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Pierce Johnson, Craig Stammen returning to Padres in 2022; Kela, Melancon, and Marisnick head to free agency

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We have some Padres roster news on this Friday...

Atlanta Braves v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

On Friday, the San Diego Padres announced that they are picking up the club options on Craig Stammen and Pierce Johnson while choosing not to pick up Keone Kela’s and Jake Marisnick’s club option, making them both free agents this winter. Closer Mark Melancon declined his player option, thus making him a free agent as well.

It isn’t a surprise that AJ Preller decided to keep Stammen and Johnson, as both stayed healthy in 2021 and played significant roles in the Padres bullpen staying afloat, to a degree, this season. Stammen, in particular, was huge for San Diego, as he led the bullpen in innings after constantly stepping up and starting games as the opener when essentially the entire rotation got hurt at some point this season.

It was surprising to me, however, that Kela’s option wasn’t picked up because he would be making less than $1 million in 2022 since he had to undergo Tommy John surgery last season. This is a guy who had an ERA under four over the course of three consecutive seasons from 2017-2019, so he has the talent—it’s just a matter of if he can get back to pitching like that next season.

As for Melancon, it isn’t mind blowing that he didn’t accept his player option because there’s no way that he would’ve made more with this one-year deal than what he can make on the open market after an All-Star campaign with the Padres in 2021. Look for him to be one of the most sought after relievers on the market, meaning that it might mean he isn’t in the brown and gold come Spring Training in 2022.

Marisnick was acquired at the deadline and he didn’t make a real impact for the Padres, which was expected because he didn’t really come as a ‘need’ for the Padres. San Diego needed starting pitching at the deadline and instead, Preller went out and acquired a glove-first bench outfielder. Marisnick would’ve made $4 million if the Padres would have exercised his club option for 2022 but there was no chance for that to happen.

The Padres should be looking to replace Marisnick’s spot with a power hitting outfielder off the bench.