This buy-low trade candidate would rectify Padres' rotation concerns

Jerry Trotta
Jun 13, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson
Jun 13, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ian Anderson / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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The San Diego Padres have invested too much into their offense to let a middling starting rotation be their downfall in 2023.

While Blake Snell, Yu Darvish, and Joe Musgrove form an intimidating top three, the fourth and fifth options leave a lot to be desired ... mostly because it's anyone's guess who will fill those spots.

As of this writing, the favorites are Nick Martinez, who bounced between the rotation and bullpen in 2022, and Seth Lugo, who was brought in to be a starter but has started a grand total of seven games since 2018. All of those starts came in 2019, meaning Lugo's spent three of the last four years as a full-time reliever.

So, yes, it would behoove the Padres to add more reinforcements. The only problem? Corey Kluber and Nathan Evoaldi -- arguably the two best starters on the market -- signed with the Red Sox and Rangers, respectively, this week.

With the free agent market running thin, Braves right-hander Ian Anderson could be an ideal buy-low trade target for the Friars.

Should the Padres trade for Braves starter Ian Anderson?

Let's call it like it is: the Padres' track record as far as developing young pitching talent has been anything but exemplary.

Between Chris Paddack, Eric Lauer, Ryan Weathers, and Cal Quantrill, the list goes on in terms of young pitchers who haven't panned out in San Diego. Even former top prospect MacKenzie Gore underwhelmed in 13 starts (16 appearances overall) in 2022 before he was jettisoned to Washington in the Juan Soto blockbuster.

There's nothing wrong with the organization admitting that pitcher development isn't its area of experise. Throw in the fact that Snell, Darvish, and Musgrove were all acquired via trade, and it's pretty clear San Diego would be best served looking outside the organization to round out its starting rotation.

That's where Anderson comes in. While Anderson has regressed after an exceptional start to his career, he still has plenty of potential and upside as a 24-year-old. Between 2020 and '21, Anderson logged a 2.76 ERA, 10.05 strikeouts per nine innings, and a 1.156 WHIP in 30 starts and 160.2 innings. That production saw Anderson finish seventh and fifth, respectively, in Rookie of the Year voting.

This past season marked a big step backwards for Anderson, who was demoted to Triple-A Gwinnett in August. After notching a World Series win just one year ago, Anderson could be on the periphery of the Braves rotation in 2023 with Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Charlie Morton, Spencer Strider and even Mike Soroka ahead of him in the pecking order.

Simply put, a change of scenery is in Anderson's best interest. Preller loves paying a premium for win-now pieces. Not only can Anderson help San Diego win now, but his value has never been lower and he has four years of control remaining.

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