With the signing of Garland, everyone was saying that the rotation was set. But now I am hearing a few references to only 4 spots being set (see DePodesta's interview with Hacksaw), which would be Young, Correia, Garland and Richard. All of a sudden, Latos isn't a lock for the starting rotation, and that is probably only because he has minor league options left, but also to limit his innings early in the season.
My prediction: Stauffer or Gallagher will get the 5th spot to open the season (they're both out of minor league options). The Padres would love for one of them to pitch well enough so that they could deal him and get something of value in return. A trade in late May/ early June would be my guess. Meanwhile, Latos is in AAA making a few starts but mostly keeping his innings under control. That way, he is ready to take the 5th spot after the trade of Stauffer/Gallagher. Another plus to sending Latos to the minors would be limiting his major league service time, therefore delaying arbitration/free agency. Not sure how long he would have to stay in AAA for that to come into effect. I'm sure someone out there knows.
I actually think I am okay with this scenario. Stauffer has shown too much ability to pitch in the major leagues to simply give him away because he's out of options. And I think we need to see more of Gallagher before any decisions are made on him.
What are your predictions for the 5th starter?