Changes imminent for the Padres bullpen

Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Padres

The Padres have more options than spots available for their Opening Day roster. 

Thanks to several moves and returning healthy players, the Friars have an embarrassment of riches in the bullpen.

Of course, Kirby Yates is not going anywhere at the back end of the Padres ‘pen as the closer, fresh off of his first All-Star campaign. Recent acquisitions Drew Pomeranz and Emilio Pagan will likely serve as the setup men from either side in the eighth inning.

Beyond those three, something has got to give for the other presumed five spots.

One would think Craig Stammen, Andres Muñoz, and Matt Strahm are locks for the bullpen as well. This leaves two spots open for Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, Cal Quantrill, Jose Castillo, Luis Perdomo, with other hopeful prospects like former Japanese League hurler Pierce Johnson.

The Friars are hoping to stretch Baez into a starter, which could take him out of the race for a bullpen spot and also mean he could start the season in El Paso to hone his skills as a starter.

Spots are limited for a guy like Morejon, who is trying to elbow his way into the bullpen. If he does not grab hold of a place in the spring, he will start the season down in the minors, and the Friars may explore options to deal the Cuban lefty.

There is a tricky situation brewing with one Javy Guerra entering the mix. He is out of Minor League options, so the Padres cannot keep him off of the Opening Day roster without exposing him to waivers. Plus, based on what fans and coaches have seen this spring, it might not be a wise move to let him go for nothing.

Guerra is wildly talented and also incredibly raw. This could mean the Padres have a failed prospect trying to hopelessly resurrect his career- or the next Trevor Hoffman (another failed shortstop project). If the Friars let Guerra walk, it could come back to bite them in a significant way.

His stuff is major league-good, with a lively fastball that flirts with 100 mph. He has pitched five scoreless outings thus far in Spring Training, with five strikeouts and one walk.

This means the Friars have six legitimate, big league-caliber arms for two spots, one of them being a spot for Guerra if the Padres are serious about not losing him to a rival.

In this case, it seems that a reshuffling of the deck is imminent, be it by trade or a surprising cut or unforeseen injury. Something will have to give for one of several quality options to make the team. There will be a few big-league arms either down in El Paso or on the trading block.

General manager A.J. Preller is never afraid to swing a deal between the start of Spring Training and Opening Day. He pulled the trigger to acquire All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel on April 5, 2015, mere hours before Opening Day.

The Friars have needs elsewhere on the team and can afford to pluck from their full inventory of relievers to include in a trade.

It looks like there are too many cooks in the kitchen with this stable bullpen staff, which is a great problem to have but would be unfortunate to let solid arms walk for little or nothing in return.

San Diego’s front office should pay close attention to the developing bullpen situation and see if there is a possible deal to be made to upgrade the team elsewhere.

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Nick Lee
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.

5 thoughts on “Changes imminent for the Padres bullpen

  1. With so many teams desperate for pitching, I’m surprised we haven’t bundled a few arms and Naylor for a high end prospect(s) at AA in another system. We still have way too many questions to answer and too many players for the positions we have.

    I’d hate for us to lose too many of them because they’re out of options and AJ is backed into a corner trying to get nothing for something.

    If options are available then those players need to be in AAA. If we have a plethora of arms and position players then we have leverage at the trading deadline.

  2. I would agree something’s got to give…unless they just go forward with a million arms, back there…infusing the pen with these extra arms according to what injuries in the rotation and bullpen dictate. Perfect example of what I’m talking about, happened in the game against LA, yesterday. By the time, Richards, Stammen and Pomeranz were done, the rest of the pen, leaked runs like water.

    Yea, in a perfect scenario, you would stretch out all three of those guys, and what the lesser arms do or cant do, don’t matter…but still the lesser arms have got to figure out how to stop giving up 3 and 4 runs…I don’t care if it’s just a Spring Training game. The Dodgers are the sort of club that will grind your pitching to a pulp.. so the Padres bullpen will be even more effective when the “embarrassment of riches”, they call a bullpen, isn’t coming into the game, by the time the 5th inning rolls around. And when they do, they aren’t bleeding runs. What’s the use in having so many arms, otherwise?

  3. There is a need at catcher make a deal .2nd base is Locked up 3 ways.crownworth and garcia and garcia as back ups .send the good young rookie down one more year.hedges is finished in my opion.great on defense ,no bat.great time to move myers ,hot spring may help.the young talent is starting to back up in center.almonte is pushing on the door .almonte did this same thing a few year ago in spring ,then died in regular season .Taylor reminds me of a willie mage e, but bigger.i like him but one more year at triple a will only help .call him up at the break if need be.you have naylor,almonte ,myers, and cordero.who will leave ,who has options left.ty france plays like jed jerko.total hustler and he catches.if need be.????????

  4. Too many good pitchers in the bullpen is a great problem to have…

    Obviously, Yates, Pomeranz and Pagan are locks. IMO, so are Stammen, Munoz and Strahm. Morejon and Baez will be AAA starters. Perdomo is too inconsistent so he headed to AAA or released (not sure his options status).

    To me, Quantrill is my long man out of the pen, and spot starter, or steps in the rotation if someone gets hurt. Johnson in intriguing and probably makes the pen.

    Guerra is definitely turning heads. He has only been pitching for 11 months now, but throws 97-99, but with a good secondary pitch AND with control. And with no options left, no way I let him walk…Pads can’t let him be “the one that got away!”.

    Oh, and Cronenworth makes the team as the 26th man. He plays all over the infield, can hit and in my plan, also pitches in extra inning games and the blowout games this year, so next year he can qualify as a designated 2 way player.

    1. If there really is such thing as a two way player, Cronenworth is THAT guy…man, he’s been impressive. Like Stammen said about him, ‘ he’s that rare guy that just does everything, well..and that’s rare”. He’s what they wanted Bethancourt to be…

      I’d definitely hold onto Cronenworth, Guerra (unless they can trade him for something pretty significant)…and Baez, who can do what Quantrill can do, transitioning between the rotation and the pen.

      Goodbye to Perdomo…who is basically what Robbie Erlin was for so many yrs, here..just hanging on.

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