The Padres had talks with the Blue Jays about a possible trade involving Jake Cronenworth, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. These discussions notably took place prior to the trade that saw the Padres move Juan Soto and Trent Grisham to the Yankeees, and Rosenthal now suggests that Cronenworth might not be moved since San Diego would be moving another left-handed hitter from a lineup that now tilts rather heavily to the right side.
Rosenthal’s suggestion notwithstanding, the Padres’ payroll balance might be a bigger factor than lineup balance in gauging a Cronenworth trade. Cost-cutting has been the central theme of the Friars’ offseason, as the team is looking to reset its luxury tax status and perhaps drop the payroll under $200MM, from an approximate $255MM figure in 2023. This was the chief reasoning behind the Soto trade, as well as Grisham’s inclusion in the deal to move some extra salary off the books. The Padres also dealt Matt Carpenter to the Braves in another salary dump of a move, while free agent pitchers Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, and Nick Martinez have all signed elsewhere (and Blake Snell and Josh Hader also doesn’t seem likely to be re-signed).
With this focus in mind, it is hard to imagine that the Padres wouldn’t also be eager to get Cronenworth’s contract off the books. The infielder is still owed $78MM over the course of a seven-year extension that officially begins with the 2024 season, and that deal now looks like a front office misfire in the wake of Cronenworth’s disappointing 2023 campaign. While Cronenworth hit a solid .256/.338/.431 over 1519 plate appearances for San Diego from 2020-22, he stumbled to a .229/.312/.378 slash line in 522 PA last season and suffered a right wrist fracture that ended his year in late August.
MLBTR’s Anthony Franco recently looked at the obvious difficulties San Diego would face in trying to trade Cronenworth at this low point in his value, and it seems very unlikely the Padres would be able to swing a deal unless they either ate a big chunk of Cronenworth’s deal, or took on another undesirable contract in return. As such, it might benefit the Friars to just hang onto Cronenworth and hope that he can rebound next season — either to boost his trade value or simply to reclaim his spot as a building block in the team’s future.
From the Blue Jays’ perspective, acquiring Cronenworth makes sense given the club’s needs at second base and third base. The…