After he declined his 2024 player option, the San Diego Padres have officially lost Seth Lugo to the Kansas City Royals, of all teams. On Tuesday, Lugo agreed to a three year, $45 million deal with a player option in 2026 with the Royals, who are making good on their promise to put $30 million toward bolstering their rotation this offseason.
In his original deal with San Diego, Lugo signed a two year, $15 million contract with the opt-out he exercised this year. With the Royals, he's doubling his earnings over all three years. Following the signing, MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported that the Padres also offered Lugo a deal in an attempt to keep him: four years, but for a smaller sum of money than the Royals.
Padres sink to new depth after Seth Lugo/Royals contract details surface
We've already gone into how the Padres are losing out on big free agents to division rivals and sitting on money they have back from losing Lugo, Blake Snell, Josh Hader, Juan Soto, among others in trades or free agency, but this is a new low for San Diego. The Padres, the No. 3 spenders in the league in 2023, let their rotation fall into even further disarray because they weren't willing to outspend the Royals, the No. 24 spenders in the league last year.
The Royals have been open about exactly how much extra money they have to spend this year on free agents, what parts of the team they're going to focus on with it and, most importantly, they're actually doing it. The Padres have been quiet on pretty much all aspects of strategy going into this offseason aside from shopping Soto. The package they got back from the Yankees is nothing to sniff at, but the team has a had a frustrating lack of direction aside from this one transaction.
Letting Lugo go to Royals is just another indication of how lax and passive the Padres front office is being this year. Meanwhile, they have an empty spot in left field, need to find a reliever who is even half as elite as Hader, and still need at least two rotation pieces to make up for any of the spots Lugo, Snell, and Michael Wacha vacated in free agency. If the Padres are going to keep letting free agents keep slipping through their fingers, even ones they already have working relationships with, things aren't going to look great for next season.