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Padres could start pitching hunt at GM Meetings

Padres could start pitching hunt at GM Meetings

Padres could start pitching hunt at GM Meetings
SAN DIEGO -- Josh Byrnes' first General Managers Meetings with the Padres last November rated as fairly quiet.

Byrnes signed free-agent outfielder Mark Kotsay and laid the groundwork for a deal later in the month, a trade with the Marlins that landed catcher John Baker.

Could these meetings, which begin Wednesday in Indian Wells, Calif., rate as busier?

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Byrnes, who arrived at the meeting late Tuesday afternoon, wouldn't predict one way or the other, but he did say that the overhaul of baseball's previous compensation system could accelerate the speed of business in the industry this month in terms of free-agent signings and trades.

"Due to the new rules, I think this offseason is going to move faster," Byrnes said. "I think there will be more moves across the game this month."

So what does that mean for the Padres, who entered the offseason focused firmly on starting pitching -- as in likely adding two arms, either through trade or free agency?

Instead of simply engaging teams and agents with preliminary discussions this week, the Padres are now in a position to do business.

"We're prepared to engage in talks [with agents] or talk trades," Byrnes said, "... a little less tire kicking and more real conversations."

Byrnes and his staff have gathered a handful of starting-pitching targets, names they guard very closely. Some are trade targets, some are free agents.

The Padres don't want to get in a position like they were last season when they had to search outside the organization for starting pitching after Cory Luebke, Joe Wieland and Dustin Moseley were lost for the season by the end of May.

There is no shortage of interesting names out there, at least through free agency. Byrnes has a history with right-hander Dan Haren when both were with the D-backs. Edwin Jackson, another right-hander, threw a no-hitter with the D-backs when Byrnes was the GM and Padres assistant general manager A.J. Hinch was the manager in 2010.

One order of business that won't likely occur during these General Managers Meetings -- or anytime soon -- is the Padres striking a long-term deal with third baseman Chase Headley. An Internet report earlier in the week said the two sides have had discussions about a multiyear deal, but a baseball source said Tuesday that no discussions have taken place to date.

Byrnes wouldn't comment on the issue, but said the level of interest in Headley from other teams has waned, with the perception being that Headley -- who is under team control for two more years -- will almost certainly begin the 2013 season with the Padres.

"I think people know we're not going to move him," Byrnes said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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