There are plenty of rumors swirling that the San Diego Padres will soon be seriously entertaining offers for closer Brad Hand.
Without a doubt, the team will be fielding calls in a constant effort to get better.
The effort to improve starts with the minor league system, and if dealing Brad Hand can bring in more prospects, then the team will surely pull the trigger. A.J. Preller has already indicated that teams must pay the asking price though. If it is not met, he will not deal the useful left-handed pitcher. One way or another, when push comes to shove, the team should have no issues dealing Brad Hand this winter.
In dealing Hand, the Padres would require someone to step up into the closer’s role. Brandon Maurer was dealt last season before the trade deadline. He was, at one time, deemed the “closer of the future” by the organization. Maurer is a Royal now. The Padres need options.
Let’s review some potential players that could step up if Brad Hand is indeed dealt in the near future. We will first look within the franchise itself and see if there are internal options. Then, we will explore the open market and take a look at what quality closers are available.
He is a common mention when it comes to possible closers for the Padres in the future. The right-handed reliever with the funky jump-step motion has a great arm, but virtually no experience in the 9th inning role. He was 0-0 with a 6.57 ERA in 12 innings for the Padres last season. Capps was recovering from Tommy John surgery, so his overall numbers were not of great importance. Carter Capps will surely be given every opportunity to win a bullpen role in the spring. He is 27, and still young enough to emerge as a possible closer, but he needs to gain more experience with his modified delivery, and most importantly, he needs to prove he is healthy.
The right-handed reliever had an excellent year last year for the Friars, in which he went 4-5 with a 3.72 ERA and a 1.096 WHIP and recorded one save. He is 31 and has not been particularly effective throughout his career. Darren Balsley and Doug Bochtler have certainly gotten the most out of him. Yates as a closer seems like a real stretch at this point. He seems more suitable as a 7th or 8th inning guy as his stuff is not overly dominant in any way. Yates is solid, but probably not an option to toe the rubber for the Padres in the ninth on a consistent basis.
Of all the in-house options, Maton makes the most sense. He has a track record of closing (in the minors), and seems to have the attitude needed to excel at the job. He was 3-2 last season with a 4.19 ERA and a 1.279 WHIP in 43 innings and 46 games. His high-riding, four-seam fastball will get plenty of swings and misses, but he is also susceptible to giving up a home run (10 last season). At 25 when the 2018 season is in full swing, he still has time to make better pitches and blossom into a viable closer.
At 24, and with only Double-A experience, Wingenter is a true dark horse for this role in 2018. He would need an absolutely impressive spring to even break camp with the team, let alone earn the closer’s role. He does have great stuff and is worth noting though. Wingenter was 6-4 in 2017 for the Missions with a 2.82 ERA and a 1.163 WHIP in 124 innings pitched. The right-hander struck out 145 batters in that time with a high 90’s fastball and a very effective slider. He has the ability to make the team out of the spring, but you would have to think the club would want him to succeed in the PCL first. Trey Wingenter will get an opportunity soon. Keep an eye on him.
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