We’ve heard many indications this winter that the Padres won’t be in the market for the very top free agents. While the biggest fish have landed elsewhere, there are still a few major players left for the bidding. And Jon Heyman of MLB Network suggests on Twitter that the Friars may still be involved.
Specifically, Heyman says, the San Diego organization is “taking close looks” at two of the top left-handed hurlers still available: Madison Bumgarner and Dallas Keuchel. Part of the reasoning, it seems, is to take advantage of the strong defenders installed on the left side of the San Diego infield.
The Friars have also been involved to some extent on trade candidate David Price. The outfit hasn’t been connected to Hyun-Jin Ryu, the other major remaining southpaw starting pitcher, but perhaps he can’t be ruled out.
There are surely barriers here, beginning with the widespread interest these pitchers — Bumgarner, especially — have garnered. The rotation market has been buzzing with activity all winter long and several teams are still in obvious need of new arms.
The Padres entered the winter with questions about how much more they could spend, given the team’s already hefty commitments to Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, and Wil Myers. The club already made a big outlay for Drew Pomeranz. GM A.J. Preller has reportedly endeavored to deal Myers (and as much of his salary as possible), but hasn’t yet found a match.
It’s arguable that the San Diego organization isn’t in desperate need of adding a rotation piece. Having picked up Zach Davies in a trade, the team has a solid-looking five-man unit on hand that mixes stability and upside. You can never have enough depth, and it’d be awfully nice to add a higher-end veteran on the staff, but it would also be difficult to move any of the team’s top five rotation candidates to the bullpen or Triple-A. In the event of a signing, it’d be fair to wonder whether the club might plan to spin another pitcher off to address another need.