The San Diego Padres figure to be busy this offseason as it pertains to strengthening their roster after they fell three wins shy of a World Series appearance. With several hurlers hitting free agency, the starting rotation could look a lot different come spring training.
Those players include Mike Clevinger, Sean Manaea, and Nick Martinez, who brings the best of both worlds as a fill-in starter and bullpen weapon.
While Clevinger and Manaea are unrestricted free agents, Martinez can opt out and earn more than his $6.5 million salary on the open market. Long story short, starting pitching is the Padres’ most glaring need this offseason.
The silver lining is A.J. Preller will consider any and all options to add quality arms behind Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove.
The top free agents include Jacob deGrom, Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Rodón, Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Bassitt. All No. 1-3 staters in an elite rotation, those hurlers will command top-dollar. Already boasting a solid trio, the Padres might be better served buying a cost-effective pitcher on the trade market.
The Marlins’ Pablo Lopez is said to be available, but he’s a hot commodity with teams like the Dodgers and Yankees potentially in hot pursuit.
The Padres should steal Pablo Lopez from the Dodgers to bolster their starting rotation.
The Yankees were in on the Lopez sweepstakes before the 2022 trade deadline, and so were the Dodgers, who were dissuaded by Miami’s absurd asking price.
Per reports, the Marlins wanted Gavin Lux and three prospects from the Dodgers. With Miami shopping for hitters and Lopez now under control for less time, Padres fans can expect both New York and Los Angeles, who, like San Diego, have World Series aspirations, to be back in the mix for the young righty this winter.
Expected to make just $6.3 million in arbitration next season, Lopez would slot in as the Padres’ fourth starter behind Darvish, Snell and Musgrove. Over the last three seasons (63 starts), the 26-year-old has compiled a 3.47 ERA, 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings, a 1.157 WHIP, 2.6 walks per nine innings and a 3.36 FIP.
Nearly everything that was left of the Padres’ once-rich farm system was offloaded at this year’s trade deadline when Preller went out and acquired Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Josh Hader, and Brandon Drury, so San Diego might be a hard sell for Miami relative to the Dodgers and Yankees, who have ample lauded young prospects.
Preller will definitely have to get creative, but Lopez has the talent to be a No. 2 or 3 option in a playoff rotation.
The fact he’d slide in as the Padres’ de facto fourth starter makes pursuing him a no-brainer … unless the ambitious executive would prefer buying low on a middle-of-the-road veteran. Once you get past the top five or six free agents it starts getting a little dicey with names like Taijuan Walker, Michael Wacha, and Jake Odorizzi, among others.
Pablo should be No. 1 on the Padres radar.