It seems that the Padres are at a bit of a crossroads at this point in the offseason. The franchise is still in need of some help in the Starting Pitching department, and it seems that most of the most attractive Free Agent options are now off of the market. Not big spenders by any means, all signs point to the Friars having to satisfy their need for Starting Pitchers through some sort of trade according to Padres.com Beat Writer Corey Brock via Twitter. If San Diego does decide to go the trade route for a Starting Pitcher recently linked to them like a Rick Porcello, there is a good chance that they will have to part with one or both of their Bullpen’s best veteran players: Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher.
Therein lies a huge offseason question: Would it benefit the Padres to pull the trigger on a deal to send Gregerson and/or Thatcher to acquire more Starting Pitching help like a Porcello? Although the decision might be difficult, I actually believe that San Diego would be best served to see what/who they can acquire in a deal for one or both of their most effective and veteran Bullpen arms.
Why a “Gregerson/Thatcher Trade for a Starter” Could Work for the Padres
As I alluded to in a past post, the Padres might actually be able to afford the losses of Gregerson and Thatcher because the franchise does have a number of young and talented Relief Pitchers within their organization. Last season, Brad Boxberger, Tom Layne, Miles Mikolas, Nick Vincent, and Brad Brach each received an extensive amount of Big League expereince between them, and should be primed to compete for even more Innings at the professional level in 2013. In addition to those players, San Diego will likely receive some contributions in Long Relief and out of the Bullpen from Anthony Bass and/or Tyson Ross if neither one is able to crack the Starting Rotation by the beginning of the regular season.
But not only does San Diego have a nice core of young Bullpen depth available on their roster right now, they also have some solid Relief Pitchers waiting in the wings at the Minor League level as well. Both Kevin Quackenbush and Matt Stites capped off their efficient 2012 regular seasons’ with stellar performances during their stints in the Arizona Fall League two months ago also.
While the Padres have not dealt Gregerson or Thatcher this offseason, it could very well be an option they are mulling over as we speak. Contending teams are always in the market for Bullpen depth, and veteran “LOOGY’s” (Left-Handed One Out Guy) like Thatcher and guys with Sliders like Gregerson could be just the players San Diego tries to lure these contenders to trade for this offseason. A deal for Porcello might benefit both San Diego and Detroit as the Tigers are in need of Bullpen help, and the Padres could definitely use the services of a young and effective Starting Pitcher.
If the Padres had little to zero Bullpen depth, or no long-term options in the Minors, I would say that the Padres look in other directions to acquire Starting Pitching depth. However, with what San Diego has behind Gregerson and Thatcher on their Roster and at the Double & Triple-A levels, parting ways with their veterans to acquire a promising Starter like Porcello might be a solid trade for the franchise to make. I for one am intrigued to see what transpires over the next two to three months, and I hope that the Padres can find a way to further upgrade their Starting Rotation. My only hope is that if the Friars do deal one or both of their veterans out of the Bullpen that the guys taking their places’ can step up and make the transition seamless.