Are Padres making right move by bringing back veteran reliever?

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 06: General Manager A.J. Preller of the San Diego Padres (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 06: General Manager A.J. Preller of the San Diego Padres (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The San Diego Padres are trying to build a team that can be a sustainable winner for the next half-decade, which could mean that veteran players could be swapped out in favor of a younger replacement with much higher upside. Within the context of the bullpen, that philosophy led some to believe that Craig Stammen was on his way out.

Not only is Stammen coming off his worse season in years, but he’s going to turn 39 years old soon. With Josh Hader under contract for at least one more year and impact names like Robert Suarez and Nick Martinez locked in with multi-year deals, Stammen could have been cut loose.

However, according to the latest batch of rumors from Ken Rosenthal, the Padres are seeking to bring Stammen back, citing the fact that he is one of Bob Melvin’s most trusted veterans and a leader in what is still a very young San Diego clubhouse.

While it makes sense when framed like that, the Padres now need to make sure that someone who is pushing 40 years old can recover from his injuries and get big outs when needed down the stretch. While not impossible, there certainly are some pitfalls.

Will the San Diego Padres sign Craig Stammen?

Stammen posted an ERA of 3.29 or lower in four of his first five seasons with the Padres, only exceeding that mark in the shortened 2020 season. Unfortunately, his ERA ballooned up to 4.43 last year, allowing names like Suarez to usurp him and take prominent bullpen roles.

Stammen still can be an effective pitcher, when healthy. That hard sinker is still a tough pitch to drive over the fence, and his walk rate remains exemplary for a relief pitcher. If last year was just health-related, Stammen just needs some rest and relaxation to get back to his old self.

With some questions in the starting rotation that have yet to be totally ironed out, the bullpen is going to be more important than ever. If Stammen can hold down the seventh inning before turning it over to Suarez in the eighth and Hader in the ninth, San Diego can shorten the game against elite competition.

Stammen is one of the longest-tenured Padres on the roster, a remnant from the franchise’s days of treading water and tanking in the latter half of the last decade. Stammen thinks he can be a part of a new breed of Padre that competes for championships, and it seems like A.J. Preller agrees.

He’s earned a one-year deal, at least.