The Padres are making every possible move to upgrade their roster, and as Yangervis Solarte is a utility player pretending to be a third baseman right now, San Diego is looking to improve at the hot corner. They might not get a definite jump in production by dealing for Will Middlebrooks, but they're trying it anyway, according to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan. In return, the Red Sox would get that second catcher they're looking for in Ryan Hanigan, who was traded to the Padres on Wednesday in the Wil Myers deal.
WEEI's Rob Bradford reports that the deal is good to go once Middlebrooks passes a physical.
With Pablo Sandoval at third in Boston and Garin Cecchini there in Pawtucket, there really wasn't anywhere left for Middlebrooks in the organization. He's not a first baseman, and the Sox have Travis Shaw at Pawtucket trying to find out if he has any value there, anyway. Middlebrooks has legitimate power, the kind that can send a baseball over the walls of Petco Park with ease, but he has had contact issues and problems staying healthy. The Padres can afford to take a chance on him bouncing back or breaking out, as third base is a wasteland league-wide, and Middlebrooks has both the potential at the plate and in the field to justify the opportunity there.
Middlebrooks is a career .237/.284/.411 batter who has struggled with injuries in each of his three seasons, but he also hit 32 home runs in his first 169 games and 660 plate appearances, and will be just 26 years old in 2015. There is still time for him to become an average or better hitter for the position, with the glove to help offset the slightly worse years at the plate. That might not seem sexy, but given the alternatives in the modern third base landscape, it'll do even for a competitive team. Plus, he's not a free agent until 2019, and isn't arbitration eligible until 2016, meaning the Padres get at least one more very inexpensive season to see what he's got.
Hanigan is a defense-first backstop who is probably a stretch to be the primary catcher, but that's what Christian Vazquez is for, anyway: Boston's pursuit of perennial backup catcher David Ross is proof enough of that. Hanigan batted .218/.318/.324 in 84 games and 263 plate appearances for the Rays, and is best served facing left-handed hitters. The Red Sox rotation will appreciate working with him, at least, even if he isn't going to drive in any runs to support their efforts.
Hanigan will be 34 in 2015, and actually went to high school in Andover, Massachusetts. He's under contract for a few seasons, at $3.5 million in 2015 and $3.7 million in 2016, with $3.75 million team option with an $800,000 buyout for 2017. If the Sox hold on to Vazquez and Blake Swihart develops as expected, Hanigan won't stick for all three years, but teams are always looking for a catcher who can produce on one end of the spectrum or another.