The Padres have been fairly aggressive in recent times on all fronts, from signing free brokers to buying and selling for stars and increasing their very own gamers. That has shot their finances as much as document heights, with Roster Resource presently estimating their payroll at $250MM. Up till a number of years in the past, they’d solely barely nudged previous the $100MM mark, leaping to $174MM in 2021 and $211MM final yr, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
Despite all that aggression, they are going into the season with uncertainty of their rotation, each within the short-term and long-term. They ought to have a powerful entrance three this yr Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish and Blake Snell. That leaves two query marks on the again, since Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea reached free company and signed elsewhere. Darvish and Snell are each slated to succeed in free company after this yr, opening up extra holes sooner or later. MacKenzie Gore‘s inclusion within the Juan Soto commerce additionally weakened the long run outlook. So, who have they got readily available to step up and take these jobs? Let’s check out the candidates.
Martinez, 32, spent 4 seasons in Japan and parlayed that right into a four-year take care of the Padres going into 2022, a deal that allowed him to choose out after every season. Last yr was a combined bag for Martinez, as he logged 106 1/3 innings with a 3.47 ERA. That’s strong manufacturing general however it got here within the type of a 4.30 ERA over 52 1/3 innings as a starter and a 2.67 mark in 54 innings as a reliever.
Martinez opted out and re-signed with the membership on one other deal, this time on a three-year pact. The particulars are unusually advanced as there are many incentives, in addition to a twin membership/participant possibility construction. Whether he can discover higher outcomes as a starter this time round stays to be seen. It’s actually a danger for the Friars, however a minimum of it appears he comes with the ground of serving to out of the bullpen.
Should Martinez really set up himself as a starter, the membership will be capable to maintain him round. Martinez will receives a commission a $10MM base wage this yr and the workforce will then must determine whether or not or to not set off two $16MM membership choices for 2024 and 2025, primarily a two-year, $32MM extension. That affords them a bit extra management over his future than his earlier opt-out laden deal. However, if Martinez doesn’t have a profitable marketing campaign and so they flip down that possibility, he’ll get to determine whether or not or to not set off two participant choices valued at $8MM every, primarily a two-year, $16MM extension. That offers the Friars upside and draw back potential within the pact. Those greenback figures can even reportedly change primarily based on incentives, though the precise particulars aren’t recognized.
Lugo, 33, is in a considerably related scenario to Martinez, as he might probably wind up within the rotation or within the bullpen. He made 23 begins in 2017-18 however solely seven since, largely working as a reliever. That transfer was a minimum of partially motivated by a “slight” tear that was found in his proper ulnar collateral ligament in 2017.
Regardless, Lugo has served as an efficient reliever since then, posting a 3.56 ERA over the previous two years, and there is some hope that his five-pitch combine may help him transition again right into a rotation. It’s one other dangerous transfer that the Padres have been prepared to take, giving Lugo two years and $15MM, with Lugo in a position to opt-out after the primary. He hasn’t topped 80 innings in a season since 2018 and it is onerous to know the way clean this change will probably be.
If it goes effectively, there will not be any long-term upside for the membership, since Lugo will make a $7.5MM wage however can choose out of the identical determine for 2024. If the experiment works, he is more likely to return to free company and discover a bigger assure. If it fails, the Padres will nonetheless be on the hook for one more season.
Morejón, 24 in February, has lengthy been one of the thrilling pitching prospects within the league. Baseball America positioned him on their high 100 checklist for 5 straight years starting in 2017. Various accidents slowed him down throughout his ascent to the majors and he is but to even pitch 70 official innings in any season of his profession, majors or minors or mixed.
Tommy John surgical procedure in April of 2021 worn out most of that season. He returned to well being in 2022 however pitched in reduction. The membership reportedly nonetheless views him as a starter, however he’ll doubtless have workload issues this yr. Between the majors and the minors final yr, he logged 47 1/3 frames. He ought to be capable to push that up now that he is additional faraway from the surgical procedure, however attending to a full starter’s workload could be quite a bit to ask. He has simply over three years of MLB service time now, giving him the flexibility to offer some long-term assist to the membership’s rotation if he stays wholesome and makes good on his prospect pedigree in 2023.
Groome, 24, was a twelfth general choose of the Red Sox in 2016. He was as soon as a highly-touted prospect however has hit numerous velocity bumps. Tommy John surgical procedure worn out his 2018 and most of his 2019, which was adopted by the minors being canceled by the pandemic in 2020. He has since returned to well being and posted first rate outcomes however with a number of the prospect shine having worn off.
In 2022, which included a commerce to the Padres within the Eric Hosmer deal, he pitched 144 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. The 3.44 ERA is good, however his 22.8% strikeout price is true round common and his 10.4% stroll price was on the regarding aspect. He’s but to succeed in the majors and arguably has the best likelihood to offer future worth to the membership together with his six seasons of management and one remaining possibility yr.
Brent Honeywell Jr.
Honeywell, 28 in March, can also be a former high prospect. A Rays draftee, he was on BA’s high 100 in 5 straight seasons from 2016-20. Similar to Morejón and Groome, accidents have prevented him from reaching his potential thus far. Tommy John surgical procedure in 2018 put him on the shelf and he has handled numerous setbacks since then. He was wholesome sufficient to throw 86 innings in 2021 between Tampa Bay and Triple-A Durham, with the membership then dealing him to Oakland. However, extra damage setbacks resulted in simply 20 1/3 minor league innings for the A’s final yr.
Honeywell appears to be wholesome once more in the mean time, as he is tossed 28 innings within the Dominican Winter League. His 0.96 ERA in that point appears to have been sufficient to impress the Padres, as they signed him to their 40-man roster final week. It would make for a terrific bounceback story if he have been to lastly put all of it collectively, however it’s onerous to financial institution on him after pitching onerous prior to now 5 years. He nonetheless has lower than a yr of service time, giving the Padres loads of upside if all of it clicks, however Honeywell can also be out of choices and should produce within the large leagues instantly to hold onto his roster spot.
Reiss Knehr/Pedro Avila/Ryan Weathers
These three are all on the 40-man roster and warrant a point out, though they’re unlikely to be known as upon besides in an emergency. All three of them have gotten some large league time in latest seasons, getting pretty temporary showings in swing roles. Weathers in all probability has probably the most upside of the trio since he is simply 23, whereas the others are going into their respective age-26 seasons. Weathers was thought of a high 100 prospect going into 2021, however he has a 5.49 ERA within the large leagues thus far and posted a 6.73 ERA in 123 Triple-A innings final yr, getting bumped to the bullpen because the season wore on.
Font, 33 in May, is an actual wild card. He was a journeyman within the majors for a few years however went to Korea to play within the KBO in 2021. Over the final two years, he is been pitching at an ace stage for the SSG Landers. He made 25 begins in 2021 with a 3.46 ERA after which 28 begins final yr with a 2.69 mark. In that latter season, he obtained strikeouts at a 23.3% price, strolling solely 4.7% of batters confronted and he obtained floor balls on 51.6% of balls in play.
Success abroad would not all the time translate to success within the majors, however Font would not be the primary pitcher to underwhelm in North America however then return after a breakout elsewhere, with Miles Mikolas and Merrill Kelly a number of the latest examples. Font is not presently on the 40-man and should earn his manner again into the combination however he will probably be an fascinating one to look at.
Julio Teheran/Aaron Brooks
These two veterans have additionally been introduced aboard on minor league offers. Teheran spent 2022 in Indy ball and the Mexican League, posting some first rate numbers in 13 begins between numerous golf equipment. He then went to the Dominican for winter ball and posted a 3.49 ERA by means of eight begins there. He had a strong run with the Braves earlier in his profession however obtained lit up in 2020 with a ten.05 ERA after which was injured for many of 2021.
Brooks was nice within the KBO in 2020 and 2021, posting a 2.79 ERA over 36 begins in that point. However, his tried return to the majors didn’t go effectively. He made 5 reduction appearances for the Cardinals with a 7.71 ERA and obtained outrighted to the minors. In 15 Triple-A appearances, 13 begins, his ERA was 5.56.
All advised, the Padres have plenty of choices right here, however all of them have query marks. There’s a handful of light prospects who nonetheless have to put damage issues within the rearview mirror and one other handful of veteran swingmen who would possibly nonetheless find yourself higher suited to the bullpen than the rotation. Musgrove-Darvish-Snell offers them a powerful entrance three, which means the Padres solely really want a few these guys to step up. On the opposite hand, they’re one damage away from somebody on this group instantly being within the #3 slot.
The Padres might all the time complement their employees between now and Opening Day, however latest reporting has recommended they do not have far more payroll house to work with. If they need to go the commerce route, there are actually choices, such because the Marlins having loads of arms obtainable and the Brewers maybe in an identical boat.