The San Diego Padres need assistance in developing their 2017 roster. The team has plenty of young offensive players, but does lack pitching at the moment.
The starting staff is made up mostly of veteran pitchers who will all compete for a roster spot. Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, Trevor Cahill, Jarred Cosart, Paul Clemens, and Christian Friedrich are the veterans, while Luis Perdomo, Tyrell Jenkins, and Cesar Vargas provide a youthful mix to what should be a very interesting battle.
The Padres’ bullpen is presently in decent shape, but that does not matter. If there is undervalued talent available on the open market, then the Padres will surely take a look at them. At this point, the team is attempting to build for the future and any player who can be obtained and flipped for prospects will be considered.
Brandon Maurer, Carter Capps, Ryan Buchter, Brad Hand, Kevin Quackenbush, and Buddy Baumann provide a great variety of arms currently in the bullpen. There are many young options in the minors as well, as Jose Torres, Brad Wieck, and Phil Maton are all close to being major league ready. The bullpen looks like a positive for this young Padres team, but that doesn’t mean that A.J. Preller won’t move an arm or two out of the pen and look to replace them with an undervalued arm.
There are some very good options currently on the open market as far as relievers go. This time of the year is when the best bargain shopping is done, as these players are eager to sign. As a veteran pitcher, it is your worst nightmare to not be able to find a job come spring.
Let us take a look at who is left and if the Padres will have any interest.
This right-handed pitcher is one of the best relievers still currently looking for a job for the 2017 season. Hochevar is 33 and coming off a year in K.C. where he went 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.071 WHIP in 37 innings. He is a strikeout pitcher, as he K’d 40 batters last year. His season ended in July after he underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder (thoracic outlet syndrome). The big right-hander should be ready for the season despite the injury. The Royals denied a seven million dollar option on him for the 2017 season because of his slight injury issue. Hochevar has a career record of 46-65 with a 4.98 ERA in 929 major league innings. When healthy, he can be quite good, so keep an eye on where he ends up.
This 31-year-old, right-handed reliever goes under the radar for the most part, but is really quite consistent. He spent last season in Philadelphia where he went 3-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 70 games and 72 innings pitched. He struck out 80 batters in that time, and can be a solid option in the middle of a game for a ball club. Hernandez has a 28-39 career record with a 4.10 ERA in his seven years of major league service time. He made $3.5 million last year and will look for a one-year deal at around the same price.
In his nine-year career, Tommy Hunter has had plenty of opportunities, but just hasn’t been able to cash in. At 30, and with a nine-year career in the majors, he is a seasoned veteran. The right-handed pitcher still has some life left in his arm as he went 2-2 last season with a 3.18 ERA in 34 innings pitched between Cleveland and Baltimore. He has been a starter in the past, but he is probably not an option in that capacity anymore.
Ugh. His days are probably over as he is viewed by most as a cancer to a clubhouse. The veteran closer will always be remembered for choking Bryce Harper in the dugout of a Nationals game after he thought Harper wasn’t hustling. Papelbon does not have a problem saying what is on his mind and that can be an issue. He had a decent year last year in Washington where he went 2-4 with a 4.37 ERA in 37 games while recording 19 saves. He owns 368 career saves and might still have something to offer if he keeps his mouth shut. That is a big if, though.
This 28-year-old right-handed pitcher went 2-2 last year with a 3.41 ERA in 29 games and 31 innings pitched for the Cardinals. He is not a strikeout pitcher as he only struck out 16 batters last season, but he does change speeds and generally can be counted on to get an out. He owns a career record of 17-10 in 244 games and he maintains a career 3.19 ERA. He is not flashy, but could be an interesting option for a team looking for a change-of-speed pitcher out of their bullpen.
This former can’t-miss prospect from the Dodgers has had a decent, but underwhelming, major league career. In his 14 years in the league he has recorded 93 wins, but has lost 114 games. That has always been the book on Edwin. He can throw a no-hitter one night, and five nights later get lit up like a Christmas tree. He has excellent stuff and possess a rubber arm, but just cannot ever seemingly find consistency. He went 5-6 last year for the Padres with a 5.89 ERA in 13 starts. Those numbers are exactly what you should expect from this 33-year-old at this point in his career. Perhaps a move to the bullpen full-time will be the boost he needs for his career. Who knows.
This list is quickly getting shorter as teams fill out their rosters for the upcoming spring. The Padres might have some interest in a couple of these arms, but they are in no position to pay top dollar. They instead will try to sign players that are just looking to play. The Padres will sign players to league minimum deals and minor league deals and try to find a diamond in the rough. Edwin Jackson makes sense possibly if he agrees to start in Triple-A, and provide depth for the major league team. Hernandez, Hochevar, and Hunter are decent arms, but the Padres will not pay millions of dollars to fill out their roster at this point. That makes no sense. The season is approaching quickly. Baseball is near.