RHP Tim Lincecum
The artist formerly known as “The Freak” is definitely on the Padres’ radar, as reported by Fanrag’s Jon Heyman. The Friars were reportedly one of about 15-20 teams that attended Lincecum’s showcase, one where he was sitting 90-92 on his fastball, impressing many scouts along the way. Lincecum hasn’t pitched since 2016, when he put up very poor numbers with the Angels, but that shouldn’t stop the Padres’ front office from giving him a chance on a reasonable contract.
He won’t win any more Cy Young awards, but he can be a very useful pitcher for the Padres’ staff that boasts some interesting but inexperienced arms. With the team competing with the rest of the league for his services, they might have to offer him two years guaranteed, but even then he could prove to be a bargain if his hip issues are finally behind him.
RHP Jake Peavy
I know, I know. He hasn’t pitched in a couple of years. And yes, perhaps this is just a sentimental thing here, but Jake Peavy would look wonderful in a brown Padres’ throwback uniform pitching his heart out. The man wore his emotions on his sleeve and that was fun to watch. Seeing him one more time in Petco going for that all-time franchise record in wins would be a worthwhile story.
There are reports that he would like to return to MLB, but it remains to be seen if he has anything left in his right arm. The former Cy Young Award winner with the Padres would need to show that he is healthy, and might have to return as a reliever, but this idea is worth exploring. We do not want another Jered Weaver situation, though, as that would be a sad ending for a once formidable Friar.
RHP Tyler Clippard
Tyler Clippard’s 2017 saw him bounce around the AL as he played for the Yankees, White Sox, and Astros. He struggled a bit, but maintained a 10.7 K/9 across 67 appearances. Clippard is extremely durable, appearing in an average of 72 games per season since 2010. The 33-year-old right-hander is being punished for his poor 2017, but consistently puts up 1+ WAR seasons as a full-time reliever, and that holds a lot of value for a Padres bullpen corps whose only consistent performer has been lefty Brad Hand.
Clippard can be had for very cheap, and locking him down for two years shouldn’t be out of the question. Relievers hold more value than they have in a while, and locking up a good one like Clippard on a low AAV is crucial to the Padres’ quest to competence in 2019. Go get him now. He will have value again to someone come July.
RHP R.A. Dickey
This one may be a bit of a stretch as multiple publications have reported R.A. Dickey may retire any day now and he’s probably seeking a fully guaranteed MLB deal with a contender, but it couldn’t hurt the Padres to at least check in on him. After all, the former Cy Young award winner has thrown no less than 169.2 innings every season since 2010 and maintained a steady ERA. At the very least, Dickey is an innings eater that keeps his team in the game, and that is invaluable to a Padres team that employs more feast-or-famine pitchers than steady contributors. I mean, imagine Kaz Makita following Dickey in any given game. No batter wants to face that.
Those were seven current under-the-radar free agents A.J. Preller and company may target as MLB Opening Day nears.
This list could very well extend to RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Greg Holland, and 2B Neil Walker, as each would bring a lot to the Padres, but they either price themselves out of the team’s price range or don’t fit the roster as currently constructed. Other names to keep an eye on are RHP A.J. Griffin, LHP Brett Anderson, and UTIL Arismendy Alcantara. All will be looking for jobs wherever they can and could find themselves in Peoria before March’s end. Stay tuned.