Jordan Hicks will be of interest to Padres this winter

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Free agent right-handed pitcher Jordan Hicks should be of interest to the San Diego Padres this winter.

In order to win it all, a Major League Baseball franchise must possess a deep pitching staff.

The San Diego Padres’ ultimate goal is to be champions, so it is natural that they will search for pitching this winter.

In 2023, the Padres did not suffer from major issues from their pitching staff. The unit finished second in the National League with a 3.73 ERA and was fifth in WHIP at 1.27 for the season. Blake Snell looks like a shoo-in for the N.L. Cy Young-award and Josh Hader saved 33 games and put up a 1.28 ERA. The failures of the team were based on untimely hitting and just plain old bad luck.

A.J. Preller is tasked with several issues to resolve this winter.

Not even discussing the Juan Soto saga, the Padres have three key free agents to negotiate with this off-season. Blake Snell, Josh Hader, and Gary Sanchez are all free agents. The team also lost Michael Wacha, Nick Martinez, and Seth Lugo as all will be free agents this winter, and each could pitch elsewhere in 2024. Decisions will need to be made about the roster.

If the Padres were to lose Hader via free agency, logic dictates that Robert Suarez would be in line for closing duties. The fireballing right-handed pitcher started the 2023 season on the I.L. but pitched in 26 games for the Padres and put up a 4.23 ERA. With only one career save (earned in 2022) from Suarez, there are reasons to be a little concerned if you are a Padres fan. Can he endure a full season of closing?

Suarez may be able to close, but the Padres should have a backup plan. They need to have a backup plan.

There are some well-known closers on the market besides Hader, but Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, and David Robertson come with obvious risks. It may be better to look for a young pitcher who could possibly emerge into the role. Time and time again, veteran pitchers seem to emerge in the closer role throughout the league.

One name to keep an eye on is Jordan Hicks.

The former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher was traded this summer to the Blue Jays and finished out his contract in the American League. In May of 2018, Hicks was clocked at 105 mph twice in a game. Those two pitches were the 9th and 10th hardest thrown balls since the 2008 season. Aroldis Chapman holds the other eight spots, including the fastest-thrown ball at 105.8 in 2010.

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Hicks throws gas, consistently sitting triple-digits with his fastball. In fact, his career average on the heater is 100.3 mph. The right-handed pitcher exemplifies exactly what you like to see from your finishing pitcher. At 27, Hicks’s best years on the mound may be ahead of him. Perhaps Ruben Niebla can unlock more from this pitcher?

On the open market, Hicks should be in demand. He made roughly $1.4 million last year in the final year of arbitration. Given his age, he should have no issues landing a multiple-year deal, and a team could invest three or four years into the pitcher. A pitcher like Hicks is valuable because he may easily outpitch his first contract in the majors.

In 2019, Jordan Hicks endured Tommy John surgery and battled through arm issues last season. There is some injury risk with this pitcher, but the reward is extremely high. For the Padres, if Hicks would come to San Diego on a team-friendly deal, then it is a no-brainer.

This winter, keep an eye on this situation as the Padres attempt to bolster their pitching staff for the 2024 season.

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