Padres Editorial: Free Agent Hunt – Pitchers

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Oct 9, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Scott Kazmir (26) throws a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning in game two of the ALDS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Wei-Yin Chen

The 30 year-old from Taiwan pitched four years in Baltimore with a good track record. In only one of those four seasons has he failed to start at least 31 games. His career ERA is 3.72 (110 ERA+). While he has given up slightly more hits than he has innings pitched, Chen compensates with a career 2.2 BB/9.

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Projections have Chen making $18 million per year over a five-year contract. Being a year and a half older than Mike Leake but having a better ERA and being left-handed seem to offset each other. Chen is a better option than Leake, but, perhaps, still too expensive. He would fit in as a quite good number three. Looking at his past four years, he was valued around $15 million per year in wins. The Padres would be buying a little high considering most of the contract would likely be paying a declining Chen. Paying him $18 million per year would require that the Padres ship off salary or look to the trade market for a shortstop. The latter isn’t a bad option and is likely necessary.

But, the next man appears to be a better option.

Scott Kazmir

Kazmir has been a great story since the Indians took a risk and signed him for a comeback attempt in 2013. Since then, the lefty has averaged 31 starts and 177 innings along with a 3.54 ERA (109 ERA+) that has improved in each of these past three years. His 3.10 ERA last year was his career best.

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Kazmir has actually gotten better with age, which increases the soon-to-be 32 year old starter’s value. MLB Trade Rumors projects a four-year, $52 million ($13 million average) – the same as Kennedy and Gallardo. Of the three, he would be the best. Unless Robbie Erlin makes the team as the number five starter, the Padres do not have a lefty in the rotation. Note how they also don’t have a good lefty out of the bullpen. Despite his age, Kazmir might be the best option for Preller. The Padres could sign him and still afford a shortstop like Alexei Ramirez.

The knock against sign Kazmir is that Preller would be signing another early-30s veteran pitcher on a team that needs to be looking at the next few years as possible winners. I’m not sure I would buy this criticism, but that makes it no less legitimate.

Keegan’s free agent power rankings, best bang for the Padre buck, best signing for the team are as follows:

  1. Scott Kazmir
  2. Yovani Gallardo
  3. Mat Latos
  4. Wei-Yin Chen
  5. Mike Leake
  6. Hisashi Iwakuma
  7. Ian Kennedy