The Padres have already checked in on around 50 free agents since the end of the World Series.
One thing that A.J. Preller and Darren Balsley have been exceptionally good at over the past couple seasons is signing veteran arms, allowing them to rejuvenate their careers, and then flipping them for prospects. We’ve seen it with guys like Joaquin Benoit, Ryan Buchter, and even a 39-year-old Fernando Rodney. This trend could continue, if the Padres choose to bring back Brandon Morrow.
Brandon Morrow has had injury problems throughout his entire career. He’s had four different stints on the 15-day disabled list (DL), three of which he was transferred to the 60-day DL, and one other stint where he landed straight on the 60-day DL. In December of 2015, the Padres signed Morrow as a free agent and he was placed on the 15-day DL after just five appearances. During a rehab assignment, he found himself hurt again, landing him on the 60-day DL and ending his season.
However, the Padres saw fit to give the kid one more shot and signed him on for another season. He was resigned in December of 2015 to a minor league contract. The Padres had him start the season in Lake Elsinore, and from there he moved his way up to Triple-A El Paso in less than a month. After a short 7-day DL stint while in El Paso, Morrow made his season debut in August of 2016.
He was pretty impressive for the Padres in 2016, to say the least. He pitched 16.0 innings in 18 appearances, allowing just three earned runs despite allowing 19 hits and a .306 batting average against. He also managed a sub-1 WHIP with 0.92.
He was granted free agency after the 2016 season, and he went on to sign with the rival L.A. Dodgers for 2017. He managed to stay healthy all season long, and even became a dependable reliever for the Dodgers in the World Series.
He pitched in four straight games (4.0 IP) for the Dodgers in the World Series without allowing a single run. It wasn’t until his 5th appearance in six days that he got blown up for four runs, but you can’t really lay the blame on Morrow for that one. He showed his ability to be strong and reliable over the course of multiple high-pressure games. His fastball was topping out at 99 MPH in the playoffs and he coupled that with his strong cutter and tricky slider.
In his first fourteen playoff games, Morrow allowed just six earned runs (including the four from his World Series overload meltdown) in 13.2 innings pitched AND he went all season long without a significant injury for the first time in his career.
Sound a little more attractive now?
No veteran in the Padre bullpen, or anywhere really, is going to be safe this upcoming season. Brad Hand, the Padres closer, is already being mentioned among trade rumors again, and I’d be surprised if Preller doesn’t move him before the trade deadline in 2018. Which means once again, the Padres will be left without a strong late-reliever to close out close games.
This is where Brandon Morrow could come into play. Last season, he showcased his ability to pitch all season long and have continuous appearances throughout multiple high pressure games in the playoffs and be successful. The Padres could lure Morrow in and give him the opportunity to allow him to shine where he likes, whether that be as a late-reliever, or even closer once Hand gets moved. It all really depends on money as the Padres will not be a team that offers top dollar.
We saw the importance of having a strong bullpen during the playoffs, so if the Padres could land Morrow and pair him with Hand, then contending teams should be calling day-in and day-out begging the Padres to take their top prospects in exchange for Morrow and Hand.
Despite all the injuries and questions through Morrow’s career, he showcased his ability to be a reliable, late bullpen arm. That’s something every contending team needs, and it showed in the teams that fell short in the playoffs. If A.J. Preller can work his magic and convince Morrow to jump on board in San Diego, that’s one more guy we could be relying on to bring in top prospects for our thriving, young farm system.