The 2018 MLB Winter Meetings are less than a week away, and the San Diego Padres are expected to make at least one significant move. Here is a look at some starting pitchers the Padres could be targeting:
The Padres have placed finding a frontline starting pitcher and a legitimate third baseman as their top priorities ahead of the 2019 MLB season. They have already been mentioned in rumors concerning both positions. Unfortunately, none of those rumors came to fruition.
The Padres were said to be in talks with the Seattle Mariners about a trade that would have sent Jean Segura and Mike Leake to San Diego. The rumor suggested that the Padres were offering a package surrounding Wil Myers. That rumor lost steam just as quick as it surfaced. The Mariners eventually sent Segura to Philadelphia for J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana.
The Padres were mentioned in Noah Syndergaard rumors several times, with experts discussing possible trades between the two teams. These scenarios included Padres pitching prospects Chris Paddack and Mackenzie Gore, as well as current starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi.
Bob Nightengale tweeted on Dec. 4 that the Mets have said they prefer to keep Syndergaard on their roster since they plan to contend in 2019. This leaves the Padres looking for a new lead to acquire a starting pitcher via trade unless they sign a starting pitcher in free agency.
Any, and maybe all, speculation of which route they will use to pursue a starting pitcher could be resolved next week. Some of the more coveted free agent starting pitchers should still be on the market when the Winter Meetings begin, like Nate Eovaldi and Dallas Keuchel.
But what if Padres general manager A.J. Preller would prefer to use his prospect capital to acquire a front-of-the-rotation starter instead of awarding a substantial contract to a free agent? Who would he pursue?
In an era where several MLB clubs are opting to tear down their current rosters and start anew, there could be plenty of teams willing to talk to the Padres about their prospects. San Diego has the top farm system in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.
The Arizona Diamondbacks fell short of returning to the postseason in 2018. The team has indicated that it’s willing to initiate a “fire sale” and revamp their roster. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt and pitcher Zack Greinke have been mentioned in trade rumors. One pitcher who hasn’t been mentioned is Robbie Ray.
The Diamondbacks haven’t shown any desire to move Ray, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t available. Ray finished 2018 with a 12.01 K/9 and a 3.93 ERA. Going to San Diego immediately puts him at the front of the starting rotation. He is eligible for arbitration through 2020 before becoming a free agent.
The Toronto Blue Jays enjoyed a short run at the top of the American League East, reaching the ALCS in 2015 and 2016. They never advanced any further.
Going forward, the Blue Jays are preparing to avoid the cellar in a top-heavy division. The Tampa Bay Rays have quietly built their team, and soon they will be competing with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
The Blue Jays aren’t contending any time soon, and they’ll look to see what they can fetch in return by dealing any of their current players. One such player is Aaron Sanchez.
Like Ray, Sanchez is arbitration-eligible through the 2020 season. It wouldn’t take much to acquire him, and adding him to the starting rotation makes it better.
This could be a “think outside the box” trade proposal. Jakob Junis is under team control for two more seasons, then is arbitration-eligible through 2023.
Junis doesn’t seem to miss a lot of bats, but his 2.19 BB/9 is intriguing. The Royals have just started their rebuild, but Junis is controllable for the next several years. It’s hard to imagine they would deal him, but nothing is ever outside the realm of possibility.
The Cleveland Indians are said to be open to trading either Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Padres fans can’t help but think about Ryan Ludwick when they hear Kluber’s name, but there could be a chance Kluber dons a Padres uniform after all. He’s owed $52.5 million over the next three seasons and it would take a significant prospect haul, but acquiring Kluber instantly makes the rotation better.
Or, they don’t trade for Kluber and instead go for Trevor Bauer. He’s arbitration-eligible for the next two seasons, and the cost to acquire him wouldn’t be as substantial. And they would only have to give him 1-year deals if they land him, thanks to the bet he made with a friend.
The Winter Meetings begin on Dec. 9 and run through Dec. 13. Will there be any new names on the 40-man roster next week? Stay tuned.