Two more free agent targets are off the board for the San Diego Padres.
Wow. Maybe AJ Preller has plans formulating behind closed doors and we will see a major roster addition to the San Diego Padres in the coming weeks. It is only January 2nd, meaning plenty of offseason left, however, spring training will be here before we know it. Or maybe Preller really is that high on the upside of his team and wants to see what 2019 brings. Either way, will San Diego look back and wish they were more aggressive on two of their latest targets to come off the board?
Months ago when Yusei Kikuchi was first connected to the San Diego Padres, I opined that the Padres should stay away. Initial reports and conversations about Kikuchi were highly positive yet highlighted his injury history, specifically to his shoulder.
However, as the offseason began and more reports and information emerged with the announcement of his definite move to the United States, the thought of adding Kikuchi became more positive. He posted another dominant season in the NPB, meticulously tracked his data, tweaked and refined his delivery, and even began experimenting with new pitches that could help him transition to Major League Baseball. Kikuchi even began work on learning the English language, all pointed out by The Japan Times’ Jim Allen.
With a starting rotation currently consisting of two second-year pitchers, two arms who have been largely used in relief over the past few years, and a collection of Jacob Nix, Brett Kennedy, and Bryan Mitchell, the Padres need arms that can start and make it through a full season. Sure, Chris Paddack could see time, but he will be limited in his continued return from Tommy John, Logan Allen and Cal Quantrill could be up, but they are rookies.
Trading for a starting pitcher costs prospects. Signing a free agent costs nothing but money, something the Padres have a lot of. Kikuchi’s deal with the Seattle Mariners is pretty team-friendly and could have been a great deal for the Padres, yet some of the only noise that came out of San Diego was the notion that the Padres’ front office didn’t want to get into a bidding war, despite liking what Kikuchi brings to the table (per a Dennis Lin chat over at The Athletic).
The deal with Seattle is broken down as a three-year/$43 million guaranteed deal with a player option for 2022 ($13 million). Just over $14 million per year is right at what MLBTradeRumors projected as free agency began. If Kikuchi doesn’t pan out, he’s done after three years and the franchise can move on without a massive financial loss. If he succeeds, the Mariners can kick in an additional four year/$66 million deal, bumping his yearly contract to just over $16 million per year.
Maybe other teams were scared off by his shoulder or saw more in his tape/numbers and missing out on Kikuchi will turn out to be a good move for the Padres. We won’t know until the games play out.
At this point, my frustration isn’t at not signing Kikuchi specifically, it’s more at the lack of movement overall. Yes, rookies will come up and make contributions. Hopefully, a few pan out to become productive major leaguers. But who is going to pitch in 2019?
San Diego Padres also miss out on potential third base option.
In other transaction news across the league, the New York Yankees continued their stockpiling of talent, signing veteran infielder Troy Tulowitzki. Despite numerous injuries and having played just 66 games over the past two seasons, Tulo’s hefty contract is being paid by the Toronto Blue Jays, leaving whichever team signed him with a league-minimum, veteran infielder with 224 career home runs.
The Padres are said to be in the market for a third baseman and Tulo’s agent has stated that his client is open to moving to third base. San Diego was present at the 34-year-old’s workout, which by all accounts was a productive workout.
Currently, Ty France/Greg Garcia/Jason Vosler appear to be in contention for the starting third base job in 2019, unless Wil Myers returns to the hot corner. However, as the offseason moves along and no definite answer is given as to where Myers will play, it seems more likely that he returns to the outfield.
With the holidays now behind us, will we see an uptick in offseason activity? For our sanity, let’s hope so.