- Before Alex Cobb signed with the Orioles, “the Padres got involved late on” the free agent righty’s market. It would’ve been another eye-popping move for a team that surprised many by signing Eric Hosmer, though the Padres could’ve simply been doing some due diligence — Cobb likely drew interest from several seemingly-unlikely teams as he continued to languish on the open market. The Padres also had at least some interest in Jake Arrieta, another big-name free agent starter who was still unexpectedly available into March. Given A.J. Preller’s penchant for aggressive moves and the Padres’ prospect depth, I wouldn’t be surprised if San Diego made a big in-season trade to further kickstart its rebuilding process.
Padres outfielder Alex Dickerson will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a sprained UCL in his throwing elbow, The Athletic’s Dennis Lin reports (Twitter link). Dickerson had been considering non-surgical options but instead he’ll go under the knife near the end of March, and be sidelined for the entire 2018 season.
Dickerson, 27, made a good impression as a rookie in 2016, hitting .257/.333/.455 with 10 homers over 285 plate appearances for San Diego. He hasn’t played a big league game since, however, as back problems and eventual surgery sidelined him for all of 2017. Dickerson was already facing a tough path to a 25-man roster spot due to the Padres’ crowded left field situation, and now he’ll lose another year of his career due to the Tommy John procedure.
A third-round pick for the Pirates in the 2011 draft, Dickerson came to the Padres in November 2013 in a trade for Jaff Decker and Miles Mikolas. Dickerson has posted very strong minor league numbers, with a career .309/.367/.501 slash line over 2138 PA down on the farm. Baseball America ranked him as San Diego’s 22nd-best prospect prior to the 2016 season.
- The Padres have released reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, whom they signed to a minor league contract last month. Before the Padres parted with him, Wilhelmsen tossed four innings of four-run ball during the exhibition season. Wilhelmsen was highly successful as a Mariner from 2011-15, a stretch in which he was their closer at times, but the right-hander has seen his career go off the rails since then. The 34-year-old combined for 72 2/3 innings of 5.94 ERA ball and posted 5.57 K/9 against 3.84 BB/9, with a strong 50.4 percent groundball rate, from 2016-17 as a member of the Mariners, Rangers and Diamondbacks.
- The Padres are no longer considering Jordan Lyles for their rotation, MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell tweets. The veteran righty could still earn a pen slot; given that the Padres promised him $1MM for the season in a deal that includes a 2019 option, it would seem they expected to carry him on the roster in some capacity. But the 27-year-old has been roughed up this spring and in his recent MLB seasons. By Cassavell’s reckoning, also via Twitter, that leaves the battle for the club’s final two starting jobs to veterans Tyson Ross and Chris Young along with younger hurlers Luis Perdomo and Robbie Erlin.
- Padres skipper Andy Green tells the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee that right-hander Adam Cimber has pitched his way into consideration for a spot in the team’s Opening Day bullpen. Cimber, 27, spent Spring Training 2017 in minor league camp and by Green’s own admission wasn’t near the top of the team’s list headed into big league camp this year. A sidearming righty, Cimber has hurled six shutout innings with two hits, no walks and five strikeouts. Recently, he’s been facing high-profile hitters such as Edwin Encarnacion, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras and still finding success, Acee notes. The opportunity before him isn’t lost on the former ninth-rounder, who signed for a $5K bonus in 2013. Cimber discusses the opportunity to finally earn a big league salary playing the game he loves, as well as some of the ups and downs that come with being a minor league relief prospect.
- Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune highlights the ongoing competition for the Padres’ starting second base job, which is currently down to Carlos Asuaje and Cory Spangenberg. Both have been impressive this spring, OPSing north of .900 in their small samples of work, but as Acee notes, there may only be room for one of them to make the roster. (Both have two minor league options remaining.) However, he does note that manager Andy Green’s tone on the matter has changed somewhat. After once characterizing the competition as an either-or scenario, Green took a softer stance Tuesday. “We’re not set in stone how we’re going to put the roster together all the way across,” said Green. “It’s going to be tough the way we’re currently constructed to carry both of them, but it’s not an impossibility.” The winner of the competition won’t have any time to get comfortable, though; as Acee notes, prospect Luis Urias is also looming and could debut early in the 2018 campaign as well.
One of the offseason’s major free agents finally came off the board today, as Jake Arrieta agreed to a three-year, $75MM contract with the Phillies that will become official once the right-hander passes a physical. Here is some of the early reaction to the deal…
- “For the Phillies, this was as close to a no-brainer as $25 million per season gets,” David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes. Murphy argues that the Phillies were simply in such dire need for starting pitching that a quality arm like Arrieta was too good to pass up, even at a significant price for a still-rebuilding team. Though Arrieta’s performance dipped in 2017, Murphy notes that even Arrieta’s down year still more or less equaled Aaron Nola’s numbers, so “in essence, the Phillies will have added another Nola even if Arrieta’s 2017 is his new normal.” Even if Arrieta declines further, the three-year length of the deal means that he won’t be much of a long-term burden on the Phils’ spending abilities.
- The threat of such a decline, however, makes this signing “a strange one” for the Phillies, in the opinion of ESPN.com’s Keith Law (subscription required). Arrieta’s peripherals and velocity were both down in 2017, and Law wonders if “this is a Tim Lincecum situation where there’s no actual injury but he’s just wearing down after a great peak.” Even if Arrieta stabilizes his performance or regains some of his old form, Law questions the wisdom of a contract that will likely deliver most of its value before the Phillies are truly ready to contend.
- “The Padres had more than passing interest in Jake Arrieta”, Dennis Lin of the Athletic tweets, but the $25MM average annual value of Arrieta’s contract was too high for San Diego’s liking. The club was known to have been at least considering the idea of going after the right-hander, who could’ve joined Eric Hosmer as the second major Scott Boras client to (surprisingly) sign with the Padres this winter. Lin feels the Padres are likely to stick with their current rotation mix rather than add another starting pitcher, though “there are fans of Alex Cobb in the organization.”
- The Nationals had been mentioned as a speculative landing spot for Arrieta for much of the offseason, due to both the Nats’ possible need for another starter and Boras’ well-documented relationship with the Lerner family. As Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com notes, however, “Nats folks insisted from the beginning Boras was trying to make them more interested in Arrieta than they were.” Even if Washington was more likely to engage in Arrieta’s market if the price dropped, it seemingly never got low enough for the Nationals to make a strong bid.
- In other news that’s largely of historical interest, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag provided some notes on the Padres’ offseason efforts. The team was able to land Eric Hosmer after Kansas City was unable to earn ownership authorization for its initially reported, seven-year offer, Heyman reports. That seemingly helps explain why subsequent reports indicated that K.C. never went that high in the bidding. San Diego also “made a big play” for outfielder Christian Yelich before he was shipped from the Marlins to the Brewers, Heyman notes in his leaguewide rundown of information. Notably, the Pads effectively ended up adding an outfielder when they inked Hosmer, thus pushing Wil Myers back onto the grass.
- The Padres have had “internal discussions” about Jake Arrieta, writes FanRag’s Jon Heyman, though he notes that it’s not clear if the team has any interest in actually making an offer. Realistically, there are likely many clubs that aren’t obvious suitors for Arrieta and the remaining top-level free agents that have at least internally kicked around the idea of delving back into the open market with prices bottoming out in recent weeks. Arrieta “has the fortitude to wait things out,” per the report, however. Heyman notes that Padres sources have indicated they’re at least keeping tabs on market prices for several players, which, again, probably holds true for a number of clubs.
- Meanwhile, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune spoke to two agents who represent two of the remaining starters on the market within the past week and was told that the Padres are “looking for pitching.” However, Padres officials emphasized to him that they’re not actively pursuing arms from outside the organization and are focused on the in-house options they have — both at the big league level and looming in one of the game’s best farm systems.
- Padres outfielder Alex Dickerson, who was diagnosed with a sprained UCL recently, could be looking at Tommy John surgery to repair his throwing elbow, tweets Dennis Lin of The Athletic. Dickerson, who missed all of the 2017 season due to back surgery, is still considering a non-surgical rehab program as well, however.