As the first month of the offseason comes to a close, and the calendar turns to December, the San Diego Padres have filled multiple holes as they continue to build out their roster for the 2023 season. There is, however, more work to be done.
The Padres started the offseason by re-signing reliever Robert Suarez to a five-year, $46 million deal, with a player opt-out after three years. They continued their spending spree by bringing back versatile pitcher Nick Martinez to a three-year deal worth up to $42 million.
In their most recent move, they signed veteran starter Julio Teheran to a minor league deal worth $6 million if he reaches the major leagues.
Even with these moves, the Padres still have multiple holes to fill. They were previously linked to first baseman Jose Abreu before he signed a three-year, $58.5 million deal with the Houston Astros. They reportedly have a strong interest in former Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, as the team may be emerging as a surprise suitor for a strong shortstop free-agent class that also includes Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, and Carlos Correa.
However, the team’s most imminent need remains starting pitching. Former Mets starting pitcher and current free agent Chris Bassitt is among the many options the team is considering signing ahead of the 2023 season.
After signing Martinez, the Padres have seemingly filled four of the five spots in the starting rotation as he joins Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove. It’s important to note that Darvish and Snell have only one year of control remaining before hitting free agency, and the Padres lack current starting pitching depth in the upper minors after dealing multiple pitching prospects to acquire Josh Hader, Juan Soto, and Josh Bell this past August. The Padres had previously expressed interest in signing Darvish to an extension, but it remains to be seen how they will allocate their financial resources as they approach the luxury tax threshold for a third consecutive season.
Another Padres starter in 2022 and potential cost-effective fit, Mike Clevinger, recently agreed to a one-year deal worth $12 million with the Chicago White Sox as he looks to bounce back from a turbulent season.
While the rotation was a major strength for the Padres in 2022, they will still enter Spring Training with a bevy of questions. Darvish is coming off his best season in nearly a decade, but can he be expected to turn in similar results in his Age-37 season? Snell is younger and still in the prime of his career but has only cleared 130 innings once in his career (his 2018 Cy Young-award winning season). Musgrove has turned in back-to-back solid seasons, but can he be expected to make 30 effective starts again as he gets older? Will Martinez be able to stick in the rotation for a full season after being far more effective as a reliever in 2022?
Enter Bassitt. Coming off a strong season where he went 15-9 with a 3.42 ERA across 181 innings, Bassitt hits the free-agent market as one of the better starters available. While he won’t command the same AAV as Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom, or Carlos Rodon, he’ll likely receive a multi-year contract worth at least $15-20 million annually.
Though Bassitt will turn 34 before the start of the 2023 season, he’s been one of the more durable starters in baseball over the past four years. He has cleared 140 innings and made at least 27 starts in three of the past four seasons, with the exception being the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
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A Bassitt signing would give the Padres a fifth and final starter to round out their rotation for the 2023 season. He has a prior relationship to Padres manager Bob Melvin when the two were together in Oakland, and he would help subdue some of the urgency the Padres will face regarding their rotation after the 2023 season. He is also likely to cost less than another Padres rotation target, Kodai Senga, and comes with a track record of success in the Major Leagues after being named an All-Star in 2021 and posting top-10 Cy Young finishes in two of the past three seasons.
Signing Bassitt would also give the Padres one of the deepest and most formidable rotations in the MLB in 2023 as they look to return to the National League Championship Series for back-to-back years. Though his contract would push the Padres above the luxury tax threshold, the Padres and owner Peter Seidler have signaled they are willing to do so for the right price and players. Bassitt, for the right price, could arguably turn into one of the more valuable signings in recent years.
Sammy is a 2021 graduate/college baseball player with a degree in economics from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Currently, he resides in a suburb of Portland called Lake Oswego. Sammy previously wrote for EVT from November 2017-November 2019, and is back again as of April 2022.
In his free time, Sammy enjoys spending time outside, playing golf, and watching his hometown Padres.