3 mid-tier starters the San Diego Padres should target during free agency, 1 they should avoid

The San Diego Padres need rotation help behind Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish. Here are some pitchers they should consider bringing in, and one they should avoid.

Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners
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The San Diego Padres will look for better results next season after a brutal 2023. They'll look to do that with a rotation that is filled with a bunch of question marks.

Will Yu Darvish bounce back at age 37? Can Joe Musgrove stay healthy? Who will even take the ball after them? Blake Snell is a free agent at season's end. Seth Lugo will likely join him when he opts out. Michael Wacha's option is a bit more complicated, but there's a good chance he's joining free agency as well. That leaves three holes.

We know Snell is all but gone at this point. He should win the NL Cy Young Award and has likely priced himself out of San Diego. Lugo and Wacha could return depending on how much they make in free agency, but they could've outpriced themselves too. The Padres might have to look at external options for pitchers to slot in behind Darvish and Musgrove. These are some arms they should pursue and one A.J. Preller shouldn't go anywhere near.

Padres should target Rangers starter Andrew Heaney in free agency

Andrew Heaney has a player option worth $13 million that he could choose to opt into if he wants to stay in Texas. However, with how much starting pitchers are being paid these days, there's a good chance he's going to opt out and become a free agent. If this does happen, the Padres should pounce.

The Padres saw Andrew Heaney at his ceiling in 2022 with the Dodgers. He had a 3.10 ERA in 16 appearances, and he allowed just two earned runs in his four outings and 16.2 innings pitched against the Padres. That includes his fine postseason start against San Diego. Heaney took that good year and turned it into two guaranteed years with Texas with him having the chance to opt out after one. He wasn't as good as he was with Los Angeles, but Heaney pitched well for the Rangers this season.

In 34 appearances (28 starts), the southpaw had a 4.15 ERA in 147.1 innings of work. The oft-injured lefty finally stayed healthy for Texas and showed he's more than capable in the middle of a rotation for a playoff team. His walks spiked and he's always given up a few too many home runs, but Heaney was able to give consistent length and has always found a way to rack up the strikeouts. His 107 ERA+ suggests he was an above-average pitcher this season.

The Padres will be losing a left-hander in Snell, so why not replace him with a different one in Heaney? He's nowhere near as good as Snell, but few pitchers are. He's fine as a third or fourth starter.