The San Diego Padres could benefit from adding another outfielder to the mix -- Jurickson Profar sadly seems destined to sign elsewhere -- but starting pitching is without question the top need remaining for general manager AJ Preller.
You know the deal. Yu Darvish Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove are horses. Nick Martinez and Seth Lugo offer upside and versatility as right-handers who can start or come out of the bullpen, but having them in the rotation for all 162 games would be begging to blow up in Preller (and Bob Melvin's) faces.
After all, Martinez logged only106.1 innings in 2022, and Lugo compiled just 65 innings as the Mets' everyday set-up man for Edwin Diaz. For context, Darvish, Snell and Musgrove totaled 194.2, 128.0, and 181.0 innings, respectively.
Beyond those five guys, the rotation has major question marks. Julio Teheran is an interesting low-risk signing, and could stick as the No. 4 or No. 5 starter with a strong spring training. The kicker there is "could." He's a big quesiton mark.
With burning questions surrounding the starting staff, the Padres went out and signed former KBO standout Wilmer Font to a minor league deal.
The Padres signed RHP Wilmer Font to a minor league contract.
Font isn't a show-stopping signing, but he's a sneaky depth addition who could pitch his way into the rotation if he performs well in spring training; similarly to Teheran. And speaking of the need for innings-eaters, Font fills that bill in street shoes having tallied 184 innings over 28 starts for the SSG Landers this year.
Font spent the last two seasons in Korea after spending parts of five MLB seasons bouncing between Triple-A and the bigs, so this level isn't a foreign language to him. Having trouble finding a stable home (and role), the Venezuela native landed on his feet in the KBO, where he was a catalyst in the Landers' run to the Korean Series in 2022.
In two seasons overseas, Font pitched to a 3.03 ERA with a 1.01 WHIP, 24.5% strikeout rate, 5.9% walk rate and a 53% ground ball rate.
Font joins a crowded pitching room that features righties Teheran, Aaron Brooks, Reiss Knehr, and Pedro Avila, as well as left-handers Alejandro Morejon, Jay Groome and Ryan Weathers. Five of those hurlers (Avila, Knehr, Morejon, Groom, and Weathers) are already on the 40-man roster, indicating they have the inside track as far as making the team out of spring training.
But don't write Font off. He has ample wind in his sails after a fantastic two-year run in Korea, and the Padres used a six-man rotation pretty early in 2022. Even if he starts in Triple-A, Font has the potential to be an impact signing for the Friars.