While the San Diego Padres interest in Noah Syndergaard seems to have cooled due to the Mets attempting to compete in 2019, there are plenty of starting pitchers still available on the free agent/trade market.
The MLB Winter Meetings get underway in just a matter of hours and while most of the major pitching free agents/trade targets that have been connected to the San Diego Padres are now obsolete, there are still big moves to be made and with AJ Preller at the helm of the Padres, anything is possible, right?
To address the starting rotation, Preller should attempt to sign free agents who won’t break the bank in 2019 and can still slot in as a mid-rotation arm to help bridge the gap as fans wait for top pitching prospects to arrive. Trevor Cahill has been drawing considerable interest on the market, could a reunion be in store for Cahill and the Padres?
Cahill was a member of the San Diego Padres during the first half of the 2017 season. After a solid first half of the season with the Padres he was shipped to Kansas City, along with Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter. The Padres acquired three players including current pitcher Matt Strahm.
Cahill, who will turn 31 during the 2019 season, has the perfect blend of experience and familiarity with the Padres, that a reunion is not out of the question. He is coming off a 7-4, 3.76 ERA reunion-season with the A’s and has had his best career seasons out on the west coast. Over his 10 years as a major league pitcher, he owns a 4.08 ERA. Cahill could become a solid and affordable option for the Padres on a three/four-year deal and hold down a mid-rotation spot.
After two separate stints with the Padres, with varying degrees of success, Tyson Ross is a free agent again. As a member of the Padres and the Cardinals last season Ross posted a 4.16 ERA and was able to emerge as one of the Padres best starters before being placed on waivers and claimed by St. Louis.
MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell has stated a few times already that he fully expects the Padres to sign one or two veterans late in the offseason to come in and compete during spring training, exactly like they did last season with Ross and Chris Young. Would fans be open to signing Ross for a third time?
Ross will be 32 come April but has shown that he is finally healthy after two seasons of surgery and rebounding. He will be a veteran presence for the younger arms to learn from and can be used out of the pen in long relief roles. With St. Louis, Ross made nine appearances (eight of them in relief), going 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.
While some fans were hoping for a bigger free agent splash, such as Nathan Eovaldi or Dallas Keuchel, these two former Padres are more known commodities with the team. Each will be able to contribute right away and help ease the transition.
A trade for Gray appears more and more likely for the San Diego Padres.
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Sonny Gray is an intriguing option, with whom the Padres have been rumored to be in the mix for, recently. Gray had an up and down time with the New York Yankees. Over a rough 2018, he posted a 4.90 ERA, which included being demoted to the bullpen. If acquired, the Padres front office would hope that pitching coach Darren Balsley would be able to help Gray reach the heights he did back in 2014 and 2015 with the Oakland A’s.
What is interesting about Gray is he is under team control for only a year. Therefore an expected trade would not break the bank for the Padres. As AJ Cassavell pointed out, it would most likely only take a midlevel prospect or two to trade for Gray. In addition, if he performs well, the Padres may be able to flip him at the trade deadline in July to help fill other holes in the roster or work out a new deal that would pair Gray with Garrett Richards in 2020.
The Padres may not compete for a postseason birth in 2019, but by laying the groundwork and acquiring quality MLB level pitchers, it will be a step in the right direction.