Taking a look at some of the free-agent options for the San Diego Padres as they search for pitching.
With a young pitching staff, the San Diego Padres require a veteran leader.
Not just a pitcher with tenure, as they have that in right-hander Garrett Richards. For lack of better words- the team needs an ace.
For the Padres to be a relevant team in the NL West, they need a pitcher they can count on to end a losing streak. They need a stopper and someone who other teams fear. Chris Paddack has that potential, and so do MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino, who are presently in the minors. But the trio of youngsters will take time to develop genuinely into that role.
No ace can be found on the free-agent market, but there are some options for the Padres in their search for starting pitching.
Here are some players who could be of interest as they are still available to sign with whomever they want. Ryu and Keuchel could potentially eat innings and be top-of-the-order pitchers, but both come with a great deal of risk. Beyond the two lefties, there are a few pitchers who could provide relief for the Padres in a long season.
Current free-agent options
This 32-year-old left-handed pitcher is arguably the best option available, but he will not be cheap. He reportedly wants a deal close to what the Diamondbacks gave Madison Bumgarner (5-years/$85 million). It remains to be seen if that is what he will get as he has a track record of injuries that limit his overall appeal. Ryu is a good pitcher with tendencies to be great, but he is not someone to count on, and it is hard to believe reliability will come with age.
Rivaling the value of Ryu is this southpaw who pitched last season in Atlanta. He only threw half a season because there was a draft pick attached to his name the previous winter. Keuchel is a former AL Cy Young-Award winner and has proven to be reasonably durable during his eight-year career. He would likely not require a four 0r five year deal at top dollar and could be an excellent value-selection for the Padres.
“King” Felix is only 33 years of age but has thrown an amazing amount of pitches in his career. From 2006-2015, Hernandez recorded 2,176.2 innings for the Mariners. He was a durable workhorse, but those days are over. The velocity on his fastball is gone, and it is likely not ever going to return. The pitcher has made over $217 million in his career, so the money will not be a deciding factor for him if he chooses to return. The Padres tend to be nostalgic when it comes to free agency, but this seems unlikely for the team.
Shoulder surgery ended his 2019 season, and he will miss the start of the coming year, but this 27-year-old could be an attractive investment. The Barstow California native has terrific stuff but has been limited by injuries virtually his whole career. The 2016 AL All-Star won 15 games that year, showing promise for the Blue Jays. Being that he is injured, he would not require a multiple-year deal or a huge payday. This is a decent option if his medicals look clean.
“The Dark Knight” has fallen from All-Star status but is still 30 years of age. He will likely continue to pitch somewhere despite recording a 7.09 ERA last year for the Angels. Harvey played for $11 million last season and will only make a fraction of that this year if signed by someone. He has a spotty record in the clubhouse and some serious issues on the mound, to be expected to return to who he once was as a New York Met. Harvey will sign somewhere, but it likely will not be with the Padres unless they are sure about his mentality moving forward.
This talented left-handed pitcher missed all of the 2017 and 2018 seasons following Tommy John surgery. He was 4-7 last year with a 6.74 ERA for the Rangers and Phillies, striking out 120 batters in 21 starts and 114 innings pitched. He always could punch out batters and was once considered a decent young pitcher with the Tigers. The 30-year-old can still start a game but might turn out to be a dominant reliever at the end of the day. The Padres could have some interest as Smyly could fill a role similar to what Robbie Erlin did last year for the team.
This former Padres’ right-handed pitcher had a rough year in 2019, pitching for the Brewers and Red Sox. He went 3-12 with a 6.01 ERA as his trademark slider was just not effective. The 32-year-old went 13-10 for the Padres in 2017 and recorded a 3.89 ERA. He could be an option for the team as they are familiar with what he brings to the table. He could help eat innings at the end of the rotation.
At 34, Bailey is not a young pitcher. He successfully made it through the 2019 season, going 13-9 with a 4.57 ERA between the A’s and the Royals. He struck out 149 batters in 163 innings pitched and could still be a reliable source of innings pitched for a team. Bailey has made over $90 million in his career and will likely not be looking for top dollar. To him, the correct situation should be his main focus. A transition to the bullpen could be for him as he might experience an uptick in stuff only needing to throw in short stints.