With a $7.5 million player opt-out this winter, Seth Lugo will likely explore free agency. Should the San Diego Padres consider bringing him back, or do they just let him walk away?
Seth Lugo enjoyed a very productive season for the San Diego Padres in 2023.
Signed away from the Mets, Lugo had never been given the opportunity to start, and he excelled in that role with the Friars.
At points during the season, Lugo was easily the second-best pitcher on the starting staff.
The right-handed pitcher went 8-7 with a 3.57 ERA in 26 starts and 146.1 innings pitched for the Padres this past season. He ate up innings and was able to go late in games and provide rest for the bullpen. That is valuable, as the major league season is long and grueling.
Lugo may not be a household name, but is an important pitcher.
So, should the Padres explore bringing him back, or are there just too many financial issues for the Padres to afford the pitcher?
Let him walk. The Padres can’t afford more contracts.
At this point, the Padres need to save money. The lineup consists of multiple players who are paid very well. There are also members of the staff whom the Padres are already committed to for the next few seasons.
Lugo will be 34 years old next season, and it is hard to fathom him being able to consistently eat up innings for the next several years. Nagging injuries are sure to take a toll on the right-hander as he enters his mid-30s. The Padres cannot afford to gamble with their pitching staff, and Lugo is a bit of an enigma. Will he regress or be able to match his 2023 numbers? It is a gamble.
With so much uncertainty for the future regarding signing players like Josh Hader, Juan Soto, and Blake Snell, it may be time for the Padres to start a youth movement with their starting staff. Robby Snelling had a fantastic year. He probably isn’t ready for the 2024 season, but Jairo Iriarte may be. Dylan Lesko, Adam Mazur, and Victor Lizarraga are lurking in the minors.
Sign him. The staff needs pitchers.
It appears that Blake Snell will leave via free agency. Both Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove missed time in 2023 with injuries. The staff will need some stability, and Lugo could very well be that man.
He battled through some injuries in 2023, but you can rack that up to the long season and the fact he hasn’t thrown that many innings at the major league level.
You can also argue that he will not cost an arm and a leg, as a pitcher of Snell’s pedigree will command on the open market. Lugo has never been a starting pitcher before the 2023 season, so his asking price will be much more reasonable than Snell’s. Expect Lugo to ask for a multiple-year deal in the $10-14 million range for each season. It may not even be that much. He will get a raise over the $7.5 million that he is walking away from.
The Padres should explore signing the right-handed pitcher if the price is right.
The Padres cannot get over-extended with him, so a two-year deal with a team option for the third seems wise. A.J. Preller will likely explore re-signing the pitcher, but he will probably first attack other issues on the roster this winter.
It wouldn’t be too wise to let the exploration talks with Lugo linger, as other teams will be in contact with him. He seemed happy in San Diego, and working with Ruben Niebla is also an incentive for this pitcher. Lugo may return to the Padres, but it will surely be under the organization’s terms.
James was born and raised in America’s Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that’s our motto. Enjoy.