Padres get Rogers to close, send Paddack to Twins

Pagán, PTBNL also headed to Minnesota; SD return includes former top prospect Rooker, cash

April 8th, 2022

PHOENIX -- Mere hours before their season was slated to begin, the Padres shook up their pitching staff in a big way on Thursday morning.

San Diego landed left-hander Taylor Rogers from Minnesota, bolstering its bullpen. The Padres also received outfielder Brent Rooker and cash considerations while sending right-handers , and a player to be named to Minnesota in return.

Padres get: LHP Taylor Rogers, OF Brent Rooker, cash considerations
Twins get: RHP Chris Paddack, RHP Emilio Pagán, player to be named

Rogers will slot into the closer role with San Diego, manager Bob Melvin said before the opener in Arizona. Before the deal, the Padres seemed set to open the season with a deep bullpen but no obvious closer. Rogers also balances the relief corps, as San Diego was slated to open the season with only one lefty -- Tim Hill -- on its Opening Day roster.

“He’s a left-handed guy that has a chance to pitch at the back end of a game,” Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller said of Rogers. “I just think it complements the group that we have back there. We felt like we had a lot of guys that we liked internally. But we were probably still looking from the outside for an arm, especially left-handed. We were able to add Rogers.”

Set to become a free agent after the season, the 31-year-old Rogers owns a 3.15 ERA across six years with Minnesota. He has posted a sub-3 FIP in each of his past four seasons and has racked up 50 career saves. His presence at the back end moves rookie right-hander Robert Suarez, once presumed to be the top choice at closer, into a setup role.

More than anything, Rogers solidifies the back end of an already talented bullpen. In front of Suarez and Rogers, the Padres expect Hill, Pierce Johnson, Craig Stammen and perhaps Dinelson Lamet to cover high-leverage innings.

“It’s going to be pretty fluid as far as how the bullpen’s deployed,” Melvin said. “There’s going to be some trial and error, probably. We’ve got a lot of new guys here.”

As for Paddack, the Padres didn't have much room in their starting rotation with the acquisition of Sean Manaea. Paddack posted a 4.21 ERA in three seasons with the Padres, though he showed some signs of serious upside. His rookie 2019 season is one of the best rookie seasons for a pitcher in franchise history.

But Paddack was wildly inconsistent in 2020 and ’21, and he became expendable as the Padres revamped their rotation -- trading for Manaea, signing Nick Martinez and welcoming Mike Clevinger back into the fray. Clevinger will open the season on the injured list, as he builds slowly back from 2020 Tommy John surgery, but the Padres still open the year with a full rotation:

  1. Yu Darvish
  2. Sean Manaea
  3. Joe Musgrove
  4. Blake Snell
  5. Nick Martinez

“A lot of the moves in the past few weeks, the past few months, gave us some excess starting pitching,” Preller said. “And Chris was a name that I’d probably say 15 teams checked in on throughout the course of Spring Training. Ultimately, I just saw an area that we had some strength in on the starting side, and we had an opportunity to add to the bullpen and get a bat in Brent Rooker that we like. But we think the world of Chris.”

It’s fair to classify the trade as a win-now move for the Padres. Paddack had three years remaining before reaching free agency, and Pagán, who owns a 3.73 ERA across parts of five years, had two. Meanwhile, Rogers fills an immediate need but is under contract for this season only.

The Padres' projected rotation is now notably thin in 2023, with Musgrove, Manaea, Martinez and Clevinger all able to reach free agency. (Martinez has a player option in his deal.) To that end, the Padres are hoping for a breakthrough from top pitching prospect MacKenzie Gore at some point this season. Gore’s solid spring gave the Padres enough pitching depth to feel comfortable parting with Paddack.

The longer-term portion of the deal, for San Diego, is the acquisition of Rooker. He has appeared in just 65 big league games with a .713 OPS. Question marks linger about his high strikeout rate and his defense. But the 27-year-old has slugged at just about every level.

All along, it seemed possible that the Padres would deal from their rotation depth in an effort to address their most glaring areas of need -- their bullpen and their outfield mix. Turns out, Preller would wait until the last minute to do so. And he might not be done, either.

“It’s never a finished product on Opening Day,” Preller said. “It’s always exciting to get started, Opening Day. We like our group. We like our team. But we’re always going to be looking to get better.”