It feels like the last time that Tyson Ross took the mound in a San Diego Padres uniform was ages ago.
It was April 4, 2016. Ross was selected by the team to be the opening day starter for the first time in his career. He went up against Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Padres fans knew that it would be an uphill battle against the three-time Cy Young Award winner, but with Ross at the helm, at least there was a prayer. Things did not go well.
Ross was only able to make it through 5 ⅓ innings. He gave up eight runs, seven earned, off of nine hits, a walk and five strikeouts. It was the most runs that Ross had given up since May 4, 2012. The Padres lost the game 15-0; the biggest opening-day loss in Major League history. Unfortunately, the Padres sustained an even greater loss that day. One that couldn’t be rectified by a simple bounce-back win. The Padres lost their presumed ace. Tyson Ross never threw another pitch as a Padre.
Ross went through the entirety of the 2016 season on the disabled list, which he was placed on almost immediately after his start on opening day. The word was that he had sustained a shoulder injury during the game, but the assumption was that he would most likely be back on the mound before season’s end. It never happened. Weeks turned into months and finally, right before the end of the season, it was announced that Ross had sustained thoracic outlet syndrome and would require surgery. He received that surgery in October 2016.
Ross was in line to earn around $9 million with the Padres in 2017 through arbitration, but the team decided that the risks outweighed the benefits and non-tendered the 29 year-old right-hander. He eventually signed a one-year/$6-million deal with the Texas Rangers during the offseason.
With the Rangers, Ross went 3-3 with a 7.71 ERA in 12 games (10 starts). Towards the end of the season he was sent to the bullpen before ultimately being released by the Rangers on September 12. Clearly Ross’ $6 million contract was unjustified. He was not picked up by another team in 2017.
Now the question is, should the Padres be interested in Ross’ services for the 2018 season?
If you ask this fan; it feels like Ross has some unfinished business with the Padres. It made total sense for the team to pass on him coming out of 2016 but the circumstances are different now. There are a few reasons that I believe the team should consider bringing him back.
First of all, he should come pretty cheap. We’re talking like next to nothing. The Padres may be able to get him on a $1 million deal or less, give or take. That is not a bad price to pay for a pitcher that may still have some solid upside and has a positive track record in San Diego.
Who knows if he will ever recover from his shoulder injury? The thing is, he is now a complete year removed from his surgery. Enough time may have past by now for Ross to be able to truly bounce back. The inside of a year doesn’t seem like enough time to fully recover. Maybe that’s why the Rangers never got Ross’ best.
Do you know who else recovered from thoracic outlet syndrome? Clayton Richard. What seemed to be part of the solution for him was that he lowered his arm slot. Not only did doing this improve Richard’s game, but it decreased the likeliness of further injury to his shoulder. Ross already needs to do something about his mechanically unsound delivery. This was something that was always a concern of Padres fans regarding Ross. If he makes the proper adjustments he could reinvent his game, as well as, finding a way to better preserve his arm moving forward.
Who would be better to help Ross adjust his mechanics than the Padres’ very own Darren Balsley? Ross and Balsley have obviously worked very well together in the past. Under Balsley’s tutelage from 2013-2016, Ross had an ERA of 3.16 with 531 strikeouts in 522 innings pitched. He went from obscurity with the Oakland A’s to being considered one of MLB’s top trade chips with the Padres before his injury. If anyone can help this man right the ship, it’s Balsley.
If Ross can’t make it in the rotation, maybe Balsley can work some magic on him and turn him into a valuable bullpen piece? The Rangers attempted to get Ross to make the transition but they were unsuccessful. Maybe their hearts weren’t in it. Maybe they had already decided that they were going to cut him soon, so they didn’t invest much into him at the end. Can we dream on the possibility of Balsley turning Ross into a premier reliever a la Brad Hand?
Outside of Ross’ mechanics are the intangibles. He’s a known clubhouse guy. He is well liked by his teammates and he himself likes San Diego. It was reported that he wanted to stay here. Imagine having two solid veteran Padres in Ross and Richard to provide leadership on this young team? There is some real value there. I also believe that San Diego would embrace a return of Ross with open arms during what is looking like it’s going to be another slow season. Fans liked Ross and as I alluded to earlier, I think we feel like we never got closure with him. I mean, he was supposed to be our main man, and then poof, done. It was pretty abrupt. I for one, want to see him pitch again as a Padre, for better or for worse.
The Padres should definitely consider bringing back Ross. Especially if he can be had on the cheap. Heck, at this point he may even agree to a minor league deal. There is still some real upside potential there if Ross can fully recover from his shoulder injury. It is not out of the realm of possibility. Balsley could have a significant hand in reviving Ross’ career. He’s done it with others. This would be a smart move for the Padres both from a baseball perspective and from marketing perspective. Let’s get it done.