Potential Offseason Target: Joe Thatcher

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

At the 2013 trade deadline, the San Diego Padres were in the market for a controllable starting pitcher that they could plug into the rotation and the Arizona Diamondbacks’ general manager Kevin Towers was interested in adding to a weak Arizona bullpen. The Padres targeted veteran starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, who in the midst of a down season, had deeply reduced his trade value. Kennedy was a former CY Young award winner and a 2013 opening day starter who had worked with Josh Byrnes in the past, and was falling out of favor with the Diamondbacks organization after a very poor start to the season. Kennedy was 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA in Arizona, a team that needed a boost if they were going to attempt to overthrow the Dodgers at the top of the division, so they dealt the struggling veteran in exchange for southpaw reliever Joe Thatcher, who had a 2.10 ERA in 30 innings (50 appearances) as a lefty specialist as well as a minor league prospect (Matt Stites) and a Competitive Balance Lottery Draft Selection. Thatcher was originally a Kevin Towers grab, acquired in the Scott Linebrink trade made during the 2007 season.

After the trade deadline, the Padres finished the season with a 76-86 record, including a 16-11 September. Ian Kennedy finished with a 4-2 record and a 4.24 ERA with the Padres in 10 starts. The Diamondbacks finished with an 80-82 record, but only a 26-29 record after the trade deadline, which was good enough for 2nd place in the division, but not for the playoffs. Joe Thatcher was 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA and 6 walks in 9.1 innings, a walk rate that was almost five times higher than when he was in San Diego.

Both players will be eligible for arbitration this offseason. MLB Trade Rumors projects Joe Thatcher’s salary at 2 million dollars, and Ian Kennedy’s salary to be about 5.8 million dollars through arbitration. Joe Thatcher was also listed as a non-tender candidate after his lackluster performance in Arizona, which seems a little bit like a stretch, but nevertheless could be a possibility. Joe Thatcher would be an excellent match to fill the need of a left handed reliever, that was vacated by his own self. Replacing Joe Thatcher with Joe Thatcher would certainly be the most ideal choice to fill the void. Thatcher would presumably cost about 2 million dollars to sign, a sum that fits into the Padres 80 million dollar budget. I would predict that if he were to be non-tendered, the Padres would be the team to pick him up.

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