The Padres have gotten ace-caliber production from rookie Chris Paddack and quality numbers from fellow young starters Joey Lucchesi and Matt Strahm this year, but they’re still not satisfied with their rotation. The club attempted to acquire Indians co-ace Trevor Bauer toward the beginning of the season, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, who reports it’ll continue to seek a No. 1 starter in advance of the July 31 trade deadline. Additionally, San Diego may look for a left-handed hitter to help balance out a righty-heavy lineup, Rosenthal says (video link).
This isn’t the first time the Padres have been tied to the Indians, having reportedly gone after another of their aces, Corey Kluber, in the offseason. The Indians ended up retaining him and Bauer, though, in part because they were expected to contend this year. At 24-20, it appears they’ll do just that, though the back-to-back-to-back AL Central champions are facing plenty of resistance from the first-place Twins. Still, barring a collapse over the next couple months, it may be unrealistic to expect the Tribe to wave the white flag and ship out any of their top pitchers during the season.
Along with Bauer and Kluber, the Padres have reportedly pursued deals for the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard and the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman dating back to the offseason. They also had winter interest in Dallas Keuchel, who remains a free agent almost seven months after hitting the market. Even though Syndergaard hasn’t been his usual dominant self this season, it’s far from a sure thing the Mets would move him and his two-plus years of team control. Stroman, who’s thriving in his penultimate season of control, looks more likely than Syndergaard to change teams during the summer. Rangers lefty Mike Minor is also among controllable starters who may hit the trade block, given that he’s only signed through next season. As for Keuchel, it’s anyone’s guess how much he’ll wind up raking in during his seemingly endless stay on the open market. Furthermore, it’s unknown whether the Padres are still interested in the 31-year-old former AL Cy Young winner.
One thing is clear: Few teams are in better position to make hay on the trade market than the Padres, who continue to boast an enviable farm system. They’re still a work in progress at the big league level, though, as their desire for more starting pitching and offense shows. For the most part, San Diego’s best hitters are right-handed, with first baseman Eric Hosmer the sole lefty-swinging regular on the roster. The lack of balance has been a problem for the Padres, who have only managed an 83 wRC+ with a .686 OPS against right-handed hurlers.