The San Diego Padres are now looking for a starting pitcher, and these five guys look like potential fits.
The San Diego Padres signed Manny Machado to a 10-year, $300 million deal this past week. While it’s obviously a big move, it also means they aren’t necessarily all-in on 2019 alone with a significant pipeline of minor league talent coming to join a young superstar.
But on the other hand, three straight 90-plus loss seasons, eight straight seasons below .500 and no playoff appearances since 2006 brings a certain sense of urgency. And as of right now if manager Andy Green declared a starter for Opening Day it would be Joey Lucchesi, who showed he has major league-caliber stuff last year (10.0 K/9) but also had a 4.08 ERA in 26 starts for the Padres.
After signing Machado, San Diego appears to be shifting focus to the starting rotation. But according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Padres are out of the mix for free agent Dallas Keuchel.
The Padres were also rumored to have some level of interest in two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber earlier in the offseason, but age appears to be a factor as they look toward a competitive window beyond 2019.
So it looks like starting pitchers under 30 years old with multiple years of team control are atop general manager A.J. Preller’s list of potential targets, with free agents that can be brought in on a one-year deal (and flipped at the trade deadline?) seemingly possible too.
In any case, here are five starting pitchers the Padres could bring aboard before Opening Day.
5. James Shields, Free Agent
At 37 years old, Shields is in the same boat as Keuchel and Kluber if the Padres are pushing older pitchers aside. He’s also obviously a long way from his peak as a workhorse, but he was an above replacement level starter (1.4 bWAR) for the Chicago White Sox last year (4.53 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 over 204.2 innings-34 appearances, 33 starts).
Shields spent almost a season-and-a-half with the Padres, with his best pitching coming in 2015 (13-7, 3.91 ERA, 9.6 K.9, 3.6 BB/9 over 33 starts-202.1 innings). So that familiarity may matter, and Shields would surely only command a one-year deal for reasonable money. A minor league contract could also be an option, if only to add flexibility for the Padres and Shields if he doesn’t make the Opening Day rotation.
In a perfect scenario for San Diego if they signed Shields, he would make the club, serve as a veteran mentor and pitch well enough to be a trade deadline target for a contending team or two. That’s an awful lot of dominoes, but a reunion with Shields shouldn’t be ruled out.