As presently constructed, the San Diego Padres are positioned as strongly as any team in baseball -- including the American League -- to win a World Series. There's about five or six teams in that conversation, but the Padres are undoubtedly one of them thanks to the star-studded roster AJ Preller has assembled over the years.
Having said that, the Padres might rank near the bottom of the contenders tier. The reason for that? The questions about their starting rotation.
Nobody would argue that Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove aren't formidable top-of-the-rotation horses. While neither hurler is a surefire ace, you're talking about a trio that can go out and neutralize a lineup every fifth day.
While that's all well and good, the Padres rotation lacks any semblance of clarity behind Darvish, Snell and Musgrove.
Seth Lugo, seemingly signed to be a starter, has made 12 starts since 2018, including zero over the last two seasons. During that stretch, he served as the setup man for Edwin Diaz in Queens. Nick Martinez, meanwhile, is capable of starting or coming on in relief, but making him a starter will raise concerns about the bullpen.
If we're aware of this, you can bet Preller is, too. In fact, San Diego has shown interest in Marlins right-hander Pablo Lopez, per The Athletic's Dennis Lin.
Will the Padres trade for Marlins starting pitcher Pablo Lopez?
If you haven't heard, the Padres have received inquiries on Ha-Seong Kim and Trent Grisham, and Lin understands that San Diego is "open to discussing either player" with more incentive to offload Grisham if a buyer emerges.
While Grisham doesn't exactly fit Miami's need for offense -- he hit a lowly .184 last season after slashing .242/.327/.413 in 2021 -- what team would turn their nose up at a two-time Gold Glove center fielder?
Kim, meanwhile, is a stud defensively and made notable strides with the bat in '22, setting career-highs across the board with his average climbing a whopping .049 points from 2021; his first season in MLB after a seven-year run in the KBO.
Selling you on Lopez isn't the hard part. Just 26 years old, Lopez won't hit free agency until after the 2024 season, so he'd give San Diego needed insurance in the rotation given Musgrove is the only starter (including Lugo and Martinez) signed through 2024.
Over the last three seasons, Lopez owns a 3.47 ERA in 63 starts. Not a huge sample size, but 2022 marked the biggest workload of is career. Before the All-Star break, Lopez pitched to a 2.86 ERA before it climped to 3.75 by the end of the year. Not surprising given he set a career-high in innings pitched (180) by nearly 70 innings.
Again, the kicker is Preller forming a package that would appease the Marlins enough to part ways with Lopez. Though flush with pitching, Miami isn't going to jettison Lopez for spare parts. Would Grisham and Kim be enough to see it through? Would Preller have to sacrifice a prospect or Jake Cronenworth's offense to get it done?
The possibilities are endless, but the tea leaves indicate Preller is working the phones like a mad man. Just a typical Friday for the GM.