Once upon a time, there was a Padre named Tim Stauffer. He was drafted by the Padres in the first round (4th overall) of the 2003 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He signed with the team that August, and two seasons later he made his Major League debut. He remained with the team until the end of the 2014 season, racking up 183 big league appearances (73 starts - including Opening Day 2011), an overall 32-34 record, and an all-time 3.87 ERA. For a while, he was the longest-tenured player on the team, until December 2014 when he became a free-agent and parted ways with the team that drafted him. He was, and still remains, one of my all-time favorite Padres.
Where was I going with this?
Oh, right... fast forward two years. The title of longest-tenured Padre has switched hands a few different times since Stauffer parted ways with San Diego. Will Venable took over after Stauffer. Then Andrew Cashner held the title for a while, until he was traded to Miami this past July. After his departure, Alexi Amarista became the longest-tenured Padre.
But now that Amarista has been non-tendered and hit the free-agent market, it’s once again time to pass the crown. The new longest-tenured Padres is...
The 26-year-old southpaw became a member of the Padres organization at the 2011 trade deadline as part of the deal that sent Mike Adams to the Texas Rangers. He split time between the Double-A San Antonio Missions and the Triple-A Tucson Padres, battling tendinitis along the way, until 2013 when he was promoted to the Majors. He made his Major League debut, a relief appearance, on April 24th, 2013. Throughout the rest of that season, he was shuttled back and forth between Tucson and San Diego a few more times, making both starting and relief appearances for the Padres during his big league stints.
The 2014 and 2015 seasons saw him once again split his time between the minors and the big league club. But 2016 was a rough one for Erlin. He opened the season in Triple-A El Paso, but was promoted just a few days later to join the Padres bullpen in place of Matt Thornton, who was placed on the disabled list, and later moved to the rotation to take the spot of Tyson Ross, who also landed on the disabled list. Less than two weeks (and three appearances) later, Erlin himself was placed on the DL with what was initially diagnosed as an elbow strain, and then forearm tightness. But ultimately, he received the unfortunate news that there was a tear in his UCL and he would need Tommy John surgery, effectively putting an end to his season.
So this is where we stand now. Our longest-tenured Padre is a guy who has yet to spend a full season in the big leagues and is coming off a major surgery that may keep him sidelined in 2017 as well. Technically, there are a few players who have been in the Padres organization longer, but they’ve spent even less time with the big league club than Erlin. Cory Spangenberg, Kevin Quackenbush, and Austin Hedges were all drafted and signed by the Padres in 2011 and remain with the team to this day (Colin Rea was also drafted and signed by the Padres that year, but he spent some brief time with the Marlins this past season). None of them, however, were promoted to the Majors until 2014 or 2015.