Julio Teheran is perfect low-risk, high-reward move for Padres

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 09: Julio Teheran #49 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches against the Texas Rangers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 09: Julio Teheran #49 of the Los Angeles Angels pitches against the Texas Rangers (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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The San Diego Padres lost their first big name in free agency, as starting pitcher Mike Clevinger bolted in order to join the Chicago White Sox. San Diego preceded that news by agreeing to terms with former Atlanta Braves ace Julio Teheran on a minor league contract.

After it looked like Teheran was going to be the Braves’ ace for the future, he hit a wall and started to stagnate. Following a terrible stint for the Los Angeles Angels and a one-game cameo with the Detroit Tigers, Teheran was forced to play in independent leagues and suit up in Mexico.

Teheran is trying to give it one last shot in the majors. With 20.1 bWAR, a seven-season stretch in which he posted a 3.64 ERA, and seven consecutive years in which he pitched more than 170 innings, he’s a solid starter in this league at his best. Can he get back to it?

He’ll likely need some time in Triple-A El Paso to get back in a groove, but the Padres could have some use for him if injuries keep befalling the team. Even if he isn’t the ace he was in Atlanta, he could contribute to a winning team if he is healthy enough. Who needs Kodai Senga?

Will the San Diego Padres get something out of Julio Teheran?

The last three years have not been kind to Teheran, but let’s analyze them more closely. Yes, his ERA jumped from 3.81 in his last year with the Braves to 10.05 with the Angels, but how many veteran pitchers have struggled to perform in that ballpark? His Tigers sting in 2021 was cut short after one start.

While he had an ERA of close to 5.00 in the Mexican League with the Sultanes de Monterrey, half of the stadiums in Mexico are equivalent to pitching at Coors Field, given the altitude. Teheran, who will be 32 when the season starts, has plenty of juice left in the tank.

While his fastball is not as explosive as it was when he arrived in the majors, he’s still got solid offspeed stuff and can dodge bats at a solid clip. San Diego doesn’t have an Astros-esque pitching laboratory that turns below-average arms into stars, but they have enough competency to get Teheran back to his old form.

Teheran was not very good with the Angels, leaving his pro reputation in tatters. However, there’s enough good stuff for the Padres to buy a lottery ticket and hope that they can rebuild him into a respectable player.

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