Robert Suarez and the San Diego Padres have tentatively reached an agreement on a five-year, $46 million deal that will keep the reliever in San Diego for up to the next five years, according to MLB insider Jon Morosi.
The deal includes an opt-out clause after the third year of the contract.
Suarez, 31, is the definition of a journeyman. He has had an extensive career which has included stops in the Mexican League as well as five seasons in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB). The Padres signed Suarez over to the MLB after the 2021 season and quickly saw him become one of their most reliable late-inning relievers.
Across 45 games in 2022, Suarez posted a 2.27 ERA and averaged 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9). Suarez also rose to prominence during the team’s 2022 postseason run, where he threw nine innings and allowed three runs but also worked out of multiple high-leverage situations.
With the move, the Padres will have arguably one of the best one-two bullpen punches in baseball by pairing Suarez with Josh Hader, the latter of whom is under contract for one more season before reaching free agency after 2023. The Padres likely had that in mind with their sense of urgency to quickly sign someone who figured to be one of the most sought-after commodities on the reliever market.
Though Suarez only registered one save in 2022 and struggled at times in high-leverage situations, the Padres can feel confident that his triple-digit fastball and dominant change-up will be effective in late innings for a team looking to boost its bullpen prospects.
This isn’t the first time that Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller has doled out a multi-year contract to an effective reliever. Before the 2020 season, Preller signed lefty Drew Pomeranz to a four-year, $34 million contract. While Pomeranz has been hurt for much of his current tenure with the Padres, he has posted a 1.62 ERA across 44 1/3 innings with the team in 2020 and 2021 before missing the entire 2022 season.
With the signing of Suarez, it is undetermined how the Padres will allocate their remaining resources for the rest of the offseason. Left fielder Jurickson Profar and pitcher Nick Martinez recently exercised their opt-out clauses, and it is unknown if the team will bring back either player. In the case of Martinez, his decision to opt out was due to running out of time before the deadline as he and the team are still negotiating, according to The Athletic’s Dennis Lin.
The Padres are expected to be active throughout the offseason, and this move is likely the first of many as they look to replicate their success in 2023.