Robert Suarez: 5 years, $46 million through 2027
The Robert Suarez contract is a little bit of a mystifying one. Prior to his arrival in the major leagues in 2021, he played professional baseball almost exclusively in Japan, where he was good but not especially great. He made $6 million during his first year in MLB and put up unexpectedly great numbers: he posted a 2.27 ERA, the best on the Padres, over 47.2 innings, with 61 strikeouts and only 12 earned runs. Those numbers are what led the Padres to offer him a five-year contract worth $46 million ($9.2 million per year), making him the eighth-highest paid reliever in baseball this year.
But his output declined significantly in 2023, pitching only 27.2 innings, with 24 strikeouts and 13 earned runs, for a final 4.23 ERA. What's more, he was suspended for using an illegal substance in September, right at the beginning of what was always a highly improbable but nevertheless fun to watch late-season push from the Padres to take the last contentious NL Wild Card spot. He returned after 10 games on September 11 and made 10 more good appearances that significantly dropped his ERA.
Still, such a decline in performance, one that might have led to to the kind of desperation it takes to get caught with a foreign substance as checks become more stringent, is not a hopeful sign for the next four years. It might be a little too early to tell how much regret the Padres will look back at this contract with, but things aren't looking great right now.