'Tis the season to be jolly, and with the annual Winter Meetings set to start on Dec. 3rd in Nashville, Tennessee, we'll find out soon just how jolly the San Diego Padres are feeling. What exactly is on their shopping list? Do they have their sights set on any particular player? Are they ready to go after any big-name free agents, or will they stick to the trade route?
Here is what we know so far. Earlier this year, after the sale of the Padres to a new ownership group led by Ron Fowler, Fowler was interviewed by Padres' TV announcer Dick Enberg. Enberg asked if there was "money in the coffers" to go after free agents, to which Fowler responded in the affirmative.
Sounds good, right? Now fast-forward to a few days ago, and Padres' GM Josh Byrnes commenting:
"We have focused most of our energy on starting pitching … with more of our energy on trades than free agency," Byrnes said. "Now we have to bide our time and find the ones who fit."
"…more of our energy on trades than free agency" doesn't give us a whole lot of reason to start jumping up and down at the prospect of our Padres reeling in a Big Catch. Then again, perhaps Byrnes is purposely being vague, not wanting to tip his hand.
All indications are that all the Padres want for Christmas is one or two starting pitchers. How about this guy? Any chance they will shock us out of our Christmas stockings and haul in free agent Kyle Lohse? C'mon Padres, think of it as a Christmas present to your beloved, faithful fans–especially those of us who would love to see you win a World Series before we die. Lohse went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 2012 with the St. Louis Cardinals, and has declined their one year, $13.3 million offer. That gives us an idea of how pricey it would be to ink Lohse to a multi-year contract. Signing Lohse would probably be San Diego's biggest free agent pitcher acquisition since landing Kevin Brown after the 1997 season. You might recall how that worked out–Brown went 18-7 for the Padres in '98, was second in the NL in strikeouts, and led them to the World Series.
How about the Angels' Zack Greinke or Detroit's Anibal Sanchez? Would either come on board for a little less damage to the billfold than Lohse? Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner with the Kansas City Royals, was a combined 15-5, 3.48 in 2012 with the Brewers and Angels. Sanchez was an unspectacular 9-13, 3.86 with Miami and Detroit, but sparkled in the postseason, going 1-2 with a 1.77 ERA in three quality starts.
If the Padres are unwilling or unable to land any of the Big Three, here is an ace in the hole: ex-Padre Mike Adams. San Diego hasn't expressed any intention of going after a reliever, but Adams would undoubtedly fit right back into his eighth inning specialist role that he held with the Padres in 2010 and half of 2011. In 2010, he had a stellar 1.76 ERA and was second in the NL with 37 holds. The first half of 2011, he was 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA before he was shipped off to Texas. Anyone remember why? I don't either, but it would be great to see him in a Padres uniform again.
Daisuke Matsuzaka? With starters Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland slated to return about mid-season, it's hard to see how he is needed. The Padres are much better off pursuing higher level performers than someone who is a fourth or fifth starter, and a big question mark at that.
'Tis the season to be jolly, and here's to wishing that the Padres' front office decks the mound at Petco Park with some awesome arms.