Recently, the San Diego Padres signed veteran pitchers Tyson Ross and Chris Young to minor league contracts. Both pitchers had already played in San Diego, making their return a nice feel-good story. However, with most of the free agent market still available, why would the Padres turn to two aging veterans so early?
Ross spent four seasons with the Padres from 2013-2016. During that time he pitched to a 26-35 record with a 3.16 ERA and a 531/201 K/BB ratio over 100 games. Ross was also voted to the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.
Overall, Ross has been in the MLB for eight seasons, playing 165 total games with the Athletics, Rangers and Padres. He holds a career 35-56 record with a 3.91 ERA and a 669/308 K/BB ratio.
During his time in San Diego, Ross looked like a star, holding an ERA no higher than 3.26 when he appeared in at least 30 games. He was considered the ace of the staff and was a real workhorse pitcher.
However towards the end of his Padres’ tenure he began to suffer multiple injuries, which has led to his downfall. He appeared in just one game in 2016 while dealing with a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
But even with his injury, Ross was a hot commodity during the 2017 offseason with more than 20 teams showing interest. Eventually he signed a one year deal with the Rangers. Unfortunately he only appeared in 12 games after struggling with injury and ineffectiveness. In Texas he pitched to a 3-3 record with a 7.71 ERA and a 36/37 K/BB ratio.
Ross could be a great addition to the Padres, if he is able to remain healthy and find his 2014 form. However he will need to stay healthy to work his way back into the rotation. There’s no proof that he can do that, but on just a minor-league deal it is worth the shot.
Pitching coach Darren Balsley remains in place, so perhaps he is able to help Ross find his form. Overall, it will come down to health for the former All-Star. If he can remain healthy, there’s a chance he becomes a steal for the Padres. If he continues to struggle, he will likely run out of chances.
Young spent five years with San Diego from 2006-2010. He amassed a 33-25 record with a 3.60 ERA and a 489/240 K/BB ratio. He was voted to the 2007 MLB All-Star Game.
For his whole career, Young has been in the MLB for the past 13 years playing for the Rangers, Mets, Mariners, Royals and Padres. He holds a 79-67 record with a 3.95 ERA and a 1,062/502 K/BB ratio.
Much like Ross, Young’s Padres’ career started out hot before being limited by injuries. He pitched to a sub 4.00 ERA in every year except 2009 for San Diego. The 2007 season was the best of his career when he pitched to a 9-8 record with a 3.12 ERA 167/72 K/BB ratio. On Balsley’s Wikipedia page he is credited with helping Young achieve his greatest season in the major leagues.
Young has actually been relevatively healthy the past few seasons. He only appeared in 14 games in 2017, but pitched in 34, 34 and 30 the three years prior. He had great seasons in 2014 and 2015 where he pitched to a 12-9 record with a 3.65 ERA and a 11-6 record with a 3.05 RTA respectively.
Young is going on 40, so expecting any greatness out of him should not be expected. However, he has pitched well recently and has succeeded under Balsley in the past. Giving him a chance to compete on a minor-league contract isn’t the worst thing San Diego could’ve done.
Both Young and Ross will have an opportunity to win a spot in the starting rotation in Spring Training. Whether they win one or not has little to do with the future of the Padres.
San Diego has multiple young pitching prospects in the farm system that are ready to burst on the scene. Both Young and Ross should be seen as mentors who can help them learn. However while neither Ross or Young have major roles on the team, they will play two very separate parts in 2018.
For Young, he should be treated as strictly a placeholder. Going on 40 he won’t be in the league much longer. He fits the bill as a pitcher who can help the young starters in the farm system. In fact, Roster Resource currently has Young in AAA, a spot that would be perfect for this situation.
Ross on the other hand could potentially be a difference maker. He isn’t going to return to All-Star form, yet he is just 30 years old. If he can stay healthy, perhaps he could be a back end of the rotation fixture going forward.
For now, both Ross and Young are fun signings for Padres’ fans to remember that past. Young should be seen as a mentor whereas Ross has the potential to become a long-term member of the rotation.
However it’s important to remember just how good the pitchers in the Padres’ farm system are and to remember that the team’s pitching staff is going to look much brighter very soon.