Busy offseason reshapes Padres' pitching staff
GM Byrnes likes depth, quality of hurlers after major roster shuffling
SAN DIEGO -- For someone who never says never, Padres general manager Josh Byrnes sounded almost resolute Wednesday when asked if the organization was done making changes to the 40-man roster.
"This could be the group we go to Spring Training with," Byrnes said.
Yes, there is still time to make additions -- and subtractions -- to the roster before pitchers and catchers report to Arizona on Feb. 13, though after an eventful winter, it would be understandable if the Padres were finished shaping the roster they'll take into the regular season.
All told, the Padres have added 10 players through trade or free agency this winter. Sixteen players who were in the organization a year ago are gone, including 11 who appeared in the big leagues last season with the Padres.
In a sense, this qualifies as a stunning upheaval of the roster, especially in terms of pitching, where 11 pitchers who were with the organization at the end of the season will play elsewhere in 2014.
A look at the moves involving pitchers:
The Padres outrighted Tommy Layne from the roster in October and designated Colt Hynes for assignment. Hynes was later traded to the Indians for cash. The team traded Brad Brach to the Orioles for a Minor League pitcher, Devin Jones.
Miles Mikolas was dealt to the Pirates as part of the deal that landed outfielder Alex Dickerson. Jose De Paula was designated for assignment, and Luke Gregerson was traded to the A's to get outfielder Seth Smith. Anthony Bass was dealt to the Astros for a player to be named.
Then on Wednesday, the Padres traded five players to the Rays to land pitchers Alex Torres and Jesse Hahn -- including three pitchers, Brad Boxberger, Matt Andriese and Matt Lollis.
"We got two arms back that we liked," Byrnes said of the trade with the Rays. "But that's just the depth of the organization. At times, we've made trades where our depth has served us well. That's allowed us to make trades and not expose ourselves."
And the Padres didn't have to touch their top pitching prospects to make upgrades to the roster, such as highly regarded pitchers like Max Fried and Matt Wisler.
The Padres feel the group of arms they've added this winter far trump the ones they lost. First, the team signed free-agent pitcher Josh Johnson to a one-year deal. He'll be a part of what looks like an improved starting rotation.
Reliever Joaquin Benoit signed a two-year deal with the team last month to handle the eighth inning. He can also close, too. Torres will be the left-hander in the bullpen and could be a candidate to handle the seventh inning. Hahn is a highly regarded prospect who will start the season in Double-A.
Anthony Carter, who signed a Minor League deal, could be a sleeper to earn a spot in the bullpen. And Patrick Schuster, acquired from the Astros who selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, has a chance to make the team, though he'll have to stick on the 25-man roster or be offered back.
To be sure, it was anything but a quiet winter for Byrnes and the Padres, who will attempt to improve upon their 76-86 finish in each of the last two seasons. The new pitchers the team has added will go a long way in determining if that happens.
"I think our pitching is still in very good shape in terms of depth," Byrnes said. "And I think our quality is better."