Major League Baseball players have filed for free agency, and the only Padre on the list is the longest-tured Padre Tim Stauffer. Officially, with the decline of his team option, Josh Johnson is too; though it is tough to consider him a Padre since he never even pitched for them.
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Stauffer’s career has been a little all over the place since he was drafted in the first round by the Padres in the 2003 draft. He just turned 32-years-old, but has been pitching for the Padres since he was 22 years old in 2005. He has served as the Padres long-reliever the last two seasons with two starts in the mix this year, and even set a career high with 44 appearances. His best year was 2011, when he set career marks in innings pitched and games started. He started 31 games that year, going 9-12 with a 3.73 ERA.
It is great to have a versatile pitcher like Stauffer, who has certainly shown throughout his career his selflessness to help the team do whatever he needs to do. In 2010, he not only came on strong at the end of that season to start 7 games, but he finished 12 games and overall pitched in 32 games to an ERA of 1.85. It is also worth noting after that career high workload in 2011 he missed all but one game of the 2013 season.
There are several big name free agent pitchers on the market like Ervin Santana, Jon Lester, and Max Scherzer, so Stauffer will certainly see his demand driven down. Yet if he can get with a team that sees a need for him, he does stand to revive his starting career as he desires. Certainly he isn’t old enough yet to not be a starter, as we see pitchers like Ryan Vogelsong and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey hit their stride much later in their careers. The question with Stauffer is if he can stay healthy long enough to actually realize that chance. So far in his career, he hasn’t been able to.
If he tests the free agent waters and realizes he is no more valuable than all the other right-handed relievers on the market, he might just come back to his comfortable situation in San Diego. Perhaps his old manager Bruce Bochy might take his services in San Francisco as their own depth is tested with the likely departures of the aforementioned Vogelsong and Hudson, or head to a team that is looking for a rotation filler veteran like Minnesota or Chicago until exciting younger players can take their spot in the rotation.
Then again, he very well might just end up coming back to San Diego where he has comfort in starting, relieving, or something in between and will start year 11 in the major leagues with the San Diego Padres. I like this option, as he is likely to be a relatively cheap dependable arm in the bullpen. You know what you are getting with Tim Stauffer, and as injuries always come up, it’s nice to have a good spot start option. It may not be great, but it is probably better than many other options on the market facing the Padres this off-season.