Even after adding Xander Bogaerts to an eleven-year, $280MM deal, the Padres are looking for more, and Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports they’re keen to bring in a starting pitcher and a corner bat.
The Padres have been busy this winter, signing Bogaerts and getting deep in the markets of Aaron Judge and Trea Turner before they signed elsewhere. They have seen starters Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea depart in free agency (although Manaea is still available), while they weakened their depth a bit by dealing MacKenzie Gore to Washington in the Juan Soto trade, so it makes plenty of sense that they’ll now focus on bolstering their rotation.
Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell are currently lined up in San Diego’s rotation, while the re-signed Nick Martinez is expected to start the 2023 season there too (although he wound up in the bullpen after ten starts in 2022). Adrian Morejon is an option as a starter, but he only appeared out of the bullpen last year after returning from Tommy John surgery. There’s every chance the Padres still view him as a starter, but given he has two options remaining it wouldn’t hurt for them to add another starter to give them another option.
The Padres luxury tax payroll is projected at around $254MM now, just shy of the second tier of luxury tax penalties. That’d seem to make it unlikely that they’d pursue someone like Carlos Rodon – the top free agent starter available – but then again, it’d be foolish to rule San Diego out of anything at this point. The Padres did meet with Koudai Senga last month, and were reported to have interest in Seth Lugo as well, but either of those two or options like Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Bassitt could make sense. They could also look to the trade market where someone like Pablo Lopez could be available, but having pulled off some big trades in recent years they may be reluctant to part with more prospects.
A corner bat seems like less of a need for the Padres. It’s not entirely clear how the team will align defensively after bringing in Bogaerts, but there seems a good chance that Fernando Tatis Jr. (when he returns from suspension) and Soto handle the outfield corners, and Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth take the infield spots, especially after AJ Preller said (via The Athletic) Bogaerts would at least begin as their everyday shortstop. Tatis will return in late-April so they won’t be without him long, but the team may want to rotate some of their starters through the DH spot and so a utility-type free agent addition could make some sense there.