Mike Clevinger free agency update is great news for Padres fans

Jerry Trotta
May 4, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Mike Clevinger (52) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
May 4, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Mike Clevinger (52) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /
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The San Diego Padres’ pitching staff will undergo major changes this offseason. While Nick Martinez and Robert Suarez have already re-signed you can count on there being significant turnover over the long winter. One player fans seemingly have already decided they don’t want back is Mike Clevinger.

Now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Clevinger rejoined the Padres’ starting rotation after missing all of 2021. Fans will remember the right-hander leaving Game.1 of the 2020 NLDS after just one inning following a glaring drop in his velocity.

Clevinger started out 2022 superbly, pitching to a 3.18 ERA into August before spiraling towards the end of the month and into September and October. He started two playoff games, allowing seven earned runs in just 2.2 innings.

That performance seemed to foreshadow Clevinger’s future. During the early stages of free agency, San Diego hasn’t showed any interest in re-upping his contract. In fact, we have a good idea where Clevinger could end up next.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox are showing “strong interest” in Clevinger.

Could Padres free agent Mike Clevinger join the White Sox?

A fresh start is likely what Clevinger needs to get back on track after a wonky 2022, and the White Sox already have a strong top four of their rotation with Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech. With Johnny Cueto a free agent, Clevinger could assume the No. 5 role with little pressure on his shoulders.

Clevinger is simply a far cry from the stud he was in Cleveland early in his career. In 2022, he posted a 4.33 ERA, 1.198 WHIP and a whopping 8.0 hits per nine innings with a 18.8% strikeout rate and 7.2% walk rate. His velocity was down, his stuff didn’t have the same movement and his strikeout and walk rates are trending in the opposite direction.

When you consider AJ Preller offloaded five players who went on to become important pieces for Cleveland, which has won the AL Central in consecutive seasons since the blockbuster, the now-Guardians won this trade in a landslide.

No major damage was done, which is a relief, but Padres fans won’t necessarily be lamenting over the fact Clevinger could be taking his talents elsewhere.

It’s just tough to envision Clevinger getting back to the All-Star level he displayed from 2017-20 when he logged a 2.96 ERA with a picturesque 19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in nearly 500 innings. He’s on the wrong side of 30, and Preller and the Padres are smart to pursue other free agents to round out their starting rotation.

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