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Padres singular need: Starting pitching

No, this isn’t news.

A month ago, when the Padres were still in the thick of the National League West race, they were looking for starting pitching to bolster their rotation.

Now, even after tumbling out of the race due to a bad month of July, the Padres still need starting pitching — not so much for the rest of 2013 but for 2014 and beyond.

It’s a strong possibility that the trio of Jason Marquis (Tommy John surgery), Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez won’t return in 2014.

That leaves Andrew Cashner, Eric Stults and Tyson Ross as the leading candidates for starting jobs in 2014. Go ahead and add two players coming off Tommy John surgery, Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland, to that mix as well.

The Padres know they need to add starting pitching between now and the start of Spring Training and they have a few interesting pieces they could sell high on, no more so than reliever Luke Gregerson.

Going into Saturday’s game against the D-backs, the Padres had a starting pitcher go seven or more innings just 20 times in the first 104 games of the season.

The Padres would love to add a pitcher that they can control through 2014 (and, if possible, beyond).

Their best chance to do so could come between now and Wednesday’s deadline. If not, they’ll try to strike a deal in the off-season.

Either way, the team will add starting pitching. It’s just a matter of when.

— Corey Brock

Padres: “Different conversations …”

A month ago, Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said the team was “very aggressive in kicking the tires” on several potential additions for a team that not long ago was two games above .500 and one game out of first place in the National League West.

But today, as the Padres prepare to start the second half with the first of 10 games on the road, Byrnes has been singing a different tune with teams.

“Different conversations,” Byrnes said last week.

Translation: The Padres are no longer buyers but are more so sellers (in reality, everyone is a seller to some degree, but that’s a different post).

The Padres, who were always hoping to find additions to their pitching staff, have always had their sight set on players they could control beyond 2013. The part about being high on adding a ‘rental’ player? That likely was never going to happen.

So if the team is selling, who is on the block? Just about everyone, likely. Chase Headley is and will continue to get hits from other teams. He’s not going anywhere. Same for second baseman Jedd Gyorko.

The Padres would still like to add pitching but would have to dip into their Minor League system to do so. Edinson Volquez isn’t drawing much attention. Someone like Kyle Blanks or Jesus Guzman might, but you’d likely have to package one of them with a prospect to get anything substantial in return.

— Corey Brock


Buyers … no more?

It wasn’t all that long ago when the Padres were 36-34 and just one game back in the NL West.

They were going to add pitching, likely a starter, to bolster their rotation. They were ready to part with prospects to do so.

Well, not anymore — not they way they’ve played of late.

The Padres entered Tuesday’s game against the Rockies on a 10-game losing skid.

“It has changed,” said Padres general manager Josh Byrnes. “We were very aggressive in kicking the tires. The prices we heard were very high.”

Now that the team has drifted back in the NL West, there’s no sense in swinging a deal unless the team shows it can perform better.

“Now, we need to climb back in it,” Byrnes said.

The team wasn’t really in on Ricky Nolasco and the cost the Cubs are seeking for Matt Garza, at this point of the month at least, is considered very high.

— Corey Brock


No Arrieta, so now what?

The Padres continue to pursue pitching, though one target they’ve liked for a long time — Jake Arrieta — is likely off the table now that he’s been traded from the Orioles to the Cubs.

The Padres have liked Arrieta since last season and have had discussions with the Orioles since the Winter Meetings about obtaining the right-hander, who many figure will benefit from a chance of scenery.

So unless the Cubs have plans to flip Arrieta to the Padres, San Diego general manager Josh Byrnes will continue to look for pitching to aid the starting rotation.

There’s still plenty of time, of course, before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline but there’s a sense that business could pick-up for teams now that the first chips have been exchanged in the Cubs-Orioles deal on Tuesday.

— Corey Brock

Pitching? Yes. But at what cost?

Like (seemingly) everyone else, the Padres are pursuing starting pitching help to aid their starting rotation.

Sounds simple enough, right?

It’s not, for several reasons. Finding the right trading partner is one thing, agreeing on a package of prospects — the players the Padres would part with to get an arm to solidify their rotation – will be the hard part.

The Padres have gone to great lengths to build their farm system from one that was largely devoid of talent to one filled with good players — not great or marquee players, mind you — but players who can help them in the future.

The Padres, in a perfect world, would like to add a pitcher they could have control over beyond 2013, a pitcher who could be a part of the starting rotation moving forward.

This doesn’t mean the Padres are opposed to a rental, but if they’re going to part with good prospects, they’ll need a controllable arm in return.

“As with most teams, we’re not going to be totally short-term focused,” said Padres general manager Josh Byrnes. “We still have to balance the short term and long term. Giving up prospects is a big deal to us and getting a player back who might only be here half the year … we’ve got to balance all of that out.”

One pitcher who could hold value to a rebuilding team is 22-year-old right-handed pitcher Keyvius Sampson. Sampson’s value has never been higher, as he’s allowed one run in his last 14 innings on four hits with 22 strikeouts for Double-A San Antonio.

Outfielder Reymond Fuentes, also 22, could be a player the Padres opt to move — alone or in a package — to get an arm. Fuentes is hitting .332 at San Antonio. He’s got a .419 on-base percentage and 23 steals.

These two alone might not get you the arm you need. Together? It’s a start.

Stay tuned. It could be an interesting month for the Padres.

— Corey Brock

Padres in need of starting pitching

Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said Monday that the team can’t afford to take a flyer on a health-risk in its pursuit of landing two starting pitchers to bolster the rotation for 2013.

The Padres have few glaring holes to attend to this winter, though the rotation is a big one the team will seek to address before the start of Spring Training.

The Padres had only two starters — Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez — make 16 or more starts in 2012, as the rotation was ravaged by injuries to several key pitchers. Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland each had Tommy John surgery last season and won’t return until mid-2013 at the earliest.

So the Padres singular focus is starting pitching and are open to trades or free agency to tend to this need. Byrnes said Monday the team has had more talks on the trade front.

“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.”

The Padres are looking for innings-eaters and pitchers like Joe Blanton and Shaun Marcum could be at or near the top of their wish list.

— Corey Brock

Padres ‘focused on conversations that make sense for us’ …

On Friday, Padres general manager Josh Byrnes huddled with several front office types — with professional scouts on a conference call as well — to ‘compare notes’ as Byrnes put it, as the team ramps up for what could be a busy time leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.

Or, of course, it could be pretty quiet as well.

“I don’t think we’ll be quiet as busy as everyone thinks,” Byrnes said.

That said, the Padres hold what might be one of the more interesting trade pieces in third baseman Chase Headley, a player they won’t part with unless the return haul is satisfactory — and, by all accounts, pretty steep.

Most of the conversations Byrnes has had to date involves Headley.

“For the last several weeks, we’ve been pretty busy spending time on it,” Byrnes said. “… But at the same time, we’re focused on the four or five conversations with clubs that makes the most sense for us.”

The Padres have taken outfielder Carlos Quentin off the trade market by signing him to an extension. There seems to be momentum that the team will do the same with closer Huston Street.

If the Padres don’t deal Headley, they could part with reliever Luke Gregerson in a deal. If they don’t, then it could end up being a quiet weekend as Byrnes predicted.

— Corey Brock

Padres extend Quentin, could do same for Street

So go ahead and scratch outfielder Carlos Quentin off your list of viable/available options that could be had before the July 31 trade deadline.

The Padres on Sunday gave Quentin a three-year extension worth $27 million that will keep him in his native San Diego through the 2015 and possibly through 2016 (mutual option).

There seems to be momentum internally that the Padres could do the same with closer Huston Street, the Padres lone All-Star representative, giving him a contract extension as well as the team looks toward 2013 and beyond.

It’s worth noting that majority owner John Moores and the new ownership group (O’Malley family, though nothing has been officially announced) signed off on the Quentin deal. Could they do the same for Street?

General manager Josh Byrnes continues to field calls about players, no more so than third baseman Chase Headley, who is about as coveted a player as you’ll find this month. If the Padres aren’t blown away from a haul of players, they’ll likely retain Headley, who is under team control through 2015.

Is any of this surprising, that the Padres haven’t sold off any significant pieces? Not at all, as Byrnes said earlier this month that the team didn’t need to trade anyone.

The Padres, who have made noise in the past at or near the trade deadline — see Jake Peavy, Heath Bell — might just stand pat this month.

— Corey Brock

Not so fast on those Padres players …

The Padres enter the All-Star break with a 34-53 record, which has them 13 games out of first place in the National League West.

So that means they’ll be sellers at or before the July 31 trade deadline, right?

Not so fast.

While the Padres certainly have some interesting pieces they could move — and, as you might expect, they’re getting plenty of hits on third baseman Chase Headley — general manager Josh Byrnes might not be inclined to make many deals if any at all.

Why? Because the Padres like Headley just like they like outfielder Carlos Quentin, closer Huston Street as well as starting pitchers Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez.

The popular thought is a team would have to blow the Padres away for them to part with Headley, who is still under team control for two more years, is durable, a good defender and a switch-hitter.

Quentin, the San Diego native, has struggled in July after a torrid start. He could be a nice piece for a team looking for a right-handed bat with pop.

Street, the Padres lone All-Star representative, has converted all 13 of his save opportunities and might make the most sense to move in a deal.

Richard and Volquez? They’re under team control through 2013 (or 2014 in Richard’s case) and they have  been durable. In a strange season that has seen the Padres make 19 disabled list moves and with seven — yes, seven, starting pitchers currently on the disabled list, it doesn’t make sense to move them.

Hey, it could be an interesting few weeks for the Padres, who are playing better — 15-13 over their last 28 games. Or it could be downright quiet.

Stay tuned.

Corey Brock,

@FollowThePadres on Twitter

Padres nearly done with roster construction

Few general managers have been as busy this offseason as Padres GM Josh Byrnes, who on Saturday pulled off his sixth trade of the winter when he traded for White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin.

With that trade, the Padres are already close to being a finished product — well before heading to Arizona for the start of Spring Training next month.

“We’re getting close,” Byrnes said on Tuesday.

The Padres could still add a late-inning reliever and have to decide if they’re going to hang onto first base prospect Anthony Rizzo or move him before Spring Training.

In their deal with the Reds last month and pitcher Mat Latos, the Padres acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso, who will get first crack at winning the first base job.

— Corey Brock