Surprise, Ares. – For Padres, as you may have noticed, they have an abundance of starting to promote. They did so before they traded with Sean Manaea on Sunday. They do more than that now.
So what happens with all this starting to promote?
There is one school of thought that says that Padres simply kept it. There will be enough turns to go around. They learned last season the hard way that shooting depth is often fragile.
But the Padres seem to have more MLB-caliber starters than places in their starting spin. As such, they have become involved with other clubs about the possibility of dealing from within this rotation depth.
“It’s an area that’s been bombed over the past few weeks and we’re still getting hit,” said Padres, chief of baseball operations AG Briller. “Anytime you build a deep position, you expect to have conversations with other teams about it, and we’ve done that. But … having a lot of initial offers for a 162-game season, that’s always important.”
Just last week, the Padres and Mets discussed a deal that would send Chris Baddack to New York. Briller, in terms of politics, does not comment on rumors and deals that do not come to fruition. But it seems clear that he is willing to listen when the rival teams call.
On Monday, head coach Bob Melvin revealed the first three starters in his rotation – Yu Darvish, Manaya and Joe Musgrove, in that order. Beyond these three, rotation is equal parts talent and uncertainty.
Mike Clevenger is expected to open the season on the injured roster as he makes his way back from Tommy John’s 2020 surgery. Clevenger experienced some pain in his right knee while going up, and Padres decided to pump the brakes. Another reminder: It pays to have that depth.
With Clevinger and Ryan Weathers out after being selected in Triple-A El Paso, Padres have four options to start in the bottom two. Presumably, one of those locations will go to Blake Snell, whose backlog has been slow this spring. He will begin Tuesday’s Cactus League final against the White Sox, with an expectation that he will present three rounds.
This leaves Padres with a bit of a snag behind Snell. Do they carry a sixth starter, perhaps a Paddack, to the Snell on the back on their first ride through the spin? Adding a blocker, which is configured on a full starter load basis, may reduce the likelihood of this happening.
“With Blake, it just depends,” Melvin said. “Banning helps in the fact that you probably don’t have to. Depending on how many sedatives we’re carrying, is he a man with two legs instead of a slicker on the back?”
“All of these things, we’re still thinking about. I wish I had more clarity. But some of these moves will come down to the last day. And who knows, maybe there’s the potential for some moves, some trades.”
In fact, there are a lot of moving pieces. Padres can still use another bat. They are also interested in moving Eric Hosmer’s contract to create payroll flexibility. Depth of starting can help achieve these goals.
But if they enter the season with a whole bunch of really good shooters, they look good at it too. The final place in the rotation may be a three-dimensional decision between Nick Martinez, Baddack and Mackenzie Gore.
But realistically, Martinez is the very strong candidate. “Very good chance; we signed him for a reason,” Melvin said after Martinez’s last spring start.
Martinez delivered five solid runs in Padres’ 11-5 victory over Texas on Monday afternoon. Having spent the past four years dominating Japan, Martinez has been tested with some tough big league formations this spring. It was no accident.
“Find out what works, find out what doesn’t,” said Martinez, who finished with a 3.00 ERA and 0.92 WHIP this spring. “It’s good to confront these guys, face the guys who can do harm, and make adjustments from there.”
If Martinez is around, Gore should have left the season opener in Triple-A, although he was stellar this spring as well. Prior to the Mannai trade, the team’s decision makers had seriously considered recalling Gore. Meanwhile, Paddack is on the sidelines, possibly pegging to this role on the back. Then, there’s Clevinger, who could be back later this month, and Adrian Morjon, who could be back mid-season, giving San Diego a 10-deep spinning mix.
That’s a tremendous amount of rotation depth. It remains to be seen if Padres chooses to trade from it or simply use it.