SAN DIEGO -- Tyson Ross' tenure with the Padres came to an abrupt and thoroughly surprising end on Friday, as the injured right-hander was among six arbitration-eligible players who were not tendered a contract by the club.
Ross, the Padres' best pitcher from 2013-15, had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in October and is now a free agent. The Padres remain interested in bringing back Ross, but now they have to compete with 29 other teams.
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"We've seen him the last few years; he's been one of the better pitchers in the league," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. "He's got a lot of talent. He's a guy that works very hard. He's a leader by example.
"The door is open for us. We let Tyson know that. ... We'll see. He'll get an opportunity now to hear from other clubs and get a sense of what's the best opportunity for him."
Along with Ross, the Padres non-tendered infielders Jose Pirela and Alexi Amarista, catcher Héctor Sánchez and right-handers Jon Edwards and Erik Johnson.
None of the other five moves came as much of a surprise. But the decision to part ways with Ross -- who posted a 3.16 ERA in four seasons with the Padres -- certainly qualifies.
Ross started on Opening Day in 2016, but missed the remainder of the season with an inflamed right shoulder. The 29-year-old right-hander suffered numerous setbacks in his recovery before he was eventually shut down in September. A month later he underwent surgery -- the same operation performed on the Mets' Matt Harvey.
Ross figured to earn around $9 million-10 million in salary arbitration. He was in the final year of his contract, and -- if healthy -- could have been an appetizing chip at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Preller said he actively pursued deals over the past week, but Ross' injury status left too many question marks.
"We had conversations with different clubs and obviously felt like there was not a match there at the end of the day," Preller said. "For us, we looked at the option of tendering him and going through that process -- or potentially non-tendering and bringing him back at a different price point. We felt like that was a better option."
Ross' departure leaves the Padres extremely thin in the rotation, with right-hander Luis Perdomo -- a Rule 5 rookie in 2016 -- as their likely Opening Day starter.
The six non-tenders bring the Padres' 40-man roster to 33 players, giving Preller and Co. flexibility for the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place at next week's Winter Meetings. Beginning Monday, MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the event from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 9 a.m. ET.
Edwards, Pirela and Johnson weren't yet arbitration eligible, meaning the Padres could have kept them for the big league minimum, or close to it. But all three were significant injury concerns, and Johnson has already been ruled out for the '17 campaign after Tommy John surgery.
Amarista, meanwhile, was the longest-tenured Padre. But he struggled in 2016 and was out of options entering '17. He and Sanchez -- who provided some nice catching depth -- are options to return, but on Minor League deals.
"Some of the guys that we made the non-tenders with, we'll explore that here in the next few days and see if there's common ground and if some guys want to stay in the organization on a Minor League deal," Preller said.