Padres Need Starting Pitchers and Will Likely Trade For Them

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Credit: AP Photo

Even with the exciting news of Manny Machado coming to San Diego, the Padres are a far cry from having a quality starting rotation. They will likely need to acquire a starter or two by trade to be relevant in the division in 2019. 

The Padres saw a few young arms emerge last season.

Joey Lucchesi made 26 starts recording a 4.08 ERA and 1.1 WAR. Eric Lauer made 23 starts producing a 4.34 ERA and a 0.8 WAR. Each should build on getting their feet wet in the major leagues and improve those numbers this season.

It is projected that the Padres rotation will be the two before mentioned pitchers and Robbie Erlin, Bryan Mitchell and Luis Perdomo. Of course, that can change over the spring with the development of the likes of Jacob Nix, Logan Allen, Chris Paddack, and several others. Matt Strahm will also be a factor before it is all said and done.

The Padres are a far cry from having one of the best rotations in baseball like the Indians, Red Sox and Mets.

It’s a bummer Manny Machado can’t pitch because, according to FanGraphs’ Steamer projections, the Padres rank 26th in baseball for projected WAR of the starting rotation. They are also dead last in the National League.

Team Total Proj. WAR
1 Indians  18.3
2 Red Sox  16.7
3 Yankees  15.2
4 Mets  14.8
5 Nationals  14.6
6 Astros  14
7 Dodgers  13.4
8 Rockies  12.6
9 Cubs  12.2
10 Phillies  11.4
11 D-backs  11.3
12 Pirates  11.3
13 Cardinals  10.2
14 Rays  10.2
15 Reds  10.2
16 Twins  9.5
17 Braves  7.8
18 Angels  7.2
19 Giants  6.4
20 Rangers  6.2
21 Mariners  6
22 Marlins  5.9
23 Brewers  5.9
24 Blue Jays  5.8
25 Royals  5.7
26 Padres  5.6
27 Tigers  5.5
28 White Sox  4
29 Athletics  3.6
30 Orioles  3.2

According to reports, the Padres are not content with the remaining free agent options as far as starting pitchers, which includes Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez and Clay Buchholz. The feeling is that none of these are true front-line starters that could lead this young, budding rotation into the future.

This is why the Padres will likely look to trade for a veteran starting pitcher to lead the rotation. Dallas Keuchel is on the wrong side of 30 years old and led the entire league with 211 hits allowed last season. Rumor has it he is also wanting something around $20 million per year, which, after ponying up for Machado, does not sound appetizing to the Padres.

Gio Gonzalez is clearly on the downswing and will likely turn out just as a good or worse than most of the in-house candidates the Padres have for the rotation when counting the prospects. He had a stellar 2017 with a 6.4 WAR but it has been sandwiched by a 0.9 WAR 2016 season and 1.5 in 2018. Plus he will be 34 years old by season’s end.

Clay Buchholz can’t stay healthy as he hasn’t started more than 21 games since 2014. He will be 35 years old in August.

Credit: AP Photo

These are not pitchers than instill confidence that they can lead a young rotation through a playoff run.

The trade options are too numerous to mention all of them. The Indians would make sense as they need outfielders, something the Padres have plenty of. However, the Indians have been hot and cold when talking trading their top pitchers like Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Mike Clevinger could be an option. He does not have the track record of his two teammates mentioned but his 2018 was as good as anyone in baseball. Clevinger posted a 4.3 WAR with a stingy 3.52 FIP (anything below 4.20 being above average).

Perhaps if the Twins are not optimistic about their chances in the AL Central, they would be willing to part with Jake Odorizzi, who has had an ERA+ above 102 in three of the past four seasons.

 Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers is another possible option at not quite 26 years old. He pitched well enough in 2016 to win AL Rookie of the Year, although he has come back down to earth some the last two seasons. Still, over three years, a 3.81 ERA with a 115 ERA+ would be most welcome in this rotation.

One thing that all these pitchers mentioned have in common is that they are right-handed. The Padres are very low on quality righties, with their best right-handed starters on the big league roster would be Luis Perdomo and Bryan Mitchell.

It’s almost a given that A.J. Preller has something up his sleeve. He has shown his tendencies and they are not to just make one big splash move, like Machado, then disappear into the shadows. The NL West is trending the right direction for the Padres and 2019 may be an opportunity to make some noise if they can get more pitching.

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Nick Lee
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.

10 thoughts on “Padres Need Starting Pitchers and Will Likely Trade For Them

  1. Bring back Jake Peavy. Hes still got bullets in his arm, is a proven winner, Free agent, and Deserves a home coming.

  2. A trade for a good young pitcher will hurt. We aren’t going to get one with a package built around any of our OFs. It will most likely require parting with top pitching prospects.
    A move that could bolster the rotation and help in other ways would be to move Myers.
    Even if the return was a middling innings eater like Leake, it would be worth it for several reasons:
    1) save some money, always a good thing.
    2) improve the rotation.
    3) Myers can be easily replaced in the OF.
    4) opens up playing time for the other OFs.

    1. TT – that was my idea since the last game of last season !
      Keep our young pitchers and let them pitch. Padres biggest problem historically has been lack of run support for ALL pitchers. That should change dramatically with the addition of Johnny Hustle. Scoring runs will make our young pitchers winners. And Nick, we’re not going to go from last to first this year, so there is no reason to give away the store. Let’s start building a culture of winning !

  3. It makes sense to go after one, maybe middle if not top of the rotation type starter, with an excess outfielder or two and maybe a prospect or two but I wouldn’t want to see the young pitchers blocked by multiple rotation additions.

  4. I am not sure where you pulled your WAR projections from but this is the site I looked at –
    https://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=Team
    It has the Padres having a Starting Staff of 9.9 combined WAR with a Bullpen of 3.9 for total 13.8 for pitching overall. The Brewers who won 96 games last season and won the NL Central with a staff of #3, #4, and #5 starts and ONLY one pitcher above 10 wins, Ex-Padre, Jhoulys Chacin has ONLY a 7.4 projections with basically the same staff. I disagree that either of Gonzalez and/or Buchholz could not help out. Factor in Petco Park and one of the best pitching coaches around in Balsley and I would have to say that either of them has a shot to do better than ALL the pitchers used last season for the Padres or the current group in ST.
    With that said, I expect one of our Kid’s to POP this year, we have lots of options. I look at the Rays CY winning starter, Blake Snell last year, just put up a 21-5 season with a 1.89 ERA, 221 K’s, 64 BB, 180.2 IP. Before that in parts of two seasons he combined for a 11-15 record, 218 IP, around a 3.80 ERA. Lamet will be back Mid-Season, so half of year from Buchholz might not be bad, let a Kid like Paddack get some more seasoning in AAA till mid-season. If we are playing .500 ball by the end of May then make a trade if needed. I am not saying we don’t look at ALL trade options but most tams have HOPE at the time of year by mid-season some of that hope has evaporated. We could use Starters or tandem pitchers for two slots in the rotation and see who has success also.

  5. Interestingly, while they are projected to be 26th (a guess, not a fact) there is only 7.8 WAR difference between the presumed superior team of the Dodgers and the Padres. Not that they will win the division, but this perhaps bodes well for at least being competitive for a wild-card. And, with a few breaks, and an in-season move here or there, the could be even more competitive. Also, I think there will be a significant progression between the first a second year of Lucchesi and Lauer–and with Lamet when he finally gets back. I also think Logan Allen will be of great help, as possible Paddock, when they, too, finally arrive. On top of that, this is replacing some horrible pitching from last year.

    1. A difference of 7.8 WAR just in the rotation is huge. The is Kershaw at his peak, or two very, very good pitchers. This difference cannot be bridged by signing any of the available free agents, or pulling off a big trade. Those type of players are just not available.

  6. “Padres Need Starting Pitchers and Will Likely Trade For Them” I hope not, unless there is some obvious bargain (and/or it involves surplus outfielders).
    Let the younger guys play, and then see what happens. The “supply” of available pitchers is very unimpressive. They are, at best, if all goes right, slightly better than what the Padres have, so why pay for slightly-better-at-best? Yes, there are a couple of really good pitchers, but the cost for them would not be worth it. The price set for Kluber, et al is way too high. Lastly, acquiring them (at a significant cost) is yet another huge gamble in that it is far less likely the Padres can truly make the playoffs this year. “Let the kids play!!!!”

  7. Nice work Nick. I feel like the Padres are destined to find a trade partner as well for pitching, but when they pull the trigger is up for debate.

    I feel like there are a few scenarios that could play out:

    The Padres could see what they have in spring and make a mid to late March trade with say the Blue Jays to grab Marcus Stroman who is on his way out of Toronto.

    The other scenario is the Padres settle on utilizing their young staff to assess what they have in expected starters Luchessi, Laurer and the remaining cast you mentioned but at the deadline regardless of where they are in the standings they are buyers to get the ace they covet to support the staff long term knowing the Lamet and Richards will be back to full strength next year as well.

    The Padres are likely to still have plenty of trade chips available at the break between their minor league youth, a plethora of outfielders, and a guy like Kirby Yates who while successful as a closer is expendable like Brad Hand was and would fetch valuable future pieces and we could then slot on a guy like Wingenter as closer.

    It’s going to be nice to see how this plays out and it’s great to be having these debates as Padres fans today.

  8. I’ve not been able to quite understand all the negativity so many true Padre fans I pretty much ignore the trolls that exist) have expressed on this and other sites. We have among the major Padre co-owners a local man who expresses his own frustrations when the moves they made don’t work out. We have owners who want to make their mark as their grandparents did. Lastly, they proved in the past a high desire to have a winning team by making big trades and spending (compared to Padres past money spent) the big bucks in 2015. That it didn’t work then and set the team back a few years does not negate the attempt. So they learned, saw what needed to be done and outspent all but one team (as I recall) in spending for international players. So I wasn’t as surprised as most seem to be with the Machado move. Honestly I was somewhat surprised they weren’t outspent in the attempt. I do have one question fir you Mr. Nick and the any other staff writer or the more knowledgeable fans regarding our minor league players (especially pitchers) traded .

    It seems the Padres have justly been knocked for their inability to actualize at the Major League level the potential of their minor league players. Often the players haven’t even played to the believed floor of their suspected abilities at the Major level, let alone their ceiling. So in your opinion are the current stock of (specially pitchers) recent call ups showing that has changed. I.E. in the minor leagues their is a positive change of direction and we will see players actually maybe even hitting the ceiling in Major leagues. It is oblivious that players are being pushed to the next (minor as well as minor) quicker. If this is true, should the Padres trade these potential stars ( really happy Preller drew the line at our top 5 or 6) away just for an older star to “lead the way? Appreciate others input.
    Padre fan since the early 70’s.

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