The 2016 season went just as expected for the San Diego Padres. After a failed 2015 season following a frenzy of offseason moves, it was clear the Padres were looking to start over a bit in 2016.
Not only was Justin Upton no longer in a Padres uniform, but Craig Kimbrel was shipped to the Boston Red Sox for a significant prospect return. Following the 2016 trade deadline, Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton would join them in wearing uniforms other than that of the Padres.
Going into this offseason, the Padres are in a much better position than they were just one year ago. The farm system has been restocked, and the future looks truly bright for the first time in quite a few years. There is still a lot of work left to be done to make the Padres a contender, but there is no doubt that the organization is finally on some sort of planned track.
This leaves us to look ahead at the 2017 Padres. It is clear there is little chance of this organization fielding a winner in 2017. A majority of the team’s best prospects are still a few years from contributing at the big league level, and outside of Wil Myers, Yangervis Solarte, and a few other potential surprise players, the big league roster is largely devoid of impactful talent. Nowhere does this ring more true than in the Padres rotation.
After finishing out the 2016 season with a ragtag rotation with the likes of Luis Perdomo, Christian Friedrich, Jarred Cosart, and Edwin Jackson, among others, the Padres have plenty of space to make upgrades. Given the surprise non-tender of Tyson Ross, outside of the aforementioned Perdomo, the Padres realistically have four open rotation spots for 2017.
With the Winter Meetings underway, the Padres, like many other teams, have a shopping list of needs they are looking to check off. Given that the Padres play their home games at Petco Park, the organization has an advantage that few other teams have. Unlike any other team, the Padres can afford to take chances on pitchers who struggled elsewhere in hopes of turning around their careers. With Drew Pomeranz as the most recent example of this working flawlessly, here are a few pitchers the Padres should target in free agency this winter.
Atop the Padres priority list should be former Texas Rangers left-hander Derek Holland. Following an injury plagued season in 2016, the Rangers declined to pick up the lefties’ $11 million option for the 2017 season, making Holland a free agent. Although it has only been a few weeks since the conclusion of the postseason, Holland’s name has drawn quite a bit of attention around the league.
According to several reports, Derek Holland has not only shown interest in a new deal with the Rangers, but he has also shown interest in signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Beyond that, both the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres have reached out to Holland’s representation to show their early interest. Although the Pirates and Yankees both appear to be logical fits as well, the Padres seem to be the clearest fit of all.
Despite losing the better part of the last three seasons to various injuries and ailments, Holland is still only thirty years old with a proven track record prior to those injuries. More importantly for the Padres, the team has very little salary on the books for 2017, putting them in prime position to beat out any other team in offering Holland a one or two year contract with the most money. With AJ Preller’s firsthand knowledge of Holland and the Rangers organization, the Padres general manager may be able to offer a fit that no other team is able to match.
Holland was somewhat ineffective in just over 100 innings in 2016, sporting a 4.95 ERA and 4.75 FIP, but as recently as 2013 Holland was a four-plus win pitcher by Fangraphs WAR for the Texas Rangers. As a more fly ball heavy pitcher who struggles to collect high strikeout numbers, Holland could be a perfect fit for spacious Petco Park. Holland may not be a long term fit, but a successful first half could make Holland a very enticing trade chip come deadline time. For the Padres, no other free agent pitcher is a more logical fit.
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