On Wednesday it was announced that the San Diego Padres made several minor league free agent signings. Included in these signings were RHPs Juan Arias, Johnny Hellweg, Daniel McCutchen, Martires Arias, and Luis Diaz. Arias and McCutchen were both re-signed by the Padres while the other three players were all brought in from outside of the organization. While these are just minor league deals, several of these players have interesting potential upsides in either the short or long term.
Hellweg is 27-year-old right handed pitcher that was formerly a member of both the Angels and Brewers farm systems before joining the Padres. Hellweg saw some time in the big league level in 2013 with the Brewers but he has bounced around between AAA and AA over the last two seasons. Hellweg’s development was slowed a bit by Tommy John surgery in 2014, and has been unable to recover properly over the last season. He went 1-10 with an ERA over 6.00 in the Brewers system in 2015. It is clear Hellweg may not have what it takes to be a starter but could be a good reliever with a fastball that hit 100 mph before his surgery.
McCutchen is a 33-year-old right hander who has been a member of the Yankees, Pirates, Rangers, Orioles and White Sox organizations, including some big league playing time in 2009-2012 with the Pirates and 2014 with the Rangers. McCutchen was in AAA with the Padres in 2015 and finished the season with a 5.85 ERA in 32 appearances with 22 of those being starts. At this point, it looks like McCutchen is nothing more than a career minor leaguer, although he could get a chance to crack the Padres bullpen at some point if he can perform better.
Arias is a 25-year-old right hander who has been a member of the Mets organization for the past six seasons. Arias has only gotten as high as high A ball in all that time which doesn’t bode very well for his prospects as a Padre long term. Arias has looked a lot better in recent years and potentially has upside because of his strikeout numbers. Arias had a K/9 of almost 11 in 2014 and nearly nine in 2015. This may decline as Arias gets to higher levels and his advanced age does not bode well for his future. One thing he does have is size, at 6’7’’, and this could translate to some success as a possible bullpen option long term.
Diaz is a 23-year-old right hander who was in the Red Sox organization for the first six seasons of his career. Diaz has played in Double AA over the last two seasons, finishing the 2015 season with an ERA of 5.47 in 27 total starts. Arias took a significant step back from 2014 to 2015, and definitely needs a fresh start in a new organization. At his best, Diaz may be a fifth starter in the Majors but more likely could be a bullpen arm with a mid-90s fastball and a decent slider.
Arias is a 20-year-old right hander formerly of the Marlins organization. Of all the minor leaguers the Padres added over the last week, Juan Arias may be the most interesting of all. Arias spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the Miami Marlins organization, playing in rookie ball in both seasons. Arias has not pitched in the minor leagues since 2013 and is looking for a potential bounce back. Arias did pitch for the Padres in the 2015 Dominican Summer League, finishing with a 3.35 ERA in 21 games. What makes him interesting is the fact that he is the youngest of all these signings and still has the most time left to develop into a potential worthwhile asset.