1 year, $11 million.
1 year, $12 million.
2 years, $24 million.
Those are the contracts recently handed out to veterans Lance Lynn (St. Louis Cardinals), Kyle Gibson (St. Louis Cardinals) and Kenta Maeda (Detroit Tigers), respectively.
Are free agents Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha worthy of at least that much per year? Let me think...yes.
Maeda made fewer starts, pitched fewer innings, had a worse ERA and was older than Lugo and Wacha in 2023 but still got $12 million per year with the Detroit Tigers. Lynn’s fWAR in 2023 was 0.5 while Lugo and Wacha’s were 2.8 and 2.6, respectively.
Sure, Detroit probably knows it was an overpay for Maeda because they wanted to get ahead of the market but value is value. And Wacha provided more value to the Padres than Maeda (1.5 fWAR) provided to the Twins last season. Same thing with Lugo. Obviously same thing with NL CY Young winner Blake Snell but he’s at the top of the market this winter.
While these free agent starting pitcher signings are good for the players, it may end up being a bad thing for San Diego because now they might get priced out of certain starters at least until the market falls back to them.
It may not even get to that point though so it seems like it’s going to be another winter where A.J. Preller’s is going to have to find cheaper versions of Lugo and Wacha since there is less than $15 million of room before the Padres hit $200 million—the reported target number for San Diego going into the season.
Unless the Padres trade Juan Soto. Then we’re having an entirely different conversation.