In a quest for starting pitching, should the San Diego Padres contact the St. Louis Cardinals about right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver, who has fallen out of favor with the Red Birds?
There is no doubt that the San Diego Padres need starting pitching.
In an attempt to gather hurlers for the upcoming season and beyond, a trade seems likely.
The Padres have loads of depth in regard to pitching prospects, but they are just that — prospects. There is no given. Their future is not set in stone.
You hear about the Padres and the fact they have been linked to names like Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Michael Fulmer. Those are ace-like pitchers and are not cheap. If the Padres want to swing a deal with the Mets, they will have to pay a hefty price.
Instead of dealing multiple top prospects, the Padres could explore acquiring pitchers who are undervalued, pitchers who could be on the verge of breaking out in one way or another — something along the lines of when the club picked up Drew Pomeranz and Tyson Ross from the A’s for prospects. They were acquired in separate deals, but the Padres took advantage of the situation and each pitcher blossomed in San Diego.
The Darren Balsley factor is real. He has the ability to really get through to young pitchers, especially those who have struggled at the major league level already. In searching for young arms, the Padres will surely take a look at the St. Louis Cardinals.
Carlos Martinez would be nice, but the Cards would want a huge haul in return for the pitcher.
At the moment, the Cardinals have an excess of starting pitchers. Carlos Martinez and Miles Mikolas are locks for rotation spots for the 2019 season, and so is 23-year-old Jack Flaherty. That leaves three spots left for Luke Weaver, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Dakota Hudson, John Gant, Daniel Poncedeleon, and Austin Gomber to battle it out. Talented youngster Alex Reyes also figures in here to some degree. Wacha and Wainwright figure to have the upper hand to complete the rotation, so the Cardinals have depth.
Luke Weaver is an interesting option for the Padres. The 25-year-old strike-thrower has an excellent fastball and changeup combination. In 2017, he was 7-2 with a 3.88 ERA and a 1.260 WHIP in 13 games and 60 innings pitched. He started the 2018 season in the Cardinals’ rotation, but was removed down the stretch, and even sent to Triple-A at one point. He ended 2018 with a 7-11 record and a 4.95 ERA in 30 games and 136 innings pitched. The Cardinals might have soured a bit on the hurler, and now could be the time to step in and take advantage of the situation.
So why exactly would the Padres want him?
At the moment, the team should be collecting multiple young, controllable arms (Weaver is not due for free agency until 2024) and seeing which of them develops. Luke Weaver is not an ace at the moment. He is armed with a mid 90’s fastball and a plus change, but there is still work to do. In reality, he is more along the lines of a mid-rotation starter than an ace. He needs to find consistency with a third pitch (cutter/slider) and possibly put some muscle of his frame. If he checks those boxes, he could emerge in time.
The St. Louis Cardinals will trade a starting pitcher this winter. It could be Wacha. It could be Weaver. It could even be Carlos Martinez if they find a team to meet their asking price. The Cards need relief help at the major league level, and also could use a corner infielder. The Padres have multiple prospects that would also entice St. Louis, but it really depends on what they are looking for.
Weaver could fetch a prospect or two in return from the Padres, or the Cardinals could ask for a bullpen piece like Phil Maton or Jose Castillo. Anything can happen, but these two teams do match up well in a potential trade. Keep an eye on this situation as the hot stove starts to heat up this winter. A.J. Preller and the Padres will be active.