The San Diego Padres have made a habit out of acquiring veteran starting pitchers dating back to the 2020 trade deadline. In the time since, general manager A.J. Preller has dealt for Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, and Mike Clevinger. Yet on the heels of a disappointing season, in which castoffs Jake Arrieta and Vincent Velasquez started important games, Preller is reportedly intent on pursuing more rotation reinforcements this winter, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Acee notes that Marcus Stroman's name has already surfaced as a potential target.
Stroman, who will celebrate his 31st birthday next May, is coming off an impressive season with the New York Mets. In 33 starts, he compiled a 3.02 ERA (133 ERA+) and a 3.59 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that players can be tendered a qualifying offer just once in their careers. The Mets extended the offer to Stroman last winter (and he subsequently accepted), meaning that he will not require draft-pick compensation to sign this offseason.
Should the Padres pass or whiff on Stroman, they'll have several other free-agent options to consider. Presuming that Max Scherzer and Kevin Gausman prove to be outside of the Padres' price range, they could weigh runs at Alex Cobb, Jon Gray, and Corey Kluber, among others.
Barring a surprise trade, the Padres will return Darvish, Snell, Musgrove, and Clevinger, who missed the season because of Tommy John surgery. They also have internal rotation candidates like Ryan Weathers and Dinelson Lamet to deploy as they see fit (though both seem like better fits in the bullpen for various reasons).
One consideration that should not be overlooked with the Padres is their payroll situation. League sources told CBS Sports the Padres were open to attaching a top prospect to move first baseman Eric Hosmer's contract at the deadline. It seems plausible the Padres rekindle their efforts to move money this offseason, either before or after they make a commitment to a free agent or trade acquisition.
At present, the Padres are projected to have a payroll exceeding $150 million -- a number that's sure to ascend with arbitration raises and outside additions. For reference, San Diego currently has a payroll around $174 million, per Cot's Contracts.