An early look at potential free agent acquisitions for the Padres this winter

Credit: Steve Mitchell USA Today Sports

Credit: USA Today Sports

A look at who the San Diego Padres should seek out during the 2019-20 free agency period.

When building a championship contender, addressing the pitching staff is one of the primary targets for each general manager. Teams like the Dodgers, Astros, Nationals, and the majority of playoff contenders all boast some of the strongest overall staffs in the game.

Chinese philosopher Mencius stated, “The best things in life come in threes.” What a great baseball manager he was. The new standard for a playoff-ready team in the MLB is evident: put together a Big Three to head the pitching rotation and let the offense breathe easy at least three times every rotation cycle.

The 2020 San Diego Padres project to have only one pitcher of Big Three caliber, team ace Chris Paddack.

However, A.J. Preller must give Paddack his Buehler and his Corbin to effectively contend for a playoff spot next season. As the season approaches its final legs and San Diego misses the playoffs yet again, eyes turn to the future. Who will fill those other two spots?

Gerrit Cole

Heading up the pack is an aforementioned member of the Houston Astros big three. At 4.1 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), Gerrit Cole is one of the game’s most dominant pitchers. His selection on this list is less of a hot take, more of a foregone conclusion. Before even looking at his quantifiable excellence, observation of his winning mentality shows off exactly what Cole is all about. Saying, quote, “At least 50-percent of this league doesn’t give a [expletive] about winning,”. His desire to win is a trait that perfectly fits the Padres’ ambitions. If A.J Preller can land Gerrit Cole coming off of what is currently a 14-5, 2.87 ERA (Earned Run Average), and league-leading 226 strikeout season, the Padres will be well on their way to success in 2020.

Zack Wheeler

About the only Mets starter the Padres weren’t involved in trade talks with this summer, Zack Wheeler is a big risk, big reward type of player. The risk? His vulnerability to injury. He hasn’t had an injury-free season since 2014, with a multitude of elbow problems in years leading up to that season as well. The reward? A pitcher averaging 6.1 IP (Innings Pitched) per start in 2019.

It is no secret that the Padres need starting pitching that can go deep into a game; their current top three starters average roughly 5.1 IP per start. Wheeler adds depth in two ways: depth to the rotation and depth into a game. A concern about Wheeler in the pitching department will be his 2019 ERA of 4.20, though the Padres’ front office, should they sign him, will be banking on him to come with his July-and-onward ERA of 3.13 as opposed to his March-June ERA: 4.51. The type of hit-or-miss player Preller loves going after; Wheeler will prove to be a big score the Padres pursue come November’s free agency filings.

Credit: AP Photo

Alex Wood

Coming off back injuries that delayed his 2019 season debut, Alex Wood is a question mark to re-sign with the Cincinnati Reds. They are yet to offer a contract extension to the 29-year-old southpaw, a variable that will play a factor when Wood makes his decision on where to call home in 2020. With Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi lacking Big 3-caliber talent, the sinker and slider dominant southpaw perfectly compliment Paddack’s fastball dominant approach on the mound and a team facing these pitchers on back-to-back days is sure to find trouble adjusting. Similar to Wheeler, Wood’s pre-injury numbers are downright deadly. With a 2016-2018 combined winning percentage of .650 and combined ERA of 3.29, a clock-turned-back Alex Wood is sure to inject confidence into the Padres’ clubhouse, and pogo stick their win total in the coming seasons.

Jake Odorizzi

Rounding out the list of San Diego’s Most Wanted is Minnesota stud, repeat, stud Jake Odorizzi. A simple glance at his numbers in 2019 can drop jaws and raise eyebrows in befuddlement at the lack of conversation surrounding Odorizzi nationwide. With a 3.44 ERA and a Win-Loss of 13-5, he should hands-down be a contender for this year’s Cy Young award and be near, or at the top of every free agent board come November. Concerns may surround his 5.1 IP per start. However, his WAR of 2.8 and RAR (Runs Above Replacement) of 29 are key indicators of the talent this man brings to the table. Any GM in the league would be absurd not to give this righty at least a second glance when the question of who to contractually obligate themselves to arises. Jake Odorizzi will be a top-five pitcher in the MLB next season, and A.J. Preller needs to make sure he’s at least given Odorizzi a thought before moving on to other free agents.

As fans anxiously await the 2019 free agency period, the Padres need to recognize the small fortune of talent this offseason is blessed with and take complete advantage of it should they hope to be a serious contender in the 2020 MLB season.

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7 thoughts on “An early look at potential free agent acquisitions for the Padres this winter

  1. I like the idea of getting an innings-eater like Tanner Roark. He probably wouldn’t be too expensive, and he has quietly put up some very decent numbers with the Reds and Athletics this year. If he doesn’t make the starting rotation, he would be a very good bullpen piece.

    1. Yep. I would completely be willing to stay with our low-cost young pitchers and the rotation next year if seeming ready to win. But, to improve your lineup, you’d need to sacrifice your farm to some degree. I tend to think you’re susceptible to giving away a Tatis now and then for a backside of career name in that scenario. I know most prospects don’t pan out, but some vets don’t either. When Patino, Gore, Weathers, etc. “make it”, will the young arms now in the rotation keep their spots? If so, I would act accordingly. If not, I would act accordingly. I posted a ridiculously long plan that is ONE way to win now. Maybe the SP prospects I mentioned will flame out, and trading a Lauer or Lucchesi would end up foolish. You just never know. But, the current admin’s talent acquisition has been fantastic, so I trust the BO group knows the values and will take the best path. I pray.

  2. Off-season to do list:

    It’s time to win. (Sorry about the length of this. If any Padres brass want to hire me, I am available…)

    1. Hire Joe Maddon. No offense to Andy. It’s about a proven winner and a new challenge.
    2. Never trade list:
    SS Tatis Jr
    3B Machado
    P Paddack
    Needs:
    Vet pitcher (s)
    L/R lineup balance
    Health
    Acquisition plan:
    FA or Major leaguers in trade (save the farm)
    Shorter term vet contracts or controllable

    2020 FA’s of interest:
    SP:
    Gerrit Cole (but only if he’s also seeking us…one exception to rules above)
    Cole Hamels
    Strasburg (if he opts out and seeks us)
    Rick Porcello
    Tanner Roark
    Odorizzi
    Wood
    Miley
    Wacha
    Archer
    McHugh
    Teheran
    Shelby Miller
    2B:
    Gregorious
    Gennett
    Kipnis
    Panik
    LHR:
    Diekman
    CF:
    Starling Marte

    Trade targets:
    OF Conforto
    OF/1B Gallo
    2B Adalberto Mondesi Jr
    C Salvador Perez
    CL Diaz

    Other thoughts:
    Some of these FA names are dependent on club options.
    Not overly concerned with moving contracts. We’re young and cheap overall as long as the contracts are not too lengthy.
    As much as I love him, I trade Yates as long as I can replace him.

    3. Love Urias. But right handed. If I can get Mondesi or Gregorious at 2nd, I am willing to trade him for equal value in some deal. You g middle infielders in minors will have time to grow.

    4. Check on Cole and Strasburg as much as rules allow. If legit interest in SD, pursue with signing deadline internally. IF can, do. If no, move on If the usual suspects win out on those two as expected, sign Hamels, Porcello, and whichever remaining FA you feel you can “Astro” to a greater value. Too similar of value on FA to give up 4-5 prospects for a Thor or Kluber unless we can’t protect all prospects of value from Rule 5.

    5. Trade for Conforto and Diaz first option. Second option, Gallo and LeClerc.

    6. Sign Diekman or a high ceiling left handed power arm for bullpen.

    7. Huge catching depth in organization. IF Perez is a good bet to be healthy and motivated to perform, he’s a great complement for Mejia in many ways for 2-3 years. Hedges may have good value in deals for targets. Perez is a great get if still capable of Gold Glove/Silver slugger seasons regardless of existing contract.

    8. Check on Marte. Trade if they keep him? I like both Margot and Cordero. It’s a Padres brass call on this obviously. I would only pursue if FA.

    9. Many good arms to not trade but see who rises to the top. I would bet on rebounds and better health and see what happens in the rotation and pen, and be active at the deadline as needs arise. There may be none.

    Potential opening day 25 man:
    SS Tatis Jr
    2B (Gregorious or Mondesi, Jr.)
    3B Machado
    LF (Conforto or Gallo)
    RF Renfroe/Myers
    1B Hosmer/Myers
    C (Perez)/ Mejia
    CF Margot/Cordero/(Marte)
    Bench:. Garcia, Myers, Mejia, Cordero, (open to earner) A few may need to be traded: Myers, Margot, bullpen arms like Stammen, Loup, Warren, Stock, Nix, Kennedy, M. Diaz (?) in addition to Hedges, Urias, Lucchesi, Lauer, Margavicius, Yates, Kinsler, and Jankowski. Ty France is a candidate as well.

    (if not Cole/Strasburg as expected)
    1) Richards
    2) Hamels
    3) Paddack
    4) Porcello
    5) Lamet/Lucchesi/Lauer/Quantril/(3rd FA signing) winner…others not traded provide depth. I would predict Quantril. Lamet to the pen. Lucchesi and Lauer as trade bait. With Patino and Gore on fast track mode and LRs who can start, this is a good start. Fill needs as the season demands. If 2 of the 4 of Richards/Hamels/Porcello/3rd FA signing hit, it will be a special season. And future.

    CL (Diaz or LeClerc)
    8 (Diekman) or similar
    7 Lamet
    Mid Castillo
    Mid Munoz
    Mid Strahm
    Mid Wingenter
    Mid Reyes
    Mid Edwards, Jr.
    LR Morejon
    LR Baez

    Very young. Very explosive. Add needs/experience as the season demands.

    I don’t know what the dollars would be for FA signings. If the pitchers are roughly $10 Mill per and Gregorious is similar, that’s $40 mill and Perez is another average of $12 mill to add onto the $99 mill existing. I don’t think roughly 150$ mill is too much to spend for a title quest when it’s largely shorter term, but if moving Myers is essential, do it. I would wait. Injuries, etc. and the intent to let him rebuild value as I believe he will

    Win. It.

    1. Joe Maddon has single handed-ly ruined a good young cubs team. Don’t let him anywhere near the padres. Ask any Cubs fan they can’t wait to get rid of him after this season.

  3. Player A:
    W: 8 L: 5 .615% 2.62 ERA 23 Starts 137.1 inn ERA+ 146 FIP: 3.04 WHIP: .961
    6.2 H/9 .8 HR/9 2.4 BB/9 7.9 SO/9 4.08 SO/W

    Player B:
    W: 7 L: 5 .583% 3.26 ERA 20 Starts 110.1 inn ERA+ 131 FIP: 4.10 WHIP: .934
    6.4 H/9 1.5 HR/9 2.0 BB/9 9.4 SO/9 4.60 SO/W

    Player A is Walker Buehler’s first full season. Player B is where Chris Paddack is this season. While the FIP is dramatically different; its closer than you would think. As we sit now Chris’s bWAR is higher than Walker.

    Player A:
    W: 9 L: 5 .643% 3.41 ERA ERA+ 136 FIP: 3.34 WHIP: 1.151 7.6 H/9 1.0 HR/9 2.7 BB/9 10.5 SO/9 3.82 SO/W
    Player B:
    W: 6 L: 3 .667% 3.23 ERA ERA+ 133 FIP: 4.03 WHIP: 1.115 7.8 H/9 1.1 HR/9 2.3 BB/9
    7.3 SO/9 3.32 SO/W

    Player A is Patrick Corbin 2019. Player B is Cal Quantrill 2019.

    Player A:
    ERA+ 133 FIP: 3.92 WHIP: 1.22 7.7 H/9 1.1 HR/9 3.3 BB/9 9.4 SO/9 2.86 SO/W

    Player B:
    ERA+ 112 FIP: 3.82 WHIP: 1.27 7.2 H/9 1.3 HR/9 4.1 BB/9 12.6 SO/9 3.06 SO/W

    Player A is Jake Odorizzi 2019 and Player B is Dinelson Lamet 2019. You can certainly argue small sample size on this but Dinelsons 2017 numbers trend the same and was only his rookie campaign.

    Lets be realistic. Brain Cashman or Jeff Luhnow will get Garrett Cole so no point to discuss that. The days of taking on an often injured reclamation project hopefully ends with Garrett Richards so no point going into these either. They never work and we still have the 2020 gamble with Mr Richards to go through. This doesn’t even factor in Baez, Morejon, Gore, Patino, Nix, and Avila. I suggest the focus needs to be a TOR arm if they can find a fit that wont completely explode the next 3 to 5 years.

    If this can’t be done look for a veteran influence who can anchor the young arms and focus on fixing the offense and bullpen.

    1. Nice work, and interesting comparisons. And yeah, sample size.

      Teams will be paying for Cole’s peak (perhaps), but declining years (most likely) [See Arrieta; Darvish; etc as what-not-to-do]. He will be great for a few years, and might be worth it for that time frame, but he will become like many others (including several Padres.) Before you know it, Cole will join the ranks of players to whom the Padres pay millions of dollars for not playing for them.

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