The signing of Jered Weaver by the Padres was probably the most obvious outcome of the entire off-season. At 34 years of age and coming off a horrible season, Weaver wasn’t quite ready to call it quits. However, with an average fastball velocity sitting just above 80, it was clear Weaver was going to have to look hard to find a real opportunity at meaningful innings in a rotation. Because of this, Weaver ended up settling to a contract with the Padres.
It’s clear that Weaver was dreadful in 2016, as shown by his plus-five ERA, FIP, and xFIP, not to mention his negative fWAR. Despite all that, Weaver was still durable, throwing over 150 innings for the 10th straight season of his career, and also doing a good job of controlling the ball in the strike zone, as Weaver only walked 2.58 batters per nine innings. It won’t be pretty, but Weaver very well could be the Padres staff “ace” in 2017.
Like Jarred Cosart, Tyrell Jenkins has never lived up to what was an initially a very promising outlook for the former Cardinals and Braves top prospect. After being traded to the Braves as part of the Jason Heyward deal, Braves fans expected big things from Jenkins. However, Jenkins 2016 debut was an unmitigated disaster, as the right-hander threw 52 innings and finished the year with a 5.88 ERA and 6.86 FIP, good for a negative one fWAR.
After such a large disappointment in 2016, Jenkins was traded to the Rangers this off-season, designated for assignment, claimed by the Reds, designated again, and finally claimed by the Padres. In his fourth organization in as many months, Jenkins is looking for a fresh start in 2017. Jenkins appears to be a long shot for the rotation, but he could very well end up in Triple-A for further development in the Padres organization.
Along with Tyrell Jenkins, the Padres acquired another failed prospect in right-hander, Zach Lee. Like Jenkins and Cosart, Lee also had a rather significant prospect pedigree before struggling mightily over the last few seasons. Despite a hugely successful Triple-A campaign with the Dodgers in 2015, Lee took a huge step back in 2016, accumulating an ERA over 4.00 before ending the season with the Seattle Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, with a seven plus ERA in the process.
Going into 2017, Lee has more to prove than just about anybody in Padres camp. At just 25 years old, there is still plenty of time to figure it out. The question remains whether the Padres will give Lee a real chance to figure it out this spring. The more likely outcome, as with a few other potential starters, appears to be Lee starting the year out in Triple-A and earning a promotion later on in the year. However, an impressive spring could earn Lee a spot outright this spring. In limited work so far, Lee has at least looked promising for the Friars.
Another year, another big arm selected by the Padres near the top of the Rule 5 draft. Diaz looks pretty similar to Perdomo in his pitch repertoire and in his potential. If Perdomo’s success is any indication, Diaz could be a good find for the Padres. That is if they can keep him on the 25-man roster all year. Given how many options the Padres have, Diaz would have to be monumentally impressive to earn a rotation spot outright this spring. The more likely outcome is the Padres will try to hide Diaz in the bullpen for as long as they can.
Despite returning most of their late-season rotation from last season, the Padres went out and added a whole new rotation of potential options. From failed prospects, to experienced veterans, to Rule 5 picks, the Padres definitely got a rather wide selection of players to potentially add to the rotation this off-season. In part three of the series tomorrow, we look at some pitchers who could see some big league time in the rotation during the 2017 season, although these players are not going to start the year in that role. Stay tuned!