Is Luis Avilan too good to be true?
The 2018 San Diego Padres offense was one of the worst in franchise history, the starting rotation finished with an ERA over 5.00, but the bullpen was fantastic. Led by veterans Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates and backed by young fireballers in Robert Stock, Trey Wingenter, and others, the Padres bullpen was fascinating to watch and one of the only bright spots of 2018.
Stammen has one year left on his contract, while fellow right-handed reliever and current closer Kirby Yates has been involved in numerous trade rumors after his best season in the majors. Even without these two arms, the Padres still have plenty of right-handed bullpen talent.
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The 29-year-old reliever has had a solid major league career since making his MLB debut with the Atlanta Braves in 2012. In seven pro seasons, Avilan has appeared in 399 games, pitching to a 3.09 career ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and has given up 0.4 HR/9 IP.
The Philadelphia Phillies decided to non-tender Avilan last week after logging just 5.2 innings after being traded from the Chicago White Sox on August 22nd.
Could there be injury concerns that lead the Phillies to use him sparingly and then non-tender him? Avilan’s fastball velocity dipped more than two MPH (down to 90.6 mph) and he used it a career-low 34% of the time (48% changeup, 18% curveball). If there is an issue here, there hasn’t been any reports.
Should the Padres target Avilan, it would be mainly to pitch against left-handed hitters, his typical role throughout his career. Just last year, lefties put up a slash line of .217/.304/.341 versus righties who posted a slash of .277/.346/.387. Avilan struck out 26% of both RHH and LHH.
I don’t anticipate the Padres heavily pursuing bullpen help but they will surely sign at least one, if not two, arms to come in and compete during spring training. At an estimated $3 million salary in 2019, Avilan would be worth money.