After dominating headlines for much of the offseason, the San Diego Padres took a back seat this week as the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers stole the show in their record-breaking signing of free agent pitcher Trevor Bauer.
Bauer, who will make $40 million in 2021 and $45 million in 2022, will make more money than any player in baseball the next two years. And, if you ask Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, he makes the Dodgers’ staff the best in Major League Baseball.
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"Could this emerge as one of the great rotations of all time? It’s not inconceivable. After all, the team that already had the National League’s best rotation ERA (3.29) last season has now added the pitcher who had the NL’s best individual ERA (1.73). Oh, and let’s not forget the Dodgers are tossing in a bounce-back candidate in veteran David Price, after he opted out of the 2020 season."
The full list goes as follows:
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- San Diego Padres
- New York Mets
- New York Yankees
- Washington Nationals
The fact we’re seeing the Padres at number two on this list is particularly impressive given the fact the guy they traded for last summer, Mike Clevinger, doesn’t even factor into the picture this year. He’ll miss 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery. If he were healthy, you could definitely see San Diego stand alone atop the league when it comes to its rotation.
But, as Castrovince points out, Clevinger’s injury speaks to the larger concern when it comes to the Padres starting rotation: health.
"The biggest questions here are health-related. Lamet dealt with an elbow issue at season’s end. Snell has also had recent elbow issues, and Darvish had elbow and triceps problems in 2018."
What makes San Diego so potent, in my opinion, is the depth that can help the team withstand any injuries that might come up. And, make no mistake, keeping arms healthy this year will be a challenge for organizations across the league. We’re going from an all-out sprint experienced in last year’s shortened 60-game season to a marathon 162-game campaign in 2021.
If one of the team’s big offseason pickups (Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove) go down, the next generation is ready and waiting in the wings. The best lefty prospect in baseball, MacKenzie Gore, could be an impact arm as soon as this year – and he’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the organization’s immense pitching depth.
Preseason rankings are nice ways to entertain ourselves as we await the return of baseball this month. They mean little. But this one, in particular, could prove to be a nice motivator for the Padres as they draw a target on the backs of the Dodgers this season.