Trading for an “ace” pitcher is the only way the 2020 San Diego Padres can add to their pitching staff.
The San Diego Padres’ staff for the 2020 season seems to be in place.
Penciled in as the top five starters are Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, Joey Lucchesi, Zach Davies, and Garrett Richards. Paddack and Lamet provide a swing and miss aspect to the rotation. Both pitchers have a dominant strikeout pitch (Paddack/changeup and Lamet/slider) and are young enough to provide some uncertainty to their overall value. Davies and Lucchesi are the perfect counter to the top two, as they do not use velocity to get hitters out. Richards is a wild card in the equation, and his health will be essential.
With all this depth, does the team need another starting pitcher?
An actual top-of-the-order presence would be a terrific addition to the Padres’ staff, but nearly every team in the majors can make that statement. Ace pitchers are few and far between, and you can count them on two hands if you really get down to analyzing that fact. With Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole off the free-agent market, the Padres have no other option than to potentially trade for someone who fits the bill of an ace.
Here are some options. They all come with some issues- whether it be the price tag, production, or general wear and tear.
The former Cy Young Award-winning pitcher is due $96 million for the next three seasons. There is some speculation that Wil Myers and his hefty contract would make sense for the two teams. Myers is due roughly $25 million less, and the Sox are trying to save money. Price was 7-5 last year with a 4.28 ERA and a 1.314 WHIP for Boston. There is an injury risk here as Price has a balky elbow and missed time last year with an injured wrist. There is potential for him to reach his peak once again, but there is a significant risk factor.
The 2019 American League All-Star was drafted by the Indians out of UCSB in 2016 with a fourth-round selection. The 24-year-old went 13-4 last year with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.054 WHIP. The right-hander struck out 259 batters in 214 innings pitched and looked dominant at times. He will not be a free agent until after the 2024 season. With four years of service time left on his contract, the Indians would need to be absolutely blown out of the water to trade even think about trading him.
At 29 (when the season begins), Clevinger is a superior option for the Indians via trade as they attempt to reshuffle their roster. The lanky right-handed pitcher has added velocity in recent years and teams with a hard biting slider. He went 13-4 in 2019 for the Indians, posting a 2.71 ERA and a 1.056 WHIP. He has three years of control on his contract and would not be someone who Cleveland gives away via trade. The price will be steep, but indications are the Indians are entertaining the idea.
Thor to San Diego is something that speculation seems to follow. The Padres are known to covet the right-handed pitcher as the two sides have communicated in the past. The Padres have never satisfied the Mets’ high asking price for Syndergaard. With Marcus Stroman and Jacob deGrom anchoring the rotation, New York could trade a pitcher to gain strength in other areas of weakness. Thor went 10-8 in 2019 with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.212 WHIP. Substantial numbers, but most feel the 27-year-old is on the verge of breaking out. The pitcher is a free agent after the 2021 season, so his price tag will still be inflated.
The 31-year-old pitcher has been excellent throughout his career but was roughed up in 2019 for the Pirates. Archer went 3-9 with a 5.19 ERA and a 1.412 WHIP. The National League has not been kind to the right-hander as he owns a 4.92 ERA in 33 starts. He is due $9 million in 2020 and has a team option of $11 million for 2021. The Pirates would not need to be overwhelmed in a deal for the pitcher because there is some risk with him. The two-time All-Star has potential but is he a better option for the Padres than what they currently possess.
With the signing of Madison Bumgarner, the Arizona Diamondbacks may be willing to move left-handed pitcher Robbie Ray. Strikeouts have never been an issue for Ray, but he has struggled with throwing strikes and working late into games. The southpaw went 12-9 last year with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.342 WHIP. This is his contract year, so the pitcher will be highly motivated to have a breakout year. The price tag shouldn’t be too expensive if the Padres care to take a chance on an inter-division trade.
Another pitcher in the final year of their contract is this small in stature pitcher. Stroman went 10-13 last year with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.307 WHIP between the Blue Jays and Mets. There are some whispers that New York could be swayed to move this pitcher over Noah Syndergaard in a potential deal. The Mets have issues and need to fill several holes on the roster. There is upside with Stroman, and he could be electric in a contract year. The Padres will surely explore this if New York is indeed willing to move the pitcher.