The approach of the July 31 trading deadline brought the rumor mongers and baseball vultures to the Padres doorstep.
Certainly the team that traded away first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for two prospects in the winter of 2010 and dispatched relief pitcher to Texas for two young pitching prospects last July 31, would again be selling at the trading deadline.
And the Padres, who beat Colorado 3-2 Sunday, have players coveted by other teams -- closer Huston Street, third baseman Chase Headley, reserve outfielders Mark Kotsay and Chris Denorfia, starting pitchers Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez, several relievers and, at the top of many lists, left fielder Carlos Quentin.
But Padres general manager Josh Byrnes recently went on record saying the Padres were looking with a purpose toward the near-future -- that they might not be in the market for wholesale changes at the deadline.
"I'm not tearing this team apart," said Byrnes. "We're not going to rip up what we've worked hard to start building. If a deal makes sense, we're ready to help ourselves. But I like our direction, what we're doing."
Sunday morning, Byrnes and the Padres made another statement that could go a long ways in changing the perception of the Padres -- both with their fans and in the wider circle of the baseball fraternity.
They signed left fielder/cleanup hitter Quentin to a contract that will keep him a Padre through at least the 2015 season. And there are indications that the Padres are looking to extend Street, even if they have a mutual option for the closer for 2013.
"I don't think we'll be doing as much at the trading deadline as the rumor mill believes," Byrnes said.
Under the terms of the no-trade contract, Quentin, who is making $7.025 million this season, will make $9.5 million in 2013, $9.5 million in 2014 and $8 million in 2015 with a mutual option for $10 million for the 2016 season. At the moment, there is no buyout on the option. But if Quentin starts 320 games over the next three seasons, a $3 million buyout kicks in against the option -- which would raise the minimum to $30 million.
Quentin, who turns 30 on Aug. 28, has a history of injuries.
He has never played more than 130 games in a major league season and averaged only 119 games over his last four seasons with the Chicago White Sox before the Padres acquired him. Despite his limited playing time, Quentin averaged 26.75 homers and 80 RBI a season for the White Sox. His debut with the Padres was delayed until this season's 50th game on May 28 due to surgery during spring training (March 19) to repair a tear to the meniscus in his right knee while also removing floating particles from the knee.
But he has started 38 of the Padres' last 47 games with two pinch-hitting appearances. He is hitting .273 with nine homers and 22 RBI in 139 at-bats. He has a .389 on-base percentage and a .525 on-base percentage -- both being the highest marks among Padres with more than 65 plate appearances. The Padres are 23-24 since Quentin's return after going 17-32 when he was on the disabled list.
"This is an amazing opportunity to stay and play in the city I grew up in," said Quentin. "I wanted to stay at home. And I let my agent know how I feel. I see what we are doing here as positive and I wanted to be a part of it."
"Carlos is a proven middle-of-the-order bat," said Byrnes, who signed the cleanup hitter with the backing of current Padres majority owner John Moores and the O'Malley Group that is negotiating to purchase the Padres.
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