The Padres are in the market for starting pitching. Free agency is always a slippery slope, because teams often overpay for mediocre players. Number four starters get paid $10 million a year and when you are on a budget, like the Padres, it is simply a luxury you cannot afford.
The Rays have a surplus of pitching and have holes all over their everyday lineup. It seems to me that the Padres and the Rays matchup well as potential trade partners. The object of my affection is Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.
Hellickson, the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year, is just 25 and is not arbitration-eligible until 2014. He is young, good and cheap. Hellickson also will not come cheaply.
In parts of three seasons, Hellickson has a career 3.06 ERA in the vaunted AL East. If the Rays were to trade him, they would demand several players that could step into their lineup and produce. When I explored the Rays lineup, they have holes at first and the middle infield. The Padres could offer up some intriguing players to be packaged. Here are a few I would add in a trade:
Logan Forsythe: I LOVE Logan, but he would be an attractive trade chip. He could play second in Tampa, or perhaps play third if Evan Longoria goes down with an injury. He is scrappy and has great on-base skills. A player I would hate to give up, but young talent does not come cheaply.
Yonder Alonso: The Rays do not have a long-term solution at first and Alonso could fill a whole for them. I like Yonder but I do not feel like he will ever be anything more than an above-average regular. He is not a game-changer. The Padres could pursue a veteran on the cheap, like Carlos Pena, or an internal option like Nathan Freiman or Matt Clark. Alonso would not be a dealbreaker in my mind.
Rymer Liriano: I have seen a little bit of Liriano and he looks like the real-deal. It seems like the power in his bat is starting to emerge and he could potentially be the Padres right fielder in 2014. With that being said, you cannot expect the Rays to give away a proven commodity without getting a bundle of talent in return.
The Padres have a deep farm system and acquiring Hellickson would be much more than a rental. He would also give them a capable arm at the top of the rotation.