The San Diego Padres need to add to their starting rotation. Maybe not as much as their outfield, but another starter or two couldn't hurt. Blake Snell is still a free agent, but AJ Preller and Co. aren't meeting his lofty contract demands, so that forces the Friars' front office to look elsewhere.
While Pads fans haven't heard the name Alek Manoah in quite some time, the Toronto Blue Jays starter was linked to San Diego earlier this winter. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Manoah's name emerged this offseason when the Padres were shopping Juan Soto.
But any lingering hopes that those trade talks could be resurrected seem to have all but expired. According to MLB Network's Jon Morosi, the Blue Jays have no intentions of moving Manoah despite interest from other teams.
Alek Manoah trade rumors have died down to Padres' dismay
Manoah had an odd year in 2023. After an absolutely dominant campaign in 2022 in which he posted a 2.24 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 31 starts for the Blue Jays, Manoah endured one of the worst slumps seen from a starting pitcher in recent memory. It got so bad for Manoah that he was even optioned back to Triple-A midway through the season. The 26-year-old was 3-9 with a 5.87 ERA.
Despite the struggles, there's a lot to like about Manoah's makeup. He's certainly a fiery competitor when he's on the hill, and being only one year removed from an All-Star appearance and third-place finish for the 2022 AL Cy Young Award will continue to earn Manoah high marks even with his down-year in 2023.
Manoah is also under team control through the 2027 season and is pre-arbitration eligible this year, meaning he'll be making the league minimum in terms of salary. Manoah feels like the prime candidate for a bounce-back campaign in 2024.
The Padres starting rotation still has some holes with spring training just around the corner
But alas, it seems as though the Padres missed their window. While the front end of the rotation looks rather formidable with the trio of Joe Musgrove, Michael King, and Yu Darvish, there are definitely concerns on the back end. If no additions are made prior to spring training, there will likely be an in-house competition for the final two spots in the Friars' rotation.
The Padres will have to turn their attention back to the free agent market. San Diego has been linked to right-hander Michael Lorenzen of late. That would provide additional depth to the Padres group of starters, but Lorenzen lacks the upside and cost control of a pitcher like Manoah. This feels like a possible trade Preller should have investigated further if it was attainable.