Padres might have perfect low-cost free agent target for starting rotation

Hope remains that the Padres' rotation won't be a dumpster fire in 2024.
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Six
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Six / Elsa/GettyImages

Make no mistake about it: the San Diego Padres' rotation has some serious issues at the moment. While Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove is a strong 1-2 punch, and Michael King, in theory, should be good, the rest of the Padres rotation has more questions than answers at the moment.

With the free agent departures of Blake Snell, Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha, San Diego has a lot of innings that they are going to need to cover. Getting King back in the Soto trade certainly helped and another piece in that return package, Drew Thorpe, will certainly be competing for a rotation spot this spring.

That still leaves at least one spot in the rotation that needs addressing even under the most optimistic of scenarios.

It does look like the Padres are well-aware of their situation and are still trying to find ways to fill their starting rotation out without breaking the bank. On Monday morning, Jon Morosi reported the Padres have expressed interest in signing free agent starter Michael Lorenzen.

Padres Rumors: San Diego targeting Michael Lorenzen on the free agent market

It isn't all that surprising to see the Padres looking at Lorenzen as he fits the mold of the type of guy they should be targeting. He was predicted to sign a contract somewhere in the two year, $22 million range this offseason which, based on current free agent pitching prices, would almost represent a bargain. Signing him wouldn't over-leverage San Diego's payroll and would give them an experienced starter for the back of their rotation.

There are some concerns with Lorenzen, however. He has steadily missed less and less bats in recent years, and his performance after the Phillies traded for him at the deadline last year (5.51 ERA, 5.3 K/9) left a lot to be desired. There is some upside potentially, though, as Lorenzen looked good enough with the Tigers in the first half of 2023 to warrant making the All-Star Game.

What the Padres REALLY need out of whatever pitcher they sign is innings. Lorenzen was primarily used out of the bullpen during his time with the Reds before transitioning into a starting role with the Angels. He threw a career-high 153 innings in 2023, so if he can give the Padres a 4.00 ERA and cover a similar amount of runway, signing him could be a solid option.

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