With the Trade Deadline looming on July 31st, this blog recently chatted with a National League executive outside the Western Division to get his read on the general market and what the Padres might do.
"The market is slower than normal," he said. "The over-riding sentiment right now is, nobody wants to take on money. The teams that can absorb money are at a big advantage. That may lead to less activity in July and more in August when a lot more contracts -- bigger contracts, may clear."
Regarding the Padres:
"I think the Padres trade (Heath) Bell," said the exec, whose club isn't involved in trade talks with San Diego. "I'm guessing they value (Mike) Adams more than Bell, unless they have concerns about Adams' health. I'm not sure who the industry values more. I would think the asking price from the Padres would be less for Bell than Adams. I could see a team absorbing Bell's money and giving less of a prospect (unless the Padres pay some of the remaining salary in return for a better prospect)."
The Padres control Adams through next season. His salary is $2.54 million. Bell, who has a $7.5 million salary and is first-time eligible for free agency in November, has said he would give the Padres a discount as a free agent. The executive doubts it would come to that because "if you have a $40 million to $50 million payroll, how do you make it work? Even if he signs for $10 million a year, how do the Padres make that work? And Bell's agent will be saying, 'You're leaving four or five million on the table.' "
Told that Bell has shown himself to be an independent thinker, the exec said: "He may an independent thinker, but so many times the agents and the players' union get involved. His agents are fairly aggressive, and they have (Red Sox closer Jonathan) Papelbon too."
Seven months ago, the Red Sox signed Papelbon to a $12 million salary to avoid arbitration.
The exec said the Padres' return on Bell "has to be comparable to two picks in the (2012) draft, maybe not the same but two guys that you like."
As for left-fielder Ryan Ludwick, another Padre eligible for free agency in November and drawing a $6.8 million salary: "He has right-handed power and that is hard to come by. And the ballpark there hurts him -- but I can't see a great return," the exec said. "He's an overpaid, average corner outfielder. They might have to pay some salary on him to get a decent prospect."