Padres Editorial: Free Agent Hunt – Pitchers

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Sep 29, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Mat Latos (55) delivers a pitch during the eighth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Hisashi Iwakuma

Iwakuma comes off of another good ERA season with an injury that limited him. In 2014, he missed 5 starts. In 2015, he missed 13. That’s a bad trend heading into his age 35 season. So too is his slowly increasing ERA. Last year’s 3.54 was a hair above his career high. For these worries, Iwakuma is a buy-low free agent – estimated at three years, $45 million.

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Iwakuma was worth $23.8 million per year over the past three seasons, when using the $/WAR standard, despite the missed time.

Iwakuma is a risk and a pretty expensive one for an older pitcher with some injuries. Preller would be and likely will be wise to pass.

Mat Latos

Another buy-low guy. After a 2015 that saw injures, a 4.95 ERA, and Latos on three different teams, the former-Padre is a perfect candidate for a one-year contract. While in 2014 and 15, Latos failed to avoid the injury bug, he had been a consistent and reliable pitcher before. From 2010-14, Latos threw up a 3.27 ERA (116 ERA+), 3.33 FIP, and averaged 29 starts.

Next season, Latos will be 28. He is projected to get a one-year deal worth $12 million.

On the bad side, one could argue that he has declined over the past couple years. He has never pitched well in the first or last month of the season, which is extra bad if the Padres hope to play in October. Plus, he is allowing a higher and higher rate of hits.

On the good side, he pitched well in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball in Cincinnati. He had only one bad year and that came while never seeming to get comfortable in his new settings. Perhaps a familiar one would do him some good. His walk rate remains good. Lagos will only be 28.

This would be one of my favorite candidates. He’s a low risk, high reward player. If he does well, perhaps the Padres could throw in an option in the contract for 2017. If he doesn’t work out, then he won’t set the franchise back (like if James Shields continues the poor play he showed in 2015).

Mike Leake

Leake is very consistently average – a slightly better version of Ian Kennedy, really. His peripheries have been remarkably consistent throughout his career. There’s really not much to say other than that he is just average. By average, I mean a career 101 ERA+ kind of average. However, with the money the Padres have available, average might be all they can get.

Estimates have Leake inking a five-year deal for $18 million average. He was worth $14.8 million per year over the past three years. So the asking price is about right considering he will be entering his physical prime.

The problem here is that the Padres need a shortstop more than a guy who’s two years younger than Gallardo with virtually the same ERA. Leake would be a good sign, but an expensive one.

Now, onto perhaps the best pitchers.

Next: Pitching Targets