As the San Diego Padres continue to stockpile elite relief pitching, we look at what it could mean down the road for this team in 2020.
Pagan’s addition to an already deep Padres bullpen gives them an elite and stacked bullpen ahead of spring training.
The Padres will likely fill out the rest of their bullpen from the likes of Andres Munoz, Matt Strahm, Luis Perdomo, Jose Castillo, Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, David Bednar, Javy Guerra, Cal Quantrill, and Trey Wingenter. The full list of their capable MLB relief pitching is even longer.
Not only has AJ Preller amassed a very talented back of the bullpen, but he has also put together extraordinary, borderline absurd talent depth at the position.
What does it mean for the Padres as they look to compete for a playoff spot in 2020 and beyond?
The stacking of the bullpen is likely a matter of strategy based on new rules Major League Baseball has put in place. Strategy based on roster construction and an opportunity for a great deal of flexibility leading up to the mid-season trading deadline.
Starting this year, MLB teams can carry 26 men on their roster. This provides teams some flexibility to carry an additional reliever or utility man.
In the case of the Padres, they can take advantage of both by utilizing a two-way player such as Jake Cronenworth.
Cronenworth affords them the flexibility to preserve an otherwise deep and talented bullpen while adding to their utility depth. In a mop up duty role he would save the likes of Matt Strahm, whose talent exceeds that of a typical long reliever, for use in close games.
With the current roster including Garrett Richards coming off of a partial year due to TJ surgery and the expectation that two of their best internal pitching candidates, MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino, may get called up this season, having a deeply talented bullpen could be a huge asset when limiting the innings of some of their most talented pitchers.
Dinelson Lamet is another that could see some limitation in innings due to recent TJ surgery.
Another interesting wrinkle for the upcoming season is the new three-batter minimum rule. This rule lessens the value of specialty relief pitchers that are only effective against one handedness.
Having a full stable of bullpen pieces capable of getting outs against both righties and lefties is a strategy that could give the Padres an edge over other teams.
Beyond roster construction and strategic on field reasons, the Padres could also be stacking their bullpen in an effort to provide maximum flexibility in trade talks over the next several months and leading up to the trade deadline.
AJ Preller may be positioning the Padres to have the flexibility to buy, sell, or reallocate resources.
Having a top heavy elite bullpen, along with extraordinary depth, positions the Padres to insert themselves into a multitude of trade scenarios.
Bullpen pieces are fairly liquid during trade seasons. Most contending teams will have a need to add to their bullpen and those pieces don’t usually cost enough to not fit into a teams budget.
With a plethora of high leverage, middle relief, and long relief options, AJ will be well positioned to meet the needs of any potential trade partner.
The Padres could attach high end relief to move contracts or acquire the strong prospect assets needed to facilitate other trades that fill position of needs.
They could also acquire needs in trades by adding non-elite bullpen depth to prospect packages.
Finally, if the Padres find themselves not in contention, relievers with less control, such as Yates, could be sent packing for future assets.
Through compiling such incredible bullpen depth, AJ has positioned the Padres to get the maximum out of the current roster, gain an edge with new rules, and have maximum flexibility in facilitating near term future trades.