What to do with Joey Lucchesi and Cal Quantrill?
The two players that are likely to be impacted the most are Joey Lucchesi and Cal Quantrill. The former led the Padres in innings pitched a year ago, and as of today, would appear to be the fifth starter in the rotation. The 26-year-old posted a 4.18 ERA in 30 starts while striking out 158 in 163.2 innings.
The team’s fourth-round pick of the 2016 MLB Draft is under team control through the 2023 season, and he also has three minor league options left. Would he be willing to accept a lesser role after establishing himself as a big-league starter last year? Fangraphs takes a liking to Lucchesi, projecting a 4.19 ERA in 32 starts this year, so I imagine a demotion would be difficult for his psyche.
Quantrill, 25, has been linked to trade rumors this offseason, particularly the one that would have sent Wil Myers to the Boston Red Sox. The former eighth overall pick of the 2016 MLB Draft was on track to post a quality 2019, but then September happened where he posted a 10.80 ERA in four starts.
He’s under contract through the 2025 season, so it’s plausible that he could begin the year with Triple-A El Paso. But like Lucchesi, he made 18 starts and five appearances out of the bullpen a year ago, so a demotion could potentially not be taken well.
Both Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez were expected to take on more prominent roles this year as well. Morejon pitched just 44.0 innings over 18 starts and three appearances out of the bullpen last year between the Double-A and big-league level. Shoulder impingements limited his production, but he’s reportedly 100 percent healthy heading into this year. The 21-year-old is without a spot in the rotation this year and is likely to begin the year at Triple-A El Paso.
Baez was a starter throughout the minors before last year when he made just one start for the Padres but had a combined 38 appearances out of the bullpen between Double-A and the big leagues. He’s reportedly transitioning back to a starting pitcher this year, so his season will likely begin at Triple-A El Paso as well.
You can see where I am headed with this, in that there is already a log-jam in the big league rotation. There is the potential for another one to occur at the Triple-A level, especially with Luis Patino expected to either begin the 2020 season there or be promoted from Double-A after a few starts.
Let’s identify several potential solutions.