The San Diego Padres proved they were capable of playing good baseball over a long stretch of time in 2012, finishing with a 42-33 record in the second half of the season that included a torrid 18-10 August. The hope of fielding a contending team in the near future gives the club a legitimate reason to go after free agents in the offseason, and based on rumors that the Padres have interest in both Dan Haren and fellow starter Shaun Marcum, who would seem to qualify more as a contingency plan at this point.
The organization is nowhere near a deal with either veteran starter, but it does seem warranted for San Diego to spend the offseason bolstering its rotation — despite playing in one of the more pitcher-friendly parks in the game, Padres pitchers combined for just 5.7 WAR (per FanGraphs) in 2012, the second worst mark among all 30 teams. While both of these pitchers would improve the rotation, neither is coming off his best season.
Haren, 32, failed to crack the 200 inning mark for the first time since 2004 (when he spent the majority of the season in the minors) and compiled just 1.8 WAR, by far the lowest total of his career since becoming an established major leaguer. Marcum, who will soon be turning 31, missed significant time in 2012 and posted a deceivingly low ERA (3.7o) thanks to a fortunate BABIP and strand rate. Although he saw an increase in his walk rate (2.98 BB/9), it came with an improved strikeout rate as well (7.91 K/9).
The Padres aren’t looking to sign either pitcher to a long-term deal, which is a wise move considering the health risks involved, and that makes any resulting deal a lot easier to get behind if you’re a fan of the team.