In their 51 year history the San Diego Padres have featured only 13 Canadian players. This is certainly not the lowest total of any MLB team but of these 13, only two have played more than one season in San Diego.
Heading into 2020 the Padres featured two Canadian former first round draft picks (Cal Quantrill and Josh Naylor), drafted a Team Canada standout in the second round of the June Draft (Owen Caissie) and had a 21-year old righty who posted a 1.69 ERA and 13.5 strikeout per nine in his first professional season (Matt Brash).
The Franchise looked posed to have their first star or two from north of the Border. But after a flurry of trades over a four month stretch in 2020, the Padres saw all four of their Canucks shipped out of town.
The Canadians in Question
The Padres Organization collected these four Canucks over a five year period:
Josh Naylor: The Mississauga-native was taken 12th overall by the Miami Marlins in 2015. He was sent to San Diego as part of the Andrew Cashner deal in 2016. Naylor made his debut against his hometown Blue Jays on May 24, 2019. He played 112 games for the Friars before departing.
Cal Quantrill – The son of former Padre Paul Quantrill, was drafted 8th overall by San Diego in 2016 and joined Naylor on the Team’s top prospects list. He made his debut on May 1, 2019 and earned his first career win against the Blue Jays, the same series Naylor made his MLB debut. He would be traded out of San Diego after 33 games.
Matt Brash – Of the four Canadians, Brash was the least heralded. He was drafted 113th overall and he had a brilliant debut season in 2019, but it was over an incredibly small sample size (5.1 innings).
The Niagara-native never pitched above Single A for San Diego. He was traded at the 2020 Deadline.
Owen Caissie – San Diego took the 17-year old Canadian Junior standout, 45th overall in the 2020 Draft. He was traded six months after being originally selected. Since there were no minor league games in 2020, Caissie did not compile any official at bats for the Friars.
These four Canadians were traded out of San Diego after a flurry of deadline and offseason deals.
During the shortened 2020 season, the Padres found themselves buyers at the August 31st Trade Deadline, as they tried to keep pace with the rival LA Dodgers. The Team tried to bolster their rotation by acquiring Mike Clevinger from Cleveland, who was having a strong season.
Though it was a nine-player deal, Naylor and Quantrill were the main pieces heading to the Indians and Clevinger the big name going back to San Diego.
Brash was also part of a deadline deal in 2020 and was sent to Seattle as a Player to Be Named Later (PTBNL) in exchange for reliever Taylor Williams.
Caissie was a part of a seven-player deal that saw Yu Darvish sent to the Padres, with veteran Zach Davies and a slew of prospects heading back to the Chicago Cubs. This deal occurred in December 2020 and officially put an end to the Canadian Era in the Padres Organization – before it had a chance to begin.
Who won the deals and where are those Canadians now?
It’s hard to look at trades a year later and declare winners and losers, especially when one team is gaining prospects and the other is receiving veterans, but let’s take a look.
The Naylor-Quantrill-Clevinger deal is still evolving but I think we can say Cleveland is winning this trade so far.
Of the three players heading to San Diego, Clevinger managed to pitch four games, Greg Allen played one game and is no longer with the Team and the Player to be named later, has yet to move past Double-A. Clevinger is recovery from Tommy John Surgery and is expected to be back in 2022.
Of the six players heading to Cleveland, Quantrill has emerged as a top of the rotation arm and seems to be blossoming into what San Diego hoped Clevinger would/will be for them.
Naylor has had flashed of brilliance, including hitting .714, with four extra base hits in seven at bats during Cleveland’s 2020 postseason. But overall the 24-year old has struggled to hit for average on a consistent basis.
Even if Clevinger bounces back in 2022, Cleveland seems posed to be the winner in the immediate future.
In the Brash deal I would declare San Diego the clear losers. Williams pitched only 6.1 innings for the Padres between 2020-2021 and is now a part of the Miami Marlins. Although Brash has not pitched a MLB inning, he shot up the Mariners depth chart and was named the organization’s Pitcher of the year in 2021. He was also called up to the Big League team in September 2021 but did not make an appearance.
The 23-year old is currently Seattle’s tenth ranked prospect and is part of the 40-man roster. It’s unclear if Brash will have a shot at a rotation spot in Seattle but he will likely make his MLB debut this year.
The Yu Darvish trade is the least clear at the moment. Although he was the best MLB player in this trade, during the 2021 season, the Japanese hurler was hardly the ace the Padres expected him to be. At 35-years of age, one wonders if he can bounce back to his all star form?
If Darvish continues to decline, the Cubs may win this trade in the long run. Of the four prospects that went to Chicago, Caissie (ninth ranked in Cubs’ system) and Reginald Preciado (8th ranked) are the two to watch. Both these young players appear a few years away from the Majors and by that time Darvish may be out of San Diego and/or out of baseball.
Although the Padres appeared to clear out all their Canadians in a hurry, the organizational shelves are not completely empty. Of the four Canucks that played in the San Diego system in 2021, two have been released and of the two remaining neither have played above Single-A.
Carter Loewen and Garrett Hawkins are the two remaining and both seem many years and a lot of good luck away from their San Diego debut. Either way it seems like the Padres are a ways away from having their 14th Canadian player.
Photo by K.C. Alfred/ San Diego Union -Tribune