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No team made a bigger splash just before the Major League Baseball trade deadline than the San Diego Padres, but the Padres' last trade of the day might have been under-the-radar for most casual baseball fans.

For anyone familiar with high-school baseball in New Jersey, however, the name of the last player they acquired before the 6 p.m. deadline on Tuesday was a standout one, even if it wasn't Juan Soto or Josh Hader.

Just before the MLB trade deadline on Tuesday at 6 p.m., Boston dealt Jay Groome -- the former Barnegat star and 12th overall pick in the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft -- to the San Diego Padres as part of a deal that sent former all-star Eric Hosmer and minor leaguers Max Ferguson and Corey Rosier to the Red Sox.

When Jay Groome was selected straight out of Barnegat in 2016 Major League, he got an opportunity to join the organization he grew up rooting for as a kid -- one known for contending for World Series at just about any cost.

Groome's winding road to the Major Leagues no longer leads to Boston, but he might be in an even better chance to play for a championship, at least if there is a correlation between blockbuster trades and postseason success.

San Diego made headlines earlier Tuesday when the Padres acquired 23-year-old star outfielder Soto from the Washington Nationals. The deal also netted the Padres first baseman Josh Bell and San Diego also landed Hader from Milwaukee and utility slugger Brandon Drury from Cincinnati in the final 48 hours prior to the deadline.

The final piece was Groome, whom the Padres landed in a trade that was made with the primary motivation of clearing some of Eric Hosmer's contract off their payroll. Groome, though, could be a key piece for the Padres -- if not this season than in 2023.

Groome was the only player acquired in the deal by San Diego, who also agreed to pay the majority of the $39 million of Hosmer's contract over the next three seasons, as well as the remaining portion of his $21 million salary for 2022.

 

The first six seasons of Groome's professional career have been a roller-coaster ride thanks to injuries, as well as the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic that canceled the minor league season. After undergoing Tommy John surgery and seeing his velocity fluctuate from the high 90-mile-per-hour range to the upper 80's, Groome has settled in with a fastball that has been in the low 90's this season while pitching at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels.

At Double-A Portland, Groome threw 76 2/3 innings with a 3.52 ERA, 58 hits, 38 walks and 81 strikeouts while appearing in 16 games -- 14 of them starts. After a promotion to Triple-A, Groome made three starts spanning 16 innings and posted a 3.94 ERA with 17 hits, seven walks and 15 strikeouts.

A September bullpen role could be a possibility for Groome and looking ahead to 2023, the Padres are currently set to have three of their five starting pitchers under contract: Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove. Darvish and Snell are both set to be free agents after 2023 and Musgrove and the Padres recently agreed to a five-year, $100-million extension. In addition to those three, Adrian Morejon -- a 23-year-old left-hander with Big-League success on his resume -- is expected to join the rotation after coming back from Tommy John surgery to join this year's bullpen.

That leaves one open rotation spot for a club that is already set to have a significant chunk of payroll tied up in Soto (arbitration-eligible and likely to earn more than $20 million), Manny Machado ($34 million), Musgrove ($20 million), Darvish ($19 million), Snell ($16 million) and Hader (arbitration-eligible, likely to make around $17 million). In Groome, the Padres, get a soon-to-be-24-year-old left-hander who is close to Major-League ready and could be one adjustment or a good offseason away from being ready to pitch at the back of a Major League rotation.

It has not been a straight line to the Major Leagues for Groome and he is not there yet. In his new situation, however, the former Barnegat star may now have the best of both worlds: a team that is all-in on winning the World Series right now who could be ready to give him an opportunity sometime in the next calendar year.

Groome has not pitched since July 27 and is likely to start this weekend for Triple-A El Paso.