along with 17 saves for the Padres, rebounding from mediocrity the prior year (that’s why San Diego was able to sign him to a cheap contract with a 2017 club option). But Rodney struggled after the trade, including a 6.16 ERA following the All-Star break. And yeah, the Marlins missed the playoffs.

They ended up receiving negative value on the field from the trusted veteran and sacrificed promising young talent to acquire him.

Now as for Paddack...He had some shoulder concerns during his first spring in professional baseball, but wiped all of those away by compiling a 0.95 ERA and striking out 49 percent of the batters he faced in A-ball through six starts before being traded. He was a highly regarded pitching prospect and immediately jumped into the Padres top 10 prospects list.

Paddack was still maturing as a 20-year-old and filling out his 6-4, 195-pound frame and many believed there was room for more velocity to be added over time, but he had a small bump in the road and missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

His return this year has been nothing short of excellent. He has done everything to squash all doubts that he isn’t healed from the surgery.

Through 46 13 innings in High-A, Paddack owns a 1.75 ERA along with a 1.29 FIP and 1.41 xFIP. With an ERA that low and the peripherals to support it, he seems likely to excel at higher levels, too. Also, he doesn’t walk batters, period—so far this season, Paddack pairs a 2.3 BB% with his enormous 44.9 K%.

K%-BB% leaderboards for the MLB this season(min. 20 innings)
Fangraphs

If we look at the MLB leaders in K%-BB% for the 2018 season (min. 20 innings), you can see it is filled with all of the best pitchers in the game and some other young pitchers that are quickly making their way to the top like Ross Stripling, Shane Bieber and Freddy Peralta.

If Paddack can continue to strike out batters at a high rate and limit walks, he’s on his way to becoming one of the premier pitchers in the game. That probably isn’t what a lot of you wanted to hear, but do not worry because I fully trust the new ownership to make smarter moves going forward. In fact, the Marlins have the opportunity to land their own “Chris Paddack” this summer with trade chips including J.T. Realmuto, Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider.

So as always, #Re2pectTheProcess.