With Zack Wheeler signing for five years and $118 million, it could scare the San Diego Padres and others from the top tier starting pitchers.
It was already starting to look highly unlikely that the San Diego Padres would land a frontline starting pitcher this offseason through free agency.
The payroll for the 2020 season is already approaching $130 million. Even if the budget is significantly increased next season, they likely still can’t afford the $30 million AAV it would take for Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg.
Even if they found someone to take on all of the Wil Myers‘ contract, it would be a stretch to think they could sign either of those top starters.
While I still want to hold onto the hope that they’ll pony up the cash to sign Strasburg, with the way things are shaping up for these free agent starting pitchers, I just don’t see it happening.
Strasburg was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to get a six-year deal for $180 million, but it’s hard to envision him not getting at least a $200 million deal now.
I don’t think the Padres want to play in that range, nor should they.
Teams seem to be desperate for starting pitching this offseason, and it is really driving up the price for these free agents.
Again, I don’t want to let go of the dream, but that door is closing quickly.
And if the Padres aren’t going to get a true ace this offseason like Cole or Strasburg, then I really think the best plan is to let the young guys develop.
If San Diego isn’t willing to pay the high price for an ace, then I think they sign a veteran on a one-year deal for less than $5 million as depth to protect the young arms.
Maybe I’m wrong and A.J. Preller goes out and shocks the world by giving Strasburg a $200 million contract, but more likely they see where the market is going and have moved on.