Good morning/afternoon/evening, MLB offseason shoppers. While you’re browsing the ace sectionogling a Zack Greinke, drooling over a David Price, maybe checking the sticker on a Stephen Strasburgcan we interest you in something else?

Like, say, a 28-year-old right-hander who racked up 212 strikeouts in 196 innings with a 3.26 ERA last season and is under team control through 2017?

What’s that? Your interest is piqued? Well, step right up and take a gander at Tyson Ross.

The San Diego Padres stud hasn’t received the buzz that’s swirled around the big free-agent aces, such as Price, Greinke and Johnny Cueto, or the prime (potential) trade targets, including Strasburg and the New York Mets‘ Matt Harvey.

Hype is hard to quantify, of course. And Bleacher Report’s Zachary D. Rymer did slot Ross at No. 19 on his list of the winter’s top 100 free agents and trade targets. But when you scan that collection of coveted arms again, doesn’t Ross feel like the guy you’ve heard the least about?

Still, he’s got the stuff and recent track record to belong in that elite group. And the Friars are indeed “shopping” him, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

It’d take a sparkling package of prospects, possibly even sparklier than the one the Boston Red Sox sent to San Diego to acquire closer Craig Kimbrel. But it’d be worth it.

Ross debuted with the Oakland A’s in 2010 and has spent three seasons with the Padres, so his profile isn’t as high as it would have been had he been doing his thing in New York, Boston or even up the freeway in Los Angeles.

But make no mistake: This is one of the most talented pitchers in baseball, and he’s ripe for the picking.

After flashing promise, Ross truly broke out in 2014, posting a 2.81 ERA with 195 strikeouts in 195.2 innings and making his first All-Star team.

Last season, he battled command issues and coughed up an MLB-leading 84 walks. But he also averaged an eye-opening, career-best 9.73 strikeouts per nine innings. And if you like WAR, his mark of 4.4 was likewise a career high, per FanGraphs.

Ross is, simply put, the kind of big, bat-missing talent any general manager with a hole near the top of his rotation would covet.

Before the Kimbrel deal was consummated, a Ross trade was “discussed heavily” between the Red Sox and Padres, per Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan. Even now, Ross-to-Beantown isn’t an impossibility, as Boston has plenty of trade chips left in its enviably deep farm system.

The Chicago Cubs tried to land Ross at the 2015 trade deadline, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported at the time, and have the pieces to pursue him now.

Really, all of the clubs that are reported to be in on Greinke and Price figure to at least inquire about Ross. That’s a list that includes, but is by no means limited to, the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants.

And unlike the aforementioned Strasburg and Harvey, a Ross trade feels like more than wild hot-stove speculation.

Here’s an interesting wrinkle: As Rosenthal noted, the Pads are also shopping outfielder Matt Kemp, who played 154 games last year and drove in 100 runs but has been plagued by injuries and is owed gobs of cash through 2019.

It’s possible San Diego would consider a slightly less robust return for Ross if another club was willing to eat Kemp’s onerous contract as well.

Really, though, all of this hinges on whether the Kimbrel-to-Boston trade, along with the deal that sent setup man Joaquin Benoit to the Seattle Mariners, is the start of an all-out fire sale. 

It might not be, as Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune outlined:

That Ross trade talk? Know that a contract extension is part of the discussion in the front office, as is listening when teams call on a 28-year-old right-hander with two more years of control.

Because, of course, they’re gonna call.

So Padres general manager A.J. Preller is weighing his options. After going all-in last winter and watching the Friars finish a disappointing fourth in the National League West, Preller has to decide if he wants to tinker, reload or blow it all up and start over.

“We have some flexibility financially looking at the free-agent market,” Preller told Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller after the Kimbrel trade. “We’re looking to be a championship organization, and this gives us a chance to move some money around and invest in different areas, and we’re looking forward to doing that.”

That’s a cagey, politician’s non-answer and leaves all doors open. Really, it might behoove Preller to hang on to Ross until next winter, when he will still have a year left before free agency and the pool of available arms will be much shallower. 

But if Preller does press the rebuild button now, Ross will rocket to the top of a lot of GMs‘ wish lists. 

The shelves may be sagging with aces, but this is one prize MLB’s winter shoppers can’t afford to overlook.


All statistics and contract information current as of Nov. 19 and courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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