The San Diego Padres are one of the few teams that have been busy this winter and they may not be done just yet.
After trading for starting pitchers Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, the Padres are reportedly looking to add more pitching, doing background work on multiple free-agent starting pitchers, according to MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal.
Among those pitchers includes Masahiro Tanaka.
The 32-year-old right-hander has reportedly been considering a return to Japan if the Yankees do not re-sign him, but perhaps he could be convinced to join a star-studded rotation in San Diego.
Tanaka has close ties to two members of the organization in Darvish and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
Tanaka and Darvish, two of the premiere pitchers to play in the MLB from Japan, are good friends and Rothschild was Tanaka’s pitching coach with the Yankees from 2014 to 2019.
Per Rosenthal, the Padres’ interest in Tanaka – and other second-tier free-agent starters – may stem from concerns about right-hander Dinelson Lamet, who did not pitch in the postseason because of biceps tendinitis.
The Padres have already lost Mike Clevinger for the 2021 season and Lamet, who finished fourth in the NL Cy Young vote last year after pitching to a 2.09 ERA and striking out 93 batters in 69 innings over 12 starts, would be another blow to what has arguably become the best rotation in baseball.
There are concerns about Tanaka’s medicals, too, however. The right-hander suffered a partial UCL tear in 2014 and opted to rehab the injury instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Despite the concern, Tanaka has been among the most durable pitchers since 2015, ranking 18th in starts since then.