San Diego Padres rumors: Is this the team's biggest MLB trade deadline need?

San Diego Padres pitcher Robert Suarez
San Diego Padres pitcher Robert Suarez / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the trade rumors and thoughts about the upcoming MLB trade deadline begin to ramp up, what exactly is needed by the San Diego Padres in order to accelerate their chances of not only making the postseason but also hopefully going deep into it?

Well, one MLB insider believes the Padres may just need one of their pitchers to come back off the injured list to fortify the bullpen. Could that really be the most impactful move for the Padres in the upcoming weeks?

San Diego Padres rumors: Is Robert Suarez returning the key to the second half?

In his recent article for The Athletic (subscription required), former MLB general manager Jim Bowden lists the biggest trade deadline needs for all 30 teams. When it comes to the Padres, Bowden says that the biggest need in San Diego is, "Get their key players to play to their potential and get Robert Suarez back from the IL."

Granted, Padres fans have wanted their star-studded lineup to catch fire for weeks now, so players playing to their potential would be a boost. But what about Suarez? Is he really the missing piece the Padres need?

Currently on the 60-day injured list with right elbow inflammation, the 32-year-old Suarez burst onto the scene in 2022, posting a 2.27 ERA/3.22 FIP/1.049 WHIP in 47.2 innings over 45 games. The solid performance earned Suarez a five-year deal with $46 million. However, the Padres have yet to see the fruits of that contract with Suarez developing elbow pain in spring training.

With Suarez going to the 60-day injured list on April 20, the time could be coming for a return to the mound. Padres manager Bob Melvin has indicated Suarez is making steps toward a return, but there is no set timetable on that. However, if all goes well, he should be back on the mound before the trade deadline.

Bowden does, however, add a caveat in his article when it comes to the Padres, writing, "In addition, I believe they need one more bat to upgrade the bottom of their lineup, unless catcher/DHGary Sánchez can keep this up." So far, so good on Sanchez indeed keeping this up, so will San Diego look for minor moves rather than a big splash thanks to hitting the jackpot with Sanchez?

It's just the beginning of Padres rumors season, but a return from Suarez could indeed be a key to second-half success in San Diego.