Mike Clevinger
The Padres acquiring Mike Clevinger is a cute and fun story but they’re still miles away from being legit contenders. The Padres aren’t close to challenging the big boys. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

AJ Preller is ALL the way in. The Padres have pushed their chips to the center more than anybody else during the 2020 MLB trade deadline. Thus far, the Padres have acquired Trevor Rosenthal, Mitch Moreland, Jason Castro, Austin Nola, and now Mike Clevinger. The problem is, San Diego still isn’t a legit contender after all of those moves.

Look, Clevinger is a big time get. I don’t hate this trade for the Padres who had too much depth and basically snagged a stud pitcher out of it. San Diego gave up RHP Cal Quantrill, LF Josh Naylor, C Austin Hedges, SS Gabriel Arias, LHP Joey Cantillo, and SS Owen Miller for the Indians starter. The Padres had 40 man roster problems anyway so you can’t crush them for this trade. However, it most likely doesn’t change anything.

Clevinger, 29, is a really good starter. From 2017-20, Clevinger has a 152 ERA-plus. Among those with at least 400IP only Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw have been better. The Padres got themselves a good one and gave up a ton of players to get the deal done.

That’s great and all. It’s not good enough to win a championship or even get out of the NL. For that matter, they’re still miles behind the Dodgers in their own division. Clevinger is the ace of the staff. Behind him is Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, Garrett Richards, and Zach Davies. That’s not good enough.

Chris Paddack has promise but he’s not ready for prime time as a number two starter in a postseason series. Lamet also has promise but is just now starting to figure things out this year. Garrett Richards? Please. Zach Davies is a solid number 3 or 4 starter. You’re not going toe to toe with any of the big boys and winning that battle.

The Padres traded for two years of control with Clevinger who hits free agency in 2023. This trade may be worth it as long as we acknowledge the Padres have a long way to go before they’re winning anything. Fernando Tatis Jr is a superstar but they need about 3 or 4 more of him to compete with the big boys. I’m afraid AJ Preller is going to be disappointed when it team falls flat on their face. Just like he was when he went all in in 2015.

The Padres haven’t made the postseason since Preller became the GM. It’s mostly been him cleaning up his own mess since he screwed the franchise in year one of his take over. The Padres are a cute and fun story but this is just the beginning of their process. There’s a lot more work to be done here.