Should the Padres Look to Add Eric Gagne?

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(AP Photo/John Raoux)

This spring, the World Baseball Classic is being played across the planet, and every participating nation has a lot of talented players that are representing their home country or country of ancestor.

But one player in particular got my attention last week.

It was former Dodger great, Eric Gagne. For those of you who do not remember Gagne, he was once was the premier closer in the major leagues. The big right-hander set the record for consecutive saves with 84, which is obviously very impressive.

In a span, during the ’03 and ’04 season, whenever he came into a game to close it out, the Dodgers would put the phrase “Game Over” up on the Jumbotron. He was basically automatic. Gagne would eventually move on to the Texas Rangers , Boston Red Sox, and Milwaukee Brewers without much success. The last time we saw Eric Gagne in the majors was in ’08 and it was assumed that he was done. But during this year’s WBC tournament, Team Canada came calling and Gagne had a very solid showing in pool play.

Looking at the Padres’ bullpen, one could make the argument that further help is needed, because you can never have enough arms. So when I saw Gagne pitch, I immediately thought “could this guy be worth signing to a minor league contract?” The answer is not as automatic as you might think. Gagne is 41 years old and it’s been almost a decade since he played competitive baseball at the major league level. That in itself is a scary thought.

I’m not saying that he would have the kind of success that Fernando Rodney had in the first half of last season. Rodney, though coming off a down year, was still an active pitcher in the league.

After the performance Gagne had this WBC, he’s worth a look. If he flames out, then the Padres could get rid of him without any consequences. A minor league deal makes sense at this point. He would have to earn a spot on the team after performing in El Paso, but it is possible. After Canada’s participation ended in the tournament, scouts were raving about the fact that Gagne consistently hit 93 MPH on his fastball. Though at the beginning, he struggled to find the strike zone, once he settled down we saw glimpses of his once dominant self.

Look, at the end of the day asking consistent production out of a 41-year-old pitcher might be too much, but given the current state of the pitching staff , signing Gagne to a minor league deal is not the worst idea in the world.

I’m not saying that they should, but what I am saying is that if the Padres were to sign Gagne, it would be a creative way to try to get some much-needed experience to a bullpen that could use it. When you take into consideration what Darren Balsley did last season with pitchers like Fernando Rodney, and to some degree with Edwin Jackson, I think that giving Gagne a chance could be feasible.

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