Padres interested in signing FA reliever, converting him to starter

Mike Luciano
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 06: General Manager A.J. Preller looks on prior to a game between the San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 06: General Manager A.J. Preller looks on prior to a game between the San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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The San Diego Padres have licked their wounds following Trea Turner’s stunning decision to turn down more money from A.J. Preller and join the reigning NL champion Philadelphia Phillies. The squad needs to regroup and continue trying to add big names in free agency.

Even though Josh Hader is still in place and both Robert Suarez and Nick Martinez have returned to San Diego on long-term deals, the pitching staff could use one or two more big additions. Poaching a relief pitcher and turning him into a starter is an unconventional way of doing that, but it could help San Diego beef up their depth.

The New York Mets are likely going to look much different when the regular season starts. They won’t be able to keep everyone from their bullpen in town, which could convince players like Seth Lugo to trade in his orange and blue colors for the brown and gold of San Diego.

Lugo reportedly has several teams interested in him as a starting pitcher, though he’s been a reliever for the last half-decade with the Mets. The Padres, according to Jon Heyman, are in on Lugo as they try to add more depth and quality to their pitching staff in the winter months.

Will the San Diego Padres sign Seth Lugo?

Lugo was actually brought up as a starter in the Mets’ system, though he eventually transitioned to full-time bullpen work thanks to the depth New York had in their rotation at the time. Considering the numbers he put up, the move seems to have worked like a charm.

Even though he struggled in 2020, Lugo has posted a 3.25 ERA over the last five seasons as a reliever. After striking out 10.9 hitters per nine innings and giving up just 16 home runs in that span, Lugo looks like a player who could thrive in spacious Petco Park full-time.

With Mike Clevinger now on the White Sox, there is a hole at the back end of the San Diego rotation. The Padres could choose to fill it with in-house options like Nick Martinez, but they seem inclined to roll the dice on a player like Lugo that hasn’t started a game in years.

Lugo is going to be a big risk if the Padres pay him like a starter, but his production in the last few years suggests that San Diego will have some use for him. Perhaps he and Martinez can both end up being bullpen arms that can pitch for multiple innings in the worst-case scenario.

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