With two new relievers added to the mix, the San Diego Padres are likely ready heading into spring training, meaning Trevor Rosenthal will sign elsewhere.
The Padres busy offseason continued over the weekend, adding relievers Mark Melancon and Keone Kela. Both pitchers’ deals have yet to be formally announced as Melancon’s is health-dependent, and Kela is waiting for a spot to open up on the 40-man roster.
News spread like wildfire when Kela alluded to signing with the Padres via his Instagram account, which was later removed for reasons previously mentioned. Regardless, semantics will be sorted out, and both players will be battling for closer duties for the Friars in 2021.
Melancon led the major leagues with 51 saves with the Pirates in 2015 and collected 47 saves the following year, split between Pittsburgh and the Nationals. During the 2016 offseason, the 32-year-old signed a lucrative four-deal, $62M deal with the San Francisco Giants, and the proverbial wheels fell off. In two and half seasons with the Giants, Melancon posted a 3.67 ERA – including a 4.50 ERA in 2017 – with a career-worst 10.5 H/9. He spent the last two seasons in Atlanta, collecting a combined 22 saves with a much-improved 2.78 ERA in 2020.
As for Kela, the former 12th round pick of the Texas Rangers in 2012 still has time on his side. He’ll turn 28 before the 2021 season gets underway, but he’s also coming back from a forearm injury that limited him to just two innings during the 2020 shortened campaign. He collected 24 saves split between the Rangers and Pirates in 2018, with an 11.4 K/9. Fela has the propensity to walk a few batters, which has held him back from becoming one of the more prominent closers in this league. Still, he’ll likely get an opportunity to showcase himself as capable of handling such duties.
As for the trickle-down effect, the bullpen’s back end was the last item to address before pitchers and catchers report to Peoria Sports Complex. Trevor Rosenthal was entertaining offers from ballclubs, with the Toronto Bluejays showing the most interest. Alex Colome also remained available and has proven closer experience. But the signings of Melancon and Kela surely signal Rosenthal’s time in San Diego was short-lived.
He was a valuable asset for the Padres, acquired at the trade deadline from the Royals for Edward Olivares and a PTNBL, which was later determined to be right-hander Dylan Coleman. Rosenthal had an outstanding 2020 season, collecting a combined 11 saves between the Royals and Padres, and did not allow a run in ten innings of work with San Diego. After the Padres lost Kirby Yates early in the season, the back-end of the bullpen was the elephant in the room as Emilio Pagan was still finding his footing in a new uniform. Pagan also dealt with some bicep tightness, which likely attributed to him having an off-year.
Rosenthal was acquired for practically nothing, no offense to Olivares, of course, and he will get paid handsomely. Heading into the 2021 season, the Padres, on paper, are stacked in the bullpen, with Drew Pomeranz, Pagan, Melancon, and Kela all likely candidates to pitch in the eighth and ninth innings. Padres’ pitchers and catchers are set to report on Wednesday, February 17.