Adding Carlos Estévez would make Padres’ bullpen scary

Jun 21, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Carlos Estevez (53) reacts after striking out Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux (9) in the 10th inning earning a save in the game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres could add another closer to their bullpen by swinging a deal for the Angels’ Carlos Estévez.

The Padres should feel confident about their closer situation with Robert Suarez and his 1.02 ERA and 2.62 FIP. However, it’s also clear that they need to add relievers to the mix and bolster the bullpen. The team ranks 15th in bullpen ERA overall, with that mark being much worse without Suarez. Padres relievers not named Suarez seem to alternate between great stretches and a string of poor outings. That isn’t what you want from a bullpen trying to guide this Padres team to a postseason berth.

Specifically, the Padres should add a right-hander. On the left side, they have a bevy of options with Wandy Peralta (3.94 ERA), Yuki Mastui (3.38), and a breakout year from Adrián Morejón (2.39).

Meanwhile, among right-handers, Jeremiah Estrada has been San Diego’s best option outside of Suarez. However, after a stellar start to his Padres career (0.48 ERA in 15 games through June 3), he’s had a rough stretch since getting very ill over the last five weeks. Since June 3, he has a 6.75 ERA in 13 games. One would think he will return to his solid form once he fully recovers.

After Estrada, Enyel De Los Santos and Stephen Kolek have a combined 4.10 ERA. Both of those righties have been hot and cold. De Los Santos has allowed ten home runs, and Kolek put together an 11.70 ERA in May. Both have been better of late.

Either way, the Padres could stand to improve. A lot of relievers they rely on are unproven young arms with possible innings limits or have a lack of experience late in an MLB season. They need someone else to help bridge the gap between the starter and Suarez. How about adding another team’s closer?

Carlos Estévez has had a nice run with the Angels over the last two seasons. Since the beginning of 2023, he owns a 3.63 ERA and 122 ERA+ in 90 appearances, including an All-Star selection last season. He posted 31 saves last year for the Halos and so far has 16 for the floundering team in Anaheim in 2024.

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The Angels have hit a tailspin and are essentially out of playoff contention, with their chances nearing one percent to make the postseason. It would behoove them to sell off any piece they can, especially players on expiring deals like Estévez. He entered this season owed $6.75 million in the final year of his deal. If the Padres were to acquire him, that figure would be prorated since the Padres would only have him for roughly two months of the regular season.

This year, it has been much of the same for Estévez. Not only does he have a 3.00 ERA and 142 ERA+ in 27 games (worthy of another All-Star selection), but his 2.94 FIP suggests he is doing all that without much help from his defense.

His fastball touches 98 mph with a devastating slider and occasional changeup.

Here he is, blowing All-Star Adley Rutschman away with a fastball to seal a win for the Angels.

Adding Estévez as the eighth-inning man ahead of Suarez only lengthens and deepens San Diego’s bullpen. Then, Estrada can be used in key situations against right-handed batters in the seventh. Manager Mike Shildt would have more latitude in how he deploys his best lefties, not having to reserve one for the classic setup role in the eighth. Also, in the case that Suarez is unavailable for a save situation because of overuse, Estévez can step in as the closer. He has 72 career saves spanning over six seasons.

He is also familiar with pitching at Petco Park, given his six seasons with the Rockies. In 18 games at Petco Park over his career, he owns a stellar 1.15 ERA.

The fact that he is on an expiring deal should lower his price tag. They likely would not need to part with any of their top 10 prospects to acquire the Dominican closer. The Padres are roughly $12 million away from the first tax threshold, which they are desperately trying to avoid crossing. This acquisition would still allow them room for another cheap addition or two elsewhere on the roster. The Padres would come away from this deal with basically two proven MLB closers to pitch the eighth and ninth innings.

No team wants to face that, especially in the postseason.

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