Tyson Ross is a stock Padres need to maintain high value

Credit: Richard W. Rodriguez

Credit: Richard W. Rodriguez

When assessing Tyson Ross over his next few or several or dozen starts, there should perhaps be a sort of stock tracker alongside a heat map and pitch graphs and other metrics that measure a pitcher's performance.

With every outing, every strikeout or walk, every slider that spins past a swung bat or hangs in the zone and finds the barrel's sweet spot, Ross becomes more valuable or slightly less so to the Padres.

Because the hope is that Ross will help the Padres win — one way or another, for as long as he is here and then when they send him elsewhere.

With his worst inning of the season, Ross lost a game and lost some value on Monday night.

The 31-year-old right-hander stumbled against the Nationals, getting to the sixth inning having allowed two hits and a run before surrendering four runs on a walk and four hard hits.

He made it through the sixth, the sixth time he has done so in his seven starts. But he fell to 2-3 and saw his ERA rise to 3.89 in 41 2/3 total innings as the Nationals won, 8-3.

Ross has been too good this season to be too worried about one inning that ruined one outing.

The Padres, certainly, must hope Monday was a blip in the market and not the beginning of a plummet.

It might be a little early to be talking about shipping off the new ace of the staff who was the old ace of the staff.

Teams that might be contenders and need starting pitching have perhaps not fully identified themselves. The season is not even six weeks old.

But Ross has been identified by several people (inside and outside the organization) as a potential trade piece that can bring the Padres prospects.

Padres general manager A.J. Preller has shown he is not afraid to pull the trigger when presented with a swap he deems sufficiently beneficial.

Preller started off the team's extensive wheeling and dealing in 2016 just a few days into June when he sent James Shields and a brimming Brinks truck to the White Sox for Fernando Tatis Jr., now the Padres' No.1 prospect.

What might it take for the Padres to move Ross?

Think along the lines of Fernando Rodney for Chris Paddack in '16. A contending team renting a reasonably priced veteran and giving the Padres a high-ceiling prospect. That sort of thing.

Signed to a minor-league deal after struggling in his 2017 comeback from thoracic outlet surgery, Ross had to earn his rotation spot this spring.

He is found money.

The Padres would love to have the chance to spend him wisely. And that likely means moving him.

Ross has given the Padres a chance to win all but two of his seven starts. The Padres had won four of his six starts entering Monday.

But even sustaining that pace the rest of the season – the team winning 13 or 16 of his remaining starts – doesn't make the Padres a contender this year.

He'll turn 32 early next season.

He's primed to help a team win soon.

This is not that team.

The Padres on Monday moved Bryan Mitchell from the rotation to the bullpen, a step that indicated they are not interested in forfeiting games this season. But neither do they have delusions about who they are.

This season is about finding out about their young players — ones currently on the roster who might be championship pieces and others in the minors who will get a chance to show they can help.

It's why Mitchell even got a shot at the rotation. It's why Luis Urias will be here soon. It's why Ross almost certainly won't last too far into summer.

Could Ross be a boon to the building Padres? Absolutely.

He's a gentleman, thoughtful, a hard worker. He spends time with young pitchers. And he's showing them on the mound what that ethic can produce.

He's practically pitching like it's 2015, when he was wrapping up a three-year stretch for the Padres in which he was among the game's 20 most effective starters.

Only he's older and wiser. The velocity is down a tick from then, but the movement on his pitches is back. He's more of a pitcher than a thrower, a sharper mind than powerful arm. He's generally better at managing baserunners then he was.

If he keeps pitching effectively, he is going to cash in during free agency. The Padres have a cadre of young arms they believe are going to be excellent major leaguers. They need to find out whether they are right. They won't be investing big money in a 32-year-old pitcher.

His contract for this year is absolutely nothing to take on. If he was traded tomorrow, Ross' new team would be on the hook for less than $1.5 million.

The Padres just need him to maintain his value.

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