The Padres made a few moves to shore up their starting rotation for 2023. However, if they want to reach their lofty goals, this needs to only be the beginning of the rotation reform.
The Padres made the re-signing of Nick Martinez official last week. Most assume that Martinez will be given a real chance to earn a starting rotation spot for 2023, given his solid performance in various roles last season.
Gone are Mike Clevinger (White Sox) and, for now, Sean Manaea, who remains a free agent. Six different Padres made more than ten starts last season, and as of now, three of them will not be part of the 2023 rotation (MacKenzie Gore made 13 before being traded to Washington).
Julio Teheran signed a minor league deal this week. Even with him being a former All-Star, expectations must be tempered. He has only made 10 MLB starts since the end of 2019, with an 8.92 ERA. Since then, he bounced around independent ball, the Mexican League, and Dominican Winter League. The Padres cannot count on him to become much. If he rekindles his mid-2010s Braves self and becomes a viable fifth starter, that is an enormous boost.
As of now, the rotation consists of Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, with Nick Martinez as the best option for a fourth starter currently on the roster. After that, it’s a list of unknowns, unproven, or has-beens.
As it stands now, this starting rotation is not playoff-worthy. Of course, the offseason is just getting started. Plenty of quality arms are still unsigned. Plus, as we know with A.J. Preller, a trade or two is always on the table.
Jacob deGrom, Carlos Rodon, and Justin Verlander headline the free-agent class of starters. None of them have signed anywhere yet. Money could be an issue with the Padres tied up in some big stars and having just extended Joe Musgrove to the tune of 20 $million per season. Thinking cheap might be in play.
On the trade block, Pablo Lopez from Miami merits a big haul, given his age, production, and years of control. Tyler Mahle is a good option for the back end of the rotation if the Padres can swing a deal with Minnesota.
However it happens, the Padres must continue to address pitching. Re-signing Martinez and taking a flyer on Teheran was a good start, but not nearly enough.
The biggest difference between the 2021 Padres faltering down the stretch and the 2022 version making a run to the NLCS was the depth of the pitching staff. With some of that depth taking a hit this offseason, they must replenish.
All of the top five teams in starter ERA and all of the top seven in innings pitched by starters were teams in the playoffs last season. Starting depth is vital to a postseason run.