The San Diego Padres bullpen used to be the strength of the team. The franchise has a long history of a solid relief corp. From Rollie Fingers to Craig Kimbrel, the Padres have really had some dominant closers.
The 2016 season will see the Padres with a completely rebuilt bullpen. Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit are gone. Fernando Rodney, Carlos Villanueva and Drew Pomeranz enter. Rodney will be the closer to start the season but the 38-year-old is far from a sure thing to be his old dominant self.
The Padres also have a group of returning relief pitchers that could contribute greatly on the season. Jon Edwards, Kevin Quackenbush and Nick Vincent will all have to battle to win a spot in the bullpen, but each has had a track record of success. Odrisamer Despaigne and Robbie Erlin also figure to be involved in the mix to some degree.
There are also three rule five pitchers that have a chance at making the team. Luis Perdomo, Josh Martin and Blake Smith. Perdomo has exclusively started in the minors, but will have a hard time cracking the Padres opening day rotation. He will instead hope to make the team as a long reliever. Josh Martin has worked exclusively out of the pen and with success. He has an outside chance at making the team. Smith is a former college teammate of Tyson Ross and will need a great spring to make the team. He is 28 and is not consider an elite prospect to this point.
Brandon Maurer and Brandon Morrow are both wild cards. Each will be given an opportunity to start but both could end up in the bullpen as well. It all really depends on who steps up and if the Padres make any more trades or acquire any more talent. Cory Mazzoni, Leonel Campos and Buddy Baumann are all expected to be given a shot at a bullpen spot as well. Other bullpen candidates currently on the Padres roster are Ryan Buchter, Frank Garces and Cesar Vargas. Buchter and Garces are lefties and the Padres sure could use more quality left handers out of the bullpen. They both need a great spring in order to make any immediate impact.
In all reality the bullpen is a work in progress, but in my opinion that will not be the Padres issue this season. The team has a nice mix of veterans and relievers as well as a proven closer at the back-end in Rodney. There still are some quality relievers out there as well and the Padres could easily be players in one or two of them. Stay tuned Padres fans, the team is just beginning to take shape for the 2016 season.
This could be a great pickup for the Padres, but he will not be inexpensive. He has a solid track record and quite frankly its amazing that he hasn’t found a job yet. Perhaps some teams have a lasting image of Clippard getting hit hard in the World Series this past fall. That was just one series and not a sign of the type of pitcher he is. The right handed change-up artist has 53 career saves including 19 last year as a member of the Oakland A’s and New York Mets. In 489 career games, he owns a 2.88 ERA and a 1.089 WHIP. The Padres would need to invest in at least $15 million and two years to land Clippard. The team seems unlikely to spend money on the bullpen at this point and will instead look for value from its young hurlers. He would be a great addition, but probably not realistic for the team at the moment.
The 30-year-old former closer of the Kansas City Royals is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2016 season. The Royals cut their ties with him in a cost saving move. He could be had at a very decent price, but he has an obvious injury concern. Holland owns 145 career saves including 32 last season before going down with the elbow injury. In the 2013 and 2014 season Holland was dominant saving 93 games while holding a 1.32 ERA and a 0.886 WHIP. The right handed power pitcher is represented by Scott Boras so he will get a great deal from someone. The Padres might have interest, but Holland would have to be dirt cheap. Not likely.
The former Padres relief pitcher is a free agent and could provide the team with a veteran right-handed presence in the back of the bullpen. Webb was acquired by the Padres from the A’s for Scott Hairston in 2009 and then dealt to the Marlins with Edward Mujica for Cameron Maybin in 2010. Webb has been fairly solid as a relief pitcher in his seven-year major league career. He owns a 3.35 ERA in 357 appearances. He went 1-0 last season for the Indians in 40 games and 50.2 innings pitched while recording a 3.20 ERA. He has a heavy sinker and could be a nice fit again at Petco Park. The Padres should really take a look at this right handed reliever. Webb will find a job somewhere. That is a fact.
If there is one thing the San Diego Padres need, it is more left-handed pitchers. Franklin Morales could be a nice pickup as he has experience as both a starter and reliever. As recent as tow years ago Morales started in the major leagues. He made 22 starts for the Rockies in 2014 recording a 5.37 ERA. He was once again put into a relievers role and responded for the Royals going 4-2 last season in 67 games while recording a 3.18 ERA. He was a vital member of the Royals bullpen and will easily find a job somewhere as a situational lefty or long reliever. The Padres could be interested, but it really depends on the price and if the team has room on the roster for another addition.