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Padres have chips on the table as Deadline approaches

Headley is most coveted asset; Kennedy, Benoit, Denorfia could also be on the move

Padres have chips on the table as Deadline approaches

SAN DIEGO -- When the Padres return to Petco Park on July 29 from their seven-game road trip, there's a chance their 25-man roster could look a lot different than when they left town Monday.

The Padres figure to be active before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. In fact, they already have been.

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On Friday, San Diego traded its most valuable commodity, closer Huston Street, to the Angels as part of a six-player deal that landed the team four Minor League prospects.

The Padres might just be getting warmed up.

Assistant general manager A.J. Hinch, the point man for trade discussions, has been fielding phone calls for weeks from other teams about the availability of players. And just because the Padres have already moved Street, doesn't mean they're closed for business.

"I've kind of learned in my time in baseball to expect the unexpected," Hinch said after the Street trade. "You never know. At this time of year, with the state of how things are going, this being trading season ... anything can happen."

One of those potential trade targets is the longest-tenured Padre, third baseman Chase Headley, who played in his first game with the team in 2007. A homegrown product, Headley will be a free agent this winter and has attracted a lot of attention.

He was asked after Sunday's 2-1 victory over the Mets if he thought he had played his last home game at Petco Park.

"No, I don't ever think like that. There's always a time for reflection and that stuff, but that just gets in the way," Headley said. "If it is, then I'll think about it later. But for now, I'm just going out and playing."

But for how much longer will be he be doing so with the Padres?

Potential trade chips

Headley: This is Headley's walk year, and it's nearly a slam dunk that he's dealt before the Trade Deadline. The Padres' prospect of landing a compensatory pick sounds nice, though not at the risk of him accepting a qualifying offer of what is expected to be around $15 million.

Headley could very well be a nice fit for, say, an American League team, where he could hit lower in the order. What could the Padres get for him? Headley is owed $4.16 million this season. The quality of the prospect(s) the Padres would receive would be directly tied to how much their trade partner would take on in terms of Headley's remaining salary.

Remember, Headley is a player who has won a Gold Glove Award. He's a switch-hitter with pop from each side who can take a walk. He led the National League in RBIs (115) in 2012, and he's hitting .323 in 65 at-bats this month.

OF Chris Denorfia: A free agent after the season, Denorfia has traditionally been tough on left-handed pitching, hitting .308/.374/.459 in 755 plate appearances in the big leagues between 2005 and 2013.

That mark against southpaws has slipped this season (.238/.289/.321), but Denorfia could still provide a nice spark off the bench as a fourth outfielder or a platoon option for a playoff contender in the second half.

Defensively, his best position is right field, though he can move around the outfield and is a career .275 hitter who runs well. There's some value here, although unless he's packaged with another player(s), he won't likely bring back much in return in a deal.

SP Ian Kennedy: First of all, the Padres aren't sure they want to deal Kennedy, who is looking more like the pitcher who won 21 games with the D-backs in 2011 after some work with the team's pitching coach, Darren Balsley.

He's pitched well on the road. His fastball is up a tick in terms of velocity, as evidenced by his strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate (9.53), which is up nearly a full point from last season. His walks are down, his home run rate is down and his batting average on balls in play (.323) suggests he could be even better.

Better still? He's under team control in 2015. That's attractive to the Padres and trade partners alike.

If a team wants to overpay for Kennedy, the Padres would certainly listen. Otherwise, you can expect to see him in the rotation in 2015 with Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, giving the Padres a dynamic 1-2-3 at the top of the rotation.

But could the emergence of rookies Odrisamer Despaigne -- who came within four outs of the first no-hitter in franchise history on Sunday -- and Jesse Hahn make it a little easier to absorb the loss of Kennedy if the return package is attractive? We'll see.

RP Joaquin Benoit: He is the Trade Deadline wild card. Yes, the Padres have already dealt their closer, Street. So can they really part with Benoit, who is the closer for now and most likely 2015?

Teams need bullpen help more than ever at the Trade Deadline, and as shown by the Angels, they are often willing to part with solid prospects to get it. Could the Padres possibly be swayed by a package that would make them rethink their position on Benoit, who will make $8 million next season?

The Padres have Nick Vincent, Kevin Quackenbush, Blaine Boyer, Dale Thayer and Alex Torres as late-game bullpen options, and with the newly acquired R.J. Alvarez not far off, should they choose to move Benoit.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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