Padres To Become A Free Agency Buyer?


Are the Padres going to be a buyer in this upcoming season Winter Meetings and Free Agency market? A lot remains to be seen, but the initial signs for us are promising. We had a solid record post All-Star break, demonstrated the upside potential of a young nucleus and have a new ownership group interested in making a fresh impact on the team. Chances are good that the Padres will be spending.

To be fair, there are a lot of extra costs already for the Padres, including physical upgrades to the stadium, and the need to retain existing players through arbitration. Nonetheless, Josh Byrnes has hinted at pursing either 1 or 2 SPs in Free Agency this season. I’m wondering where these pitchers will all fit. Consider our current lineup, anchored by Volquez and Richard, and supported by young fireballers Casey Kelly, and Andrew Cashner, and filled out at the end with wily veterans like Eric Stults or Jason Marquis. Even Bass is in the mix. And don’t forget, we will also have Corey Luekbe returning at some point. So it seems if the Padres are to pick up a SP, they should only target a #1 or #2 impact pitcher, or a veteran bounce back pitcher willing to sign for value. There’s simply no more room just to sign just an average pitcher any more, as we have enough coming up from the farm. So without further adieu, here’s a look at some of the elite crop for the Free Agent SP market and their potential fit for the Padres.

Top Tier

September 30, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Zack Greinke (23) throws to the Texas Rangers during the first inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE

Zack Greinke – 15-5, 3.48 ERA, 212.1 IP, 200 K, 1.20 WHIP, 3.3 WAR
A former cy young, 29 years young and very skilled. Some documented and known anxiety issues with big city media, but that could play into the Padres favor with the laid back San Diego scene. This guy is arguably the most sought after pitcher in this free agent pool, so I think this really comes down to price, or upwards of 25M per year. It that sensible for the Padres? Getting Greinke could happen, but so could spending the entire pool along with it. This scenario reminds me of the time when the Chicago Bears made the grand experiment of letting Mike Ditka operate as general manager. He traded every single pick he had in return for Ricky Williams, and then left the draft early and completely to go smoke a cigar. And the rest, is as they say is history.

Hiroka Kuroda – 16-11, 3.32 ERA, 219.2 IP, 167 K, 1.17 WHIP, 5.2 WAR
The Yankees best pitcher last year and will likely have a lot of suitors in the market. While Kuroda was on the Dodgers, he was a Josh Byrnes favorite. Which means, whatever magic formula that Byrnes uses to evaluate pitchers, this guy has got to be up there. And we know Byrnes like going after his guys, such as Quentin and Street. The last Japanese pitcher that Padres had was Otsuka Akinori, and that brought on some extra Japanese media. I’m sure new owners wouldn’t mind attracting more Japanese media.

Dan Haren – 12-13, 4.33 ERA, 176.2 IP, 142 K, 1.29 WHIP, -0.6 WAR
Had a mediocre 2012, but has excellent recent history and is still a spruce 32 years of age. Free Agents looking to bounce back often make their way to Petco, and for a bargain off their market value. Could Byrnes find the 2010 Jon Garland, and the 2011 Aaron Harang, and the 2012 Edison Volquez here in Dan Haren? Only baseball knows.

Second Tier

Shaun Marcum – 7-4, 3.70 ERA, 124 IP, 109 K, 1.27 WHIP, 1.3 WAR
Has a history of being an innings workhorse in the past, which would make him attractive to the Padres. Not a staff ace, but could help solidify a rotation. Unclear if the Padres rotation, which is stacked with several young and upcoming pitchers would be a fit for a Marcum. Like many things, it may come down to price.

Joe Saunders – 9-13, 4.07 ERA, 174.2 IP, 112 K, 1.34 WHIP, 1.3 WAR
Saunders has an Arizona connection for Byrnes and although his overall stats last year do not stand out, his late season trade to the Orioles resulted in significantly stronger play, as well as an ability to deliver in the post season and provide quality starts in high pressure situations. Those qualities could be a fit for a Padre team that is looking to matter at the end of the year and the dream of post-season play.

Tim Hudson – 16-7, 3.62 ERA, 179.0 IP, 102 K, 1.21 WHIP, 1.3 WAR
Tim Hudson was on my fantasy baseball team last year and did very well for me. A declining veteran nearing the end of his career, his production and stats are still very strong, and he is an experienced winner that knows what it takes to produce. Do these qualities make him attractive to the Padres? Is his time in Atlanta over, and if so would he be willing to sign for value on the Padres to help anchor an up and coming staff? Hudson could be that fit and cog the Padres are looking for.