The Padres just signed to what is the largest free agent contract in baseball history. At least for the next few hours until Harper signs.
So What is Next for the Padres
I talked about this in a previous article, but I have made some changes to my thinking after talking to people in the organization and seeing what they signed Machado for.
To determine what comes next, it’s critical to look at what they need and what they are good at. What are the Padre’s deficiencies now? What are their strengths and biggest areas of depth?
The Padres starting pitching was the worst in the NL last season and it got worse in the 2nd half when veterans like Ross, Richard, and Lyles were jettisoned. It is also heavily left handed.
The Padres had the worst on-base percentage in baseball in 2018.
The Padres have 6 OF with MLB experience to fill 4 spots on the 25 man roster. 3 starters and one backup. Unless he is traded, Wil Myers is guaranteed one of those spots. Manny Margot is a lock in CF. That leaves 4 guys competing for the RF and 4th OF spots.
The Padres bullpen was the best in the NL last season and everyone except Diaz will return to start 2019.
The Padres IF defense is exceptional now. Hosmer is the best scooper in the game, Kinsler was the Gold Glove winner last year, Urias is good and Tatis is exceptional at SS, and Machado is one of the best in baseball at 3B.
What Should the Padres Do Now?
With Machado in house, the Padres need to work on starting pitching. Last season they ended the year with 3 rookies in the rotation, Lucchesi, Lauer and Nix, and a guy that had just 9 career starts coming into 2018 in Mitchell.
Who is available?
On the FA market, Dallas Kuechel and Gio Gonzales are the best of what is left. Gonzales would be a short term fix and Kuechel would be a longer term and much more expensive option. Both are LHP.
In trade, players like Kluber, Bauer, Stroman, Greinke, and possibly deGrom if he doesn’t sign an extension, are top of the rotation arms that are potentially on the market. Syndergaard may also be available.
Many more like Alex Cobb, Michael Fulmer, and Danny Duffy are also rumored to be available.
What Type of Pitcher are they Going After?
The Padres just dropped huge dollars on Machado for 10 years. To me, it looks like they are going to want to contend sooner rather than later. So I would think they would go after a top of the rotation starter.
FA or Trade?
The Padres have the best farm system in baseball with 7 top 100 prospects that are starting pitchers. It makes much more sense with all that prospect capital to spend it in trade than to hope to beat the odds and have more than one of those pitching prospects make it in the bigs.
Earlier I thought the Padres would go after a middle of the rotation starter like Cobb in trade and get another middle of the rotation starter like Gonzales in FA.
I still think the Padres will sign Gio Gonzales to a one year deal with an option to eat innings, but I think that the Padres will go after a guy that can pitch at the top of that rotation.
Let’s Look at the Trade Options
Kluber will be 33 this season. While he has 3 years of team control, starting pitchers start to decline after their age 32 season. Is he going to be a top of the rotation starter for the next 3 seasons? Probably not.
Bauer has 2 years of team control and has said he will definitely go through arbitration each year and into FA. Is that the kind of guy the Padres want?
Stroman had an injury filled 2018 and his production was way off. Do the Padres consider him a top of the rotation starter? I don’t.
deGrom is definitely an Ace and he has 2 years of team control left. Syndergaard is an extreme injury risk, but he has 3 years of team control left. They play for the Mets which somehow believe that they can contend in 2019, so even if they cannot extend deGrom I think they will keep him and Syndergaard.
Greinke is 35 and makes $34.5 million per season. I think we can safely say he is not a good option.
I say go with Kluber. While he is older and will undoubtedly decline, because of his age he will cost less than Bauer or deGrom/Synderegaard in trade and he will still be the Ace of the Padres staff.
What will it take to get Kluber
I have heard some outrageous ideas on Kluber. 6 for 1 deals. Tatis or Urias. Let’s get real. He is 33, 6 years older than Sale was when he was traded. The Indians are not asking for nor will they get that kind of deal.
Look at the Indians needs for an indication of what they are going to want. Their OF is barren. They will need an arm that can step into the back end of the rotation to eat up some of the innings they lose from Kluber.
They need an MLB ready, or close to ready, catcher that can hit. It will probably need to include another good prospect, but not one in the Top 100.
Hunter Renfroe fits the bill in the OF. He has power. He has 4 years of team control. He has proven he can do it in the majors.
Logan Allen is a top 100 prospect that is close to MLB ready. He will be up in 2019 if he stays with the Padres. He would step into the Indians as their #3 overall prospect.
Then a catcher that can hit. The Indians sent Mejia to the Padres because they do not believe he can stick at catcher. I believe they are right. So that would man Austin Allen would be a good fit. He is on the Padres 40 man roster and they believe he can stick at catcher.
Add another pitcher to the mix like 1st round pick Cal Quantrill that is just outside the top 100 prospects or a guy like Nix that can step into the MLB rotation in Cleveland immediately. If its Nix, the Padres would probably have to include a lower level lottery ticket like Avila to the deal.
That kind of package of players fits the needs of the Indians and the Padres.
When does a trade or FA signing happen
It needs to happen soon. This week would be ideal. Now that the big signing has happened, the Padres need to make a move immediately on fixing the starting pitching.
That is my take. What do you think?