Padres’ Search for Pitching Could End with Tampa Bay Rays

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Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo


It is important to remember that these two clubs have hooked up on a couple of deals in the past two seasons.

Wil Myers, Jesse Hahn, and  Alex Torres were all acquired from the Rays. The two GMs are familiar with each other and have a solid relationship to potentially build upon.

Its obvious the Padres have major league talent that can help the Rays. That is important for Tampa Bay, as they are not looking for a full rebuild. They want to field a competitive team and are just looking to move some of their pitching for offensive help. They want players that can contribute right away and are not teenagers.

The Rays have a core group of young pitchers that are just about ready for major league service time. Brent Honeywell, Chih-Wei Hu, Jacob Faria, Jaime Schultz, and Taylor Guerrieri are all very close, and the team is only doing what needs to be done to survive. You have to be creative like that when you are in the A.L. East and trying to compete with the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, and Blue Jays.

The following foursome could help the Padres in the 2017 season and beyond. A deal could be worked out.

Alex Cobb

The least valuable out of this foursome is Alex Cobb, as he is coming off Tommy John surgery and missed all of the 2015 season. Cobb went 1-2 last year and recorded a 8.54 ERA with a 1.773 WHIP. He was recovering from the elbow surgery, so just being out on the mound was a victory in itself. He does own a 36-25 career record with a 3.44 ERA and a 1.216 WHIP. Cobb was a fourth-round pick by the Rays in the 2006 draft. His value is low currently, just like Norris, so perhaps a swap of the two players is what is best for the two teams.

The Padres could take a chance on Cobb in his contract year with hopes he regains his former abilities. The right-handed pitcher would be a huge question mark though, and that is not exactly what the Padres need in the rotation currently. Although, with a great first half, he could be flipped in July for prospects. Cobb is probably of interest to the Padres, but in my opinion these other three pitchers are of far more priority when it comes to trade talk. Though Norris’ value is low, the Padres would still not be inclined to trade him for a pitcher who is coming off surgery and only under team control for one year. Cobb is probably on the back burner for now, but something could arise if his price is low enough for the Padres to take a gamble on him.

Drew Smyly

Credit; Getty Images
Credit; Getty Images

The 27-year-old left-handed pitcher has been hit and miss, virtually his whole career. He looks outstanding one start, only to get knocked around the next. His 2016 season was forgettable as he went 7-12 on the year with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.272 WHIP. He did strike out 167 batters in 175 innings though. He owns a career ERA of 3.74 to go along with a 31-27 record in 570 innings, so the ability is there, and it is very real.

Smyly is under team control through the 2018 season and made $3.75 million last year in arbitration. The Padres could package Norris with a prospect to get a deal done, but there are issues with Smyly and his health that need to be further evaluated. A partially torn rotator cuff sidelined him part of his 2015 season. He chose not to undergo surgery and instead elected for rehab on the shoulder. He made it through last year without reporting any issues, but you have to wonder if he is a ticking time bomb. That is a valid concern if you are a team looking to deal for the lefty. Especially when you factor in the numbers he put up last season. Smyly would be an upgrade for the Padres’ rotation, but only if he is healthy enough to pitch.

Jake Odorizzi

The right-handed pitcher had a solid year in 2016 when he started 33 games for the Rays. He went 10-6 on the season with a 3.69 ERA and a 1.194 WHIP. At 26, he is still extremely young and is not due for free agency until the 2020 season. His value is high and the Padres would have to pay a decent asking price. Derek Norris would only be a small fraction of what the Rays would require for him. The Friars would probably have to part with Alex Dickerson and a bullpen arm along with Norris to even start the negotiation.

Odorizzi is not a power arm and relies on the art of pitching to be effective. He has thrown over 168 innings the past three seasons for the Rays and has really flown under the radar. He has a career 30-30 record with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.214 WHIP in over 562 innings. Getting out of the A.L. East and into a big ballpark like Petco could increase his numbers even more. Not to mention working with Darren Balsley. Ordorizzi is an interesting option for the Padres, as he provides a team-controlled pitcher and also gives a different look than the Padres’ power throwing right-handed pitchers, Tyson Ross and Luis Perdomo. This would be a guy I would target if I were the Padres. His value is decent, but yet you do not have to overpay, and he could actually take a step forward as he is young enough to develop.

Chris Archer

The obvious catch out of this foursome is this young man. He, at the age of 28, is one of the brightest young pitchers in the game. So why would the Rays deal him? Well they do, as  I mentioned, have young starting pitchers waiting to come up, but they also realize his value is high right now. The team knows the starting pitching market is really thin at the moment and Archer is very valuable on the trade market. If a potential trade partner is going to pay the price for Archer, then they will definitely trade the pitcher. In recent weeks, Archer has criticized the Rays’ ownership, stating that the team needs more players to win. Perhaps he is rubbing the group the wrong way and they would like to maximize their profits from the right-hander?

Archer went 9-19 last season with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.242 WHIP. Not his best season, but he does own a career 3.51 ERA in 126 starts. He struck out 233 batters last year and has electric, top-of-the-order type stuff. So with all that being said about Archer, do the Padres have what it would take for his services? The answer is yes, but they would be hard-pressed to give up what the Rays would command. Right off the bat, the Rays would ask for Austin Hedges in a deal for Archer. That alone may kill the deal for the Padres, as they are not likely interested in moving the young backstop. Names like Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot will also be brought up by the Rays. In all honestly, a package of Norris, Maurer, Solarte, and Dickerson would do absolutely nothing for the Rays. Archer is a special talent and he is also under team control for five years at a very reasonable price. He will make $4.9 million in 2017, $6.416 million in 2018, $7.66 million for 2019, $9 million (or a $1.75 million dollar buyout) for 2020 and $11 million (or $250 K buyout) for the 2021 season.  That’s $38.982 million for five years of his service. Chris Archer‘s value is extremely high right now, and in all reality, the Padres would be hard-pressed to pay the asking price. They aren’t going to move Hedges, Renfroe, or Margot, and that is what it would take. If the team was closer to competing, then things might be different.


The match between these two teams is real and each could benefit from a trade. Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb make the most sense for the Padres. Archer would cost too much and Smyly seems like a real health concern for the Rays’ potential asking price. On the other hand, Cobb shouldn’t cost the Padres much. Like I stated, he could also be flipped (after being acquired and utilized for four months) at the trade deadline before he hits free agency. He is not a long-term answer, but Alex Cobb could be one of those guys you buy low and sell high on. The asking price is the only hurdle. Jake Odorizzi is the pitcher who is worth a decent package of players. If it means dealing a few current players on the 40-man roster for his services, then so be it. He is under team control until 2020, and is still young enough to get better. Again, what would it take and how much are the Padres willing to pay? Stay tuned. The winter meetings are about to heat up and the Padres will surely be on the prowl. A.J. Preller will soon be Prelling.

3 thoughts on “Padres’ Search for Pitching Could End with Tampa Bay Rays

  1. I think they need to pick up Nathan Eovaldi. He has the arm. Balsley has the knowledge. He’d be a buy low free agent and could turn things around.

    1. I agree Rick, buy I am pretty sure Eovaldi is out for all of next year with an arm injury. The Padres played that game with both Johnson and Morrow and hot virtually no production out of either. It will be interesting to see what Preller and Co. Come up with this winter.

  2. Hey James, the only one of these pitchers I see fitting the Padres plan would be Odorizzi. Because of him being under team control unitl 2020, he could still be aprt of the team when the Padres hopefuly start to contend (2018, 2019?) However, I would only make this deal if they can get him for the right price. If the Padres could pry him away for Norris, Dickerson and Hand/Buchter, (as you mentioned) then I am sure Preller and Co. would have made that trade yesterday. With pitching be so highly sought after now in baseball, I do not see that package being anywhere near enough to get a deal done though. It would be nice for the Padres to bring in Odorizzi and hopefully speed up the time frame of contention, but they seem to have finally bit the bullet and went all in on the rebuild, now is not the time to start dealing any of their top prospects for “now help” in my opinion. It would also be interesting to see not only what Balsley could get out of Odorizzi, but also to see Odorizzi and Myers back together, once two very highly touted prospects for the Royals/Rays organizations.

    As usual James, nice article.

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