Hours before the start of the 2015 MLB season got underway from Wrigley Field, the San Diego Padres continued to bolster its team by pulling off a blockbuster trade with the Atlanta Braves to acquire closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. formerly known as B.J Upton. This marks the second trade between these two teams as San Diego acquired Justin Upton, brother of Melvin, earlier this offseason.
Along with the Upton’s, the Padres will have Wil Myers and Matt Kemp, who were acquired from the Rays and Dodgers respectively this offseason. If Melvin Upton can be productive and stay healthy this season, the Padres will have a pretty lethal lineup. However, Melvin Upton has struggled the past two seasons after signing a huge deal with the Braves three years ago. He hit just .198 with 21 home runs, 61 RBIs and 324 strike outs. Justin Upton is coming off a season in which he hit .270 with 29 homers and 102 RBIs.
Where the Padres really enhanced its team is in the closer position, which will now belong to Kimbrel. Over the past four seasons, Kimbrel has averaged 43 saves-per-season. The 2011 NL Rookie of the Year has won at least a share of the saves title in each of those four seasons as the full time Braves closer. He has a career ERA of 1.43 to go along with 476 strike outs and 186 saves, which lands him atop the Braves’ franchise save record.
If the starting rotation of James Shields, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy and Brandon Morrow can provide the Padres quality starts and allows the bullpen to not be relied upon as much, it will set the table for Kimbrel to close things out.
The Padres just put their name in the thick of early playoff discussions with all of its offseason activity. San Diego was able to shop at the Atlanta Braves garage sale and come away with one of the best closers in baseball and outfield depth. For Atlanta, rebuild mode is in full force.