The San Diego Padres are in rebuilding mode, with a targeted contention year of 2019. The only problem is, it seems they are setting themselves up for a major starting pitching crisis after 2017.
It is about to be spring training, the most exciting time of the baseball season. Nobody in the San Diego Padres organization wants to be discussing rebuilding. But the reality is, even in the midst of the excitement of a fresh start, success is still quite possibly a ways away.
The target season for this team to contend set by general manager A.J. Preller is 2019. This, of course, shapes the way the organization sets up their roster. On the surface, with young position players with loads of potential such as Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, and Ryan Schimpf, the process seems to be going smoothly.
But once again, the achilles heel of the roster is the pitching staff, especially the rotation. The Padres made a valiant attempt to remedy this issue during the offseason, which may just work.
For 2017 anyway.
After losing Tyson Ross and Edwin Jackson to free agency, San Diego made sure to bring back 33-year-old southpaw Clayton Richard. They also ended up bringing in Trevor Cahill and Jhoulys Chacin as rotation options, and may not be done.
The only problem is, all three of these contracts will last only through the 2017 season. Each are signed for $1.75 million, but can become free agents as early as 2018.
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Not to get too far ahead, but the Padres are going to have a problem unless they are able to cash in on some long term contracts. While unlikely, it is possible that their top three starters in 2017 may be gone before 2018. Chacin and Cahill have yet to prove that they have any vested interest in the organization, and Richard may seek better opportunities to win as he enters the late stages of his career.
Many fans commended the Padres for pulling off contracts with these three hurlers, as the club solidified the pitching staff without breaking the bank. This is exciting for the 2017 season, as long as Preller and the front office have a plan in place to pull another offseason like this one before 2018.
It is natural to think that the Padres are a club built for the future given their young talent at key positions. However, the lingering void of a reliable starter who is under team control for seasons to come could lead to an epic collapse after 2017. The reality is somewhere in between, as long as the Padres foresee the possible dilemma they could face next offseason.