A front-line starting pitcher and closer should be on the San Diego Padres’ Christmas wish list. Where else should the Padres look to improve their roster?
For the upcoming 2021 season, the San Diego Padres have a lot to be thankful for. An extremely talented lineup, a farm system acting as a conveyor belt of talent, and a front office that isn’t afraid to make gutsy moves. The fans’ thirst for a championship is real. Coming off the first playoff appearance in years, the window for contention is wide open. Despite all of this, there are a few things the Padres should have on their wish list to the Santa Claus of Baseball.
After losing Mike Clevinger to Tommy John surgery, the Padres have big shoes to fill at the top of the starting rotation. The club should count their blessings and be thankful for all the young arms they have to fill that void. MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patino, Adrian Morejon, Ryan Weathers, and others should be given a chance to do so. However, replacing a front-line starter with a front-line starter should be at the top of the Padres wish list this year.
This offseason, there are only two such pitchers available, Trevor Bauer and Blake Snell. Unfortunately, Bauer is asking for around $30 million a year, which is likely above what the front office wants to spend, especially when other needs have not been met. On the other hand, Snell is under a team-friendly contract for three years at an average of $13 million a season. He would certainly cost a significant amount in prospects. The Padres’ starting rotation is top-heavy on right-handed pitchers, and Snell helps that, but keeping the left-handed prospects should be a priority. This would result in trading Patino and likely another highly-rated prospect like Luis Campusano. Including both prospects would certainly get the ball rolling on yet another Padres and Rays trade. Acquiring Snell (or Bauer) would leave the final spot in the rotation up to Adrian Morejon and Mackenzie Gore, an exciting situation for Padre fans. Not only would the rotation be championship level (at least on paper) for years to come, but it would allow the young arms to succeed.
As far as the roster is concerned, the next item on the wish list must a closer. Bringing back either Trevor Rosenthal or Kirby Yates should be a priority for general manager A.J. Preller and the Padres. Both players are extremely likable for fans and in the clubhouse alike. Bringing back both players is probably asking too much, but losing two fan-favorites would be tough to swallow. The bullpen is deep with lots of quality arms, but having an elite closer would certainly strengthen the Padres’ chances at a first World Series title. In a recent interview, Preller indicated that he checks in on both players regularly, so this wish should have a good chance of coming true.
The Padres need to stop playing second fiddle to the Dodgers. Anytime the team compares itself to the Dodgers, it is as if the Padres are not as good, looking up to the Dodgers. My wish is for the San Diego Padres to come out and say we are better than the Dodgers — that this club is trying to win the NL West and will not settle for a Wild Card berth. That we are not the “little brother” to the Dodgers. Walker Buehler and Dave Roberts have both gone on record to say there is no rivalry with the Padres. Come out and declare that we will no longer take a backseat. The Dodgers need to be chasing the Padres. This will absolutely put a very large target on their own backs, but they possess the talent and the swagger to back it up. Let the Dodgers know from this point forward the Padres will win more than the Dodgers.
The final wish on this list is to have baseball in 2021 simply. With the COVID-19 pandemic getting worse by the day, people are losing loved ones, jobs, and businesses. It’s baseball that is a shining beacon of hope that all baseball fans look forward to. It’s so wonderful to have this sport that brings so many of us together. People with no business talking to each other are instantly the best of friends because of a slick team logo on a brown baseball cap. There are certainly more important things globally, but having baseball provides so much happiness to so many people. If we only received one wish on this list, it would be this one.
All of us at East Village Times wish you and yours a very safe and happy holiday season.
Lifelong Padre fan born and raised in San Diego, currently living in Temecula. The editors make me sound smart.