The San Diego Padres finished in the NL West cellar in 2019, closing out the year with a disappointing 70-92 record. Despite a lost season, however, the future looks incredibly bright in San Diego, as blue-chip talents like Luis Urias, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado are expected to be franchise cornerstones for the long haul.
However, while the Padres are trending in the right direction, the club will need to be active during free agency this offseason if they want to gain ground on the Los Angeles Dodgers or put themselves in Wild Card contention next year.
With that in mind, here are three free agents San Diego should sign during free agency.
1. Dellin Betances, Relief Pitcher
Dellin Betances made just one appearance (2/3 innings) in 2019 before missing the entire year due to a shoulder injury, but he's long been one of the league's most dominant relief arms. A four-time All-Star, the 31-year-old fireballer has racked up an impressive 36 saves, 117 holds and 609 strikeouts to go along with a 2.21 ERA since 2012 (374 innings pitched). Padres pitching coach Larry Rothschild, who held the same role with the Yankees for the past nine years, could convince Betances to make his way to Southern California, and if signed, would provide the Padres mediocre bullpen (4.52 ERA, No. 19 in MLB) with a massive upgrade and a fearsome late-inning bridge to All-Star closer Kirby Yates.
2. Hunter Pence, Outfield
The Padres have one of the more crowded outfield's in the bigs, but adding another outfielder in Hunter Pence could be a savvy move. Pence had a late-career renaissance with the Texas Rangers in 2019, slashing 297/.358/.552 with 18 homers and 59 RBI in a part-time role (83 games, 316 plate appearances). Padres manager Jayce Tingler, who served as Texas' development coordinator in charge of outfielders and base running in 2018, has a strong connection with the Pence and could be enough to convince the 36-year-old outfielder to sign in San Diego. Tingler would have to get creative in finding playing time for Pence, but bringing him to Southern California would give the club a consistent bench bat, at the very least.
3. Gerrit Cole, Starting Pitcher
The Padres had a middle-of-the-pack rotation (4.66 ERA, No. 18 in MLB) with plenty of upside going forward, but if they want to truly turn themselves into a contender, they'll need a bonafide ace like Gerrit Cole to lead their starting staff. The free-agent fireballer is coming off one of the best pitching seasons in recent memory, going 20-5 with a AL-best 2.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and an MLB-best 326 strikeouts (212 1/3 innings). A Southern California native, it's possible - based on recent rumors - that Cole could sign with a team close to home. The Padres aren't afraid to break the bank for top free agents (see Manny Machado) and if they can find a way to meet Cole's likely-astronomical price tag, doing so would provide their rotation with the frontline starter they need.
Join FanDuel Sportsbook Today. New users get a risk-free bet up to $500. Join Now.
Mike Esposito is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Esposito also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username espo6891. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.