Arbitration eligible Eric Stults re-signed with the Padres for a one year deal worth 2.75M. While this may seem a modest amount of money compared to say a Robinson Cano 300M contract demand, this does represent a sizable pay raise to Stults, earning him a 5x increase for his 2013 salary of $507,600. Thirty-three year old Eric Stults was our most consistent starter last year, leading the Padres with 11 wins, and bettered his career averages at Petco with a 3.93 ERA and 1.27 WHIP for the year. Most impressively, Eric reached the 200 IP mark, going 203 2/3 innings pitched, demonstrating his consistency and durability in pitching the entire season for the Padres. For a journeyman pitcher that has found his way in San Diego, this is a feel good pay off and reward for a solid year pitched.
What does this mean for Stults and his role for next year? The Padres have suddenly found themselves in a position of strength, as well as surplus when it comes to starting pitching. It is not clear that Stults’ position on the starting five is guaranteed, and nor does the mere signing of the contract set any position in stone. For instance, long reliever and former #1 pick and opening day starter Tim Stauffer was also re-signed for 1.6M. Nevertheless, for a pitcher that has been willing to pitch in Japan to provide for his family, this deal must feel like a million bucks, or 2.75 of them to be exact.
I’m a fan of Eric, as I’ve written in the past; I truly enjoy his make-up and willingness to compete. I think as the off season continues and as we head into the Spring Training competition, we will see Eric with the inside track to earn a starting position on the 25 man roster. He’s one of the incumbents and has been healthy, and is a crafty lefty that will keep opposing teams off-balance while prepping for the Padres. Also very importantly, I think Eric is a good symbol for the Padres and embodies the reality of most baseball players - fringe player that was never handed anything. And I use the term “fringe” in manner of great respect, as Eric is pretty good player. Eric’s presence on the team sets a good example for other players that are willing to compete for the extra bullpen or utility spots on the roster. Work hard and make the most of one’s opportunities.
Congratulations Eric Stults and I look forward to seeing you in action for 2014.