Rotation arms atop Padres' free-agency list

Preller on starting pitching: 'We're going to cast a wide net'

Rotation arms atop Padres' free-agency list

SAN DIEGO -- Six Padres are hitting the open market in free agency, which begins Monday at 9:01 p.m. PT.

And there's plenty of work to do in San Diego -- regardless of whether the Padres bring back a few of those players. The rotation is already thin -- and could be even thinner come Spring Training, depending on the statuses of three recovering hurlers.

Plus, there's the critical matter of infusing a young clubhouse with some form of veteran presence. By the time free agency kicks off, Brett Wallace will be the only Padre older than 30 on the roster.

Padres not pressured to add veterans to roster

Free agents: OF Jon Jay, RHP Carlos Villanueva, RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Clayton Richard, RHP Brandon Morrow, IF Adam Rosales

Arbitration-eligible: RHP Tyson Ross, IF Alexi Amarista, C Hector Sanchez, C Derek Norris, RHP Carter Capps, 1B Brett Wallace, 1B Wil Myers, 3B Yangervis Solarte, RHP Brandon Maurer, LHP Brad Hand, LHP Christian Friedrich, OF Oswaldo Arcia

Biggest potential free-agent loss

The future of the Padres' outfield looks bright, after Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot impressed in their September debuts. They join Travis Jankowski and Alex Dickerson to form a talented, but very young, corps.

If Jay opts to sign elsewhere, the Padres would sorely miss his experience and his versatility. Plus, the young Padres outfielders seemed to use Jay as a de facto coach this year.

More importantly, Jay spent time at all three outfield spots, and he has posted even splits against lefties and righties throughout his career. There's undoubtedly a spot for him on the 2017 roster, after he led the Padres with a .291 average while finishing second with a .339 OBP.

Potential free-agent targets

As mentioned above, the Padres' already thin rotation enters 2017 with some serious injury questions regarding Ross (shoulder), Jarred Cosart (elbow) and Colin Rea (elbow).

"[We want to sign] as many starters as possible," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. "We're going to cast a wide net. ... It's kind of twofold: Finding guys for next year that can get you toward those 1,000 innings that you need from your starters, basically; and then obviously finding guys long term that are going to fit in your plans."

The Padres may avoid some of the high-cost arms on the market, but they still need to add at least two big league-caliber starters. Ivan Nova, Josh Collmenter and Doug Fister could fit the bill, while Richard and Jackson have expressed a desire to return.

Wild-card scenario

In the bullpen, Maurer, Hand and Ryan Buchter return, while Capps should be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. Relief pitching could be a strength in 2017.

All four are cost-controlled relievers who have been very effective -- making them desirable commodities.

If the Padres deal any of them, they'll be in the market for another veteran bullpen arm -- not unlike last year's signing of Fernando Rodney to a team-friendly $1.6 million deal. (Hey, Rodney's available again this year, too.)

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.