12/31/11 5:00 PM EST
Padres acquire Quentin for two prospects
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
Byrnes, now three months on the job, engineered his second big trade of the month, when he traded two Minor League pitchers to the White Sox in order to get Quentin, a two-time All-Star who is projected to be the Padres' starting left fielder.
The Padres sent right-handed pitcher Simon Castro and left-hander Pedro Hernandez to the White Sox in the trade that was agreed to in principle on Friday morning before it was officially announced on Saturday.
"It's exciting," Quentin said. "It's a positive for me."
The trade represents a homecoming for Quentin, 29. He has lived in the San Diego area since he was 5. The trade also represents a reunion with Byrnes, who kicked himself on more than one occasion after Quentin's career soared in Chicago.
"Trading [Quentin] is pretty high on my list of regrets. ... There was a lot of talent," Byrnes said of the deal that netted the D-backs first baseman Chris Carter, who was later spun to the A's in a big deal to get pitcher Dan Haren.
"He obviously went out and did some big things for the White Sox. Having a chance to get him back became very appealing this offseason."
Quentin, who hit 107 home runs in four seasons with the White Sox, gives the Padres a power bat, something the team has longed for since the deal a year ago this month that saw All-Star Adrian Gonzalez traded to the Red Sox.
"He's a proven middle-of-the-order bat that I think will come to our team and fit in very nicely as an experienced hitter," Padres manager Bud Black said. "In general ... he's a good offensive player with a hard-nosed approach each and every night."
While Petco Park neutralizes power like few other ballparks in the Major Leagues, Black feels that Quentin's power will play well at the Padres' downtown ballpark.
"I think true, raw power works anywhere. I think right-handed power, with the ability to pull the ball, works in our park. A lot of his power comes on the pull side," Black said.
Quentin's bat gives the Padres some much-needed thump. Ryan Ludwick ended up as the Padres' RBIs leader last season (64) -- and he was traded on July 31. Only the Mariners and Giants scored fewer runs than the Padres in 2011.
Last season, the Padres ranked last in the Major Leagues in batting average against right-handers (.229), 29th in on-base percentage (.301) and 30th in slugging (.340). The hope is that Quentin will help change that.
Quentin has a .260 career batting average against right-handed pitchers, and has hit 87 of his 121 home runs against righties.
"He's got huge power," Byrnes said of Quentin.
Quentin didn't sound too deterred about playing half his games in Petco Park.
"I've heard different talk about the park. I was here when it was first built. My approach to hitting is always being a hitter first and staying within myself. I've always found that to be the most ideal," Quentin said of his new home ballpark.
"I'll become familiar with that, and look forward to the challenge. I'm looking at it as a positive."
So is Byrnes, who two weeks ago traded pitcher Mat Latos to the Reds for four players, including Yonder Alonso, who figures to be the starting first baseman. He has wasted little time in helping shape the roster for 2012 and beyond.
"We're happy with how it's turned out," Byrnes said of the offseason. "We feel we have some work to do, but feel we've taken some steps to improve [our offense]."
Quentin, who will be a free agent following this season, made $5.05 million last season and will be in line for a raise that could push his salary over $7 million.
The Padres made the deal on Saturday without having to part with any of their top prospects, though that wouldn't have been the case had this trade been made, say, two years ago, as Castro's star has faded some since the second half of the 2010 season.
Castro, 23, appeared in the 2010 Futures Game but has largely struggled with mechanics since then. He went 7-8 with a 5.63 ERA in 22 starts last season between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson. But Castro responded favorably to mechanical changes in the second half of 2011 and pitched better.
The Padres liked Hernandez -- and not just because he was left-handed. Hernandez, 23, was 10-3 with a 3.49 ERA last season in 23 games spread across three different levels. He had 94 strikeouts and 22 walks in 116 innings pitched.
Hernandez, who touches 95 mph with velocity that mostly sits between 90-93 mph, came on strong a year ago. He has a plus changeup and, like Castro, might not be far off from being ready to pitch at the Major League level.
"It's hard to give up pitching prospects, but it's an area of strength," Byrnes said.
"We liked both of those guys quite a bit."