Pitching depth gives GM Preller a strong hand

July 14th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- For the first time in at least half a decade, the Padres have some legitimate Major League rotation depth. Three rookie starting pitchers are presently making an impact in San Diego, with more young arms on the way.

"It's the most upside, from a talent perspective, that we've had in the rotation," said manager Andy Green, currently in his fourth season at the helm.

That rotation depth will shape the Trade Deadline thought process of Padres general manager A.J. Preller. By all accounts, Preller is open to adding a controllable starting pitcher. But he certainly isn't committed to it.

Yes, San Diego is actively looking to improve its rotation, sources said. But there is no sense of urgency to do so, given the long-term potential of the in-house options. If the Padres don't line up on a deal for a starting pitcher, they happily would proceed with what they’ve got.

Already this month, the Friars have been linked to the Mets' and the Tigers' , according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi. Right now, it seems unlikely San Diego makes a push for either arm.

Still, that's precisely the type of player the Padres are searching for -- a controllable piece who could impact the club both this season and well into the future. (That mindset just as readily applies on the position-player market.)

The Padres are sitting pretty right now, because they have options. With one of the sport's deepest farm systems, they have enough prospect capital to acquire a starter. But the rotation seems stable in the long run, even without an addition.

and have made progress in their second big league seasons. Rookie has flashed front-of-the-rotation stuff, while and have made an impact as rookies, as well.

Meanwhile, is back after missing a season and a half following Tommy John surgery. It's possible returns in September. has proven himself a capable starting option, too, even though he's currently being used in a relief role.

"You have to have that depth in the long run," Green said. "Guys aren't going to be able to take the ball 30-plus times a year. It just doesn't happen where everybody can do that. There are always injuries. You have to have seven or eight guys."

When top prospects MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patino arrive in the big leagues, that group will get even deeper. It’s easy to envision one of the league’s top rotations forming in San Diego in 2020 and ’21, exclusively using players already in the organization.

That doesn't mean Preller will stand pat this month. The Padres are lingering on the fringes of the National League Wild Card race, and their performance over the next couple weeks might shape their Deadline mindset.

With the league’s youngest rotation, the Padres have still managed a 4.41 starters ERA this season, which ranks 14th in the Majors. Would they benefit from adding a front-line starter? Absolutely. Do they need one? Their answer is no.

In his search for rotation help, Preller, it seems, is holding all the cards.

Urias injured

Second base prospect was removed from Triple-A El Paso’s game Friday with a sore left shoulder, Green said. Urias, the team's No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, was out of the starting lineup Saturday, but the club is optimistic he'll return to action soon.