The moves don’t come as much of a surprise, given that the Padres were going to be pressed for 40-man roster space entering the offseason. Both Friedrich and Cosart were arbitration-eligible this year and were candidates to be non-tendered.
Friedrich, 30, pitched 24 games for the Padres in 2016, posting a 4.80 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 129 1/3 innings. He dealt with shoulder and elbow ailments in camp, and his ’17 season stalled before it even began. After multiple rehab attempts, he opted for surgery on his left elbow in August. Friedrich is expected to be healthy by the start of Spring Training.
Cosart, meanwhile, made seven appearances for the Padres this season. The 27-year-old righty allowed 13 earned runs in 24 innings, struggling mostly with his control. He walked 19 hitters, compared with just 15 strikeouts. In June, Cosart was shut down because of right elbow trouble, and he underwent surgery in July — marking his second season in a row that ended with an elbow procedure. Like Friedrich, Cosart is expected to be healthy by camp.
Both would’ve been longshots to make the Padres’ 2018 rotation anyway. Clayton Richard is a lock, and Luis Perdomo and Dinelson Lamet are thought to be heavy favorites. That leaves two available places in the starting five, with Travis Wood, Matt Strahm, Robbie Erlin and Colin Rea set to compete for them. (Erlin and Rea are expected to be fully healthy for Spring Training after missing ’17 due to Tommy John surgery.)
The Padres will also look to sign at least two big league-caliber starting pitchers when free agency opens next week. A reunion with Jhoulys Chacin, who posted a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts this season, seems like a distinct possibility.