Not everyone takes a traditional path to the major leagues, and San Diego Padres relief pitcher Robert Suarez is the spitting image of that concept. Suarez and Nick Martinez had to prove that they were the class of the Japanese NPB before anyone would think about giving them a shot in the major leagues.
Suarez inked with San Diego with the hope that he could be another depth-related fireballer to add to Bob Melvin’s stable. Suarez quickly shed that designation, reincarnating himself as a clutch eighth-inning performer who played a part in the Padres’ NLCS run.
Suarez hit the open market with the knowledge that he could get long-term security after his performance last year. Not only is he getting that deal, but he’s sticking around for yet another run at the NL West crown with his old buddies in southern California.
Not only did Jon Morosi confirm that Suarez has signed a deal with San Diego, but he has reportedly inked a contract that is five years with $46 million. He reportedly had one of the most substantial guarantees for a non-closer reliever in recent history. Any doubts about how much A.J. Preller valued him have gone out the window.
The San Diego Padres have signed Robert Suarez.
After Suarez made his way to the states, he used a fastball that occasionally hit triple digits to blow by MLB hitters. Suarez posted a 2.27 ERA, striking out 61 batters in 48 innings. Suarez surrendered just four home runs in total during the regular season, showing that he largely keeps the ball in the park.
Suarez has an important role to fill on this team, as his retention means that the Padres can shorten games to seven innings by bringing him in for the eighth inning and Josh Hader in for the ninth. That is as good of a 1-2 punch as there is in the National League, so the big contract is justified.
With Hader a free agent after this season, and the Edwin Diaz contract potentially getting the southpaw in the mood to chase a nine-figure contract, don’t be surprised if Suarez ends up closing games in 2023. This is likely why the Padres gave Suarez such a long-term deal.
Yes, Phillies fans are going to reply to every Suarez tweet with a video of Bryce Harper launching a game-winning home run off him in Game 5 of the NLCS. Anyone who thinks that the lights-out eighth-inning guy in front of Hader shouldn’t have been paid isn’t being realistic.