Mike Clevinger is battling soreness in his right knee and is expected to begin the season on the 10-day injured list, Padres manager Bob Melvin told reporters (including Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune). Clevinger has made only one appearance this spring, and lasted only 1 2/3 innings.
The IL placement “allows us to kind of smooth things out and slow it down some,” Melvin said. “We don’t feel like it’s a significant thing, but it actually might be a little bit of a blessing because it did feel like we were kind of rushing him a little bit.”
It has already been a lengthy absence from a big league mound for Clevinger, who underwent Tommy John surgery in November 2020 and subsequently missed all of last season. The Padres were already planning to ease him back into action on limited innings, pairing Clevinger with another pitcher in piggyback fashion. It seems likely that the team might still pursue this strategy when Clevinger does return, though the extra recovery time could allow Clevinger to start a bit deeper into games.
San Diego has enough of a pitching surplus to withstand Clevinger’s absence, particularly after Sean Manaea was acquired from the A’s earlier today. However, rumors continue to swirl about the possibility that the Friars could trade from their pitching depth to facilitate another deal, and the Padres reportedly came close on a four-player swap with the Mets yesterday that would’ve seen Eric Hosmer, Chris Paddack, and Emilio Pagan all sent to New York for Dominic Smith.
That trade would’ve been largely about getting luxury tax relief from Hosmer’s contract, though the Padres have also pursued other big-ticket moves to add talent. San Diego has long been rumored to have interest in the Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds, and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Padres offered two arms in Paddack and Ryan Weathers in exchange for the All-Star outfielder. That wasn’t enough for the Pirates, as talks were scuttled when Pittsburgh additionally wanted top prospect C.J. Abrams added to the trade package.
While Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller has been willing to deal notable prospects in the past, he has mostly resisted trading any of the true upper-tier names from his farm system. As a consensus top-15 prospect in baseball, Abrams fits that billing, even coming off an injury-shortened 2021 season. The Pirates are known to be seeking a major return in exchange for Reynolds, so while Abrams is a justifiable ask for a player of Reynolds’ proven ability, it remains to be seen if the Padres (or any team) would be willing to trade away a blue-chip minor league talent.
In fact, the door remains open on Abrams contributing to the Padres’ own big league roster as early as Opening Day. Abrams has been hitting well this spring, and with Fernando Tatis Jr. set to miss as much as the first three months of the season, there is a vacancy at Abrams’ natural shortstop position. Abrams has also been playing at second base, and Melvin has suggested that he could get some reps in the outfield as well, acting as some center field depth behind Trent Grisham.
It would be an aggressive promotion considering that Abrams has only played 42 games of Double-A ball, and has never played at Triple-A. That said, the Padres didn’t shy away from putting Tatis on their Opening Day roster in 2019, and that was even before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement introduced the “Prospect Promotion Incentive,” which allows teams to potentially gain an extra draft pick if a top prospect spends an entire season on the active roster and has a high finish in awards balloting.
Returning to the pitching rumor mill, Paddack drew some attention from New York’s other team last month, when the Yankees and Padres were discussing Luke Voit in trade talks. SNY’s Andy Martino reports that the Yankees initially wanted Paddack in return for Voit, before finally settling on a less-experienced hurler in prospect Justin Lange.