Padres: No, the club did not lose out on the Lance Lynn sweepstakes
By Logan Whaley
The San Diego Padres were considered ‘losers’ after missing out on acquiring Lance Lynn.
In the middle of this year’s Winter Meetings, which were necessarily conducted virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, New York Post’s Joel Sherman broke the news that the Chicago White Sox had acquired veteran RHP Lance Lynn from the Texas Rangers.
Shortly after that, ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweeted RHP Dane Dunning was headed to the Lone Star state as the main piece. Texas also acquired LHP Avery Weems to complete the swap. Following a 12 year postseason draught, the White Sox moved on a deal for Lynn quickly to solidify their drive to a World Series championship in 2021.
The Padres were a team in 2020 who themselves made the postseason for the first time in 14 years. Despite earning the higher seed in the first round, the Padres upset the St. Louis Cardinals. A positive progression for a club that has struggled to garner success over a handful of years, the Padres also have the second-best farm system in baseball, per Baseball America.
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The acquisition of starting RHP Mike Clevinger was a colossal boon, although it came at the expenditure of RHP Cal Quantrill and a slew of other top 30 prospects. Clevinger finished his first stint in the Padres uniform with a 2.84 ERA before succumbing to an arm injury, which kept him out of the playoffs last season and will cause him to miss the 2021 regular season following Tommy John surgery.
Therein lies the challenge of why it seemed silly that A.J. Preller failed to make even the slightest chirp in interest for acquiring Lynn. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) also reported Lynn’s change of mind to sit out the remainder of last season had he been traded to a team he did not wish to join. In a strange divergent full-circle, it brings things back to the present.
Dunning ranked as Chicago’s number ten overall prospect, and Weems found himself to be unranked. On paper, it would seem to be the case and argument, “How in the heck did the Padres decide not to jump all over Lynn?” There are a few simple answers to that question, many of whom involved will probably keep it close to their chest.
San Diego dealt Quantrill last season as part of the Clevinger package. Quantrill was touted as one of the highest-ranking prospects in the system. He has done well for himself thus far. The additional players involved were not as established, which brings the argument to an overarching guesstimation – direct and straightforward, the Padres would have paid a premium to acquire Lynn for this upcoming season.
The Padres, as stacked as they are at the moment, would have more than likely been at Chicago’s beckoning call to provide two top 20 prospects as the return asking price. On top of that, San Diego could be in a potential roster crunch with Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, and Wil Myers accounting for over $76 million on the payroll.
It is unlikely a deal for Lynn would have caused too much strain, realistically speaking, but an additional $9.3 million to account on the payroll for a year doesn’t make much sense. Lynn put together a monster 2019 campaign and a decent 2020 season. His FIP and xFIP both increased along with his home run rate.
Ultimately, I struggle to personally buy into the hype surrounding Lynn. He will be in a better spot by far with a White Sox offense behind him over a Rangers offense. However, he is still 34 years old and is a prime regression candidate. FanGraphs Steamer projections have him at 32 starts and a 4.28/4.31/4.33 pitching slash line next season. Maybe Lynn balls out. However, my money is he sticks between the number three and four in the rotation, and by and by is who he is, but only time will tell.