Padres strongly considering keeping Ross, Cashner
Starting pitchers eligible for arbitration; club seeking way to upgrade offense
SAN DIEGO -- While there's certainly no nebulous area in regards to the Padres' biggest offseason need -- offense -- the team might be rethinking the way it goes about addressing it.
Instead of trading starting pitchers Tyson Ross or Andrew Cashner to upgrade the offense, the Padres are giving strong consideration to keeping both arbitration-eligible players, a baseball source told MLB.com.
Ross won 13 games, posted a 2.81 ERA in a career-high 31 starts and made his first All-Star team. As for Cashner, he had a 2.55 ERA in 19 starts, including a shutout over the Phillies in September and a one-hit shutout of the Tigers in April.
The Padres have received plenty of interest in Ross and Cashner, as well as Ian Kennedy, who according to Fox Sports, has been targeted by the Rangers and the Royals.
Kennedy, who won 13 games and topped 200 innings and 200 strikeouts last season, stands to make around $10 million in his final year of arbitration-eligibility.
"I think we view it as an area of strength," Padres general manager A.J. Preller said of the rotation.
In terms of their primary offseason needs, the Padres have been looking at trades and free agents -- both domestic and international -- who could help infuse a moribund offense that ranked last in baseball in several categories a year ago.
"I think this year it's a little bit of a limited group in terms of the free-agent market in terms of offense, but I wouldn't rule out Major League free agents," Preller said.
The team has had early contact with free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval and first baseman Adam LaRoche according to reports, corner infielders with a history of production and who have had success at Petco Park in the past.
LaRoche, a left-handed hitter, has a career .315/.377/.622 line in 143 career at-bats at Petco Park with 14 doubles and 10 home runs in 39 games. He turned 35 earlier this month but is coming off a season where he hit 26 home runs for the Nationals.
Sandoval, who was in Boston on Tuesday visiting the Red Sox, figures to have a long line of suitors -- and a hefty price tag. He's a career .285/.355/.487 hitter with six doubles and 10 home runs in 197 at-bats in 53 career games at Petco Park with the Giants.
The Padres have scouted 24-year-old Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas on several occasions and have also looked at him at third base, Preller said recently. A report recently discounted the Padres' chances, but a source said Wednesday the Padres are still considering Tomas.
But the burning question the Padres' apprehensive fan base wants an answer to is this: When is Preller, hired in August, going to acquire a player?
"Well, [Kwang-Hyun] Kim counts as half, right," Preller joked last week, responding to a question from a reporter who wondered the same.
Last week, the Padres were awarded the highest bid -- believed to be $2 million -- for negotiating rights with the 26-year-old Korean left-hander.
If the Padres are to reach a deal with Kim before the end of the 30-day window to strike a deal (Dec. 11), it won't likely happen before the end of the month. If they can't reach a deal, Kim will return to his club, the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization.
Preller said that if the Padres do sign Kim, he'll be given a chance to start in Spring Training, even though some project him as a better fit in the bullpen.
These moves, of course, figure to be precursors to addressing the team's biggest need(s) of the winter -- finding offensive help for the most anemic offense in baseball a year ago.
Elsewhere, on Thursday, the Padres and all teams must set their 40-man rosters in advance of the Rule 5 Draft next month.
There could be some minor trades between now and the end of the day Thursday as the Padres shuffle players on and off the 40-man roster.
Chances are good the Padres will need to make room for three players -- outfielder Alex Dickerson and pitchers Justin Hancock and Tayron Guerrero.
Players who are likely on the 40-man bubble include infielders Gabriel Quintana and Taylor Lindsey, and pitchers John Barbato, James Needy, Adys Portillo, Chris Rearick, Jerry Sullivan and Luis De La Cruz.