With Mike Clevinger set to miss the 2021 season, the San Diego Padres might be in the market for a starting pitcher.
The San Diego Union-Tribune's Kevin Acee reported the Padres "have let the agent for Trevor Bauer know they'd like to be kept apprised as his market evolves." The front office has also weighed what kind of offer would make the Tampa Bay Rays part with Blake Snell.
The franchise has MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino coming through the pipeline, with the latter getting 17.1 major league innings under his belt in 2020. Prospects don't always pan out, though.
The need to strengthen the starting rotation became more acute with the news that Clevinger required Tommy John surgery.
Last week, The Athletic's Dennis Lin downplayed the likelihood of Bauer landing with San Diego:
"Bauer, the 2020 National League Cy Young winner, is in line to land a contract with an annual average value in the neighborhood of $30 million. Including estimated salaries for pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players, the Padres have roughly $120 million committed toward next season. Even if the opening-day payroll is, say, $140 million, fitting Bauer's salary — and addressing other roster deficiencies — would be a clear challenge."
There's also the question of whether the 29-year-old right-hander can match a season in which he set personal bests in strikeout rate (12.3 per nine innings) and walk rate (2.1) while posting a 2.88 FIP, per FanGraphs. His performance was so much of an outlier relative to his career that some wondered if he was doctoring the ball.
Snell might be the easier target for the Padres to acquire.
MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported Nov. 24 that the Rays "have told other clubs that they're open to the idea" of moving Snell. The 27-year-old southpaw would likely command a steep price since he's a Cy Young Award winner signed for three more seasons.
San Diego has a solid farm system, and the presence of Fernando Tatis Jr. could make 20-year-old shortstop CJ Abrams expendable if an established MLB star is coming to Southern California.