Leave it to the Los Angeles Dodgers to swoop in this winter and grab one of the few free agent targets the San Diego Padres were actually considering. LA has reportedly come to terms with free agent pitcher James Paxton, so it's back to the drawing board for AJ Preller and the Padres' front office.
Recent rumors suggested that Paxton was on the Padres' radar. With an obvious hole in the rotation, it made sense that the Friars would attempt to bring The Big Maple to San Diego.
Hyun-Jin Ryu and Michael Lorenzen were also linked to San Diego earlier this week, but one of those two pitchers makes much more sense than the other.
Padres should prioritize Hyun-Jin Ryu over Michael Lorenzen
If the Padres are debating between Ryu and Lorenzen, with all things being equal, it makes much more sense to go with the lefty. The Padres have just one left-handed starter on the 40-man roster, and it's possible that Jay Groome won't even survive roster cuts this spring.
Ryu pitched in 11 games for the Toronto Blue Jays last season after missing the first half of the year following from Tommy John surgery in 2022. Ryu has 186 games under his belt and career 3.27 ERA. It'd be nice to bring him aboard and give him some revenge games against the Dodgers, too!
While Lorenzen was more durable last season, the Padres have enough right-handed starters. Lorenzen signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Tigers and was dealt at the trade deadline to the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite throwing a no-hitter during his short Phillies' tenure, manager Rob Thomson relegated the 32-year-old to the bullpen over the final few weeks of the 2023 season.
Hyun-Jin Ryu & Michael Lorenzen would be short-term fits for the Padres
Both Ryu and Lorenzen are likely stopgap options for San Diego next season. While Lorenzen could command a two-year deal, it's much more likely both he and Ryu sign a one-year pact with a mutual or club option for the 2025 season.
The Padres could sign one of these two free agent pitchers, then continue to develop their young core of pitching prospects with the idea of allowing one of Robby Snelling, Drew Thorpe, or Adam Mazur to secure a starting job ahead of the 2025 season.
Whatever route Preller plans to take, he'd better do so quickly. With Paxton heading to the Dodgers and Ryu being pursued by more teams than just the Padres, the next group of left-handed starters would leave San Diego sifting through the likes of Alex Wood, Eric Lauer and Rich Hill.