Well there goes another starter. Michael Wacha, who the Padres could’ve brought back through their club options, is now signing with the Kansas City Royals on a two-year, $32 million deal. There is an opt-out after next season.
Right-handed starter Michael Wacha and the Kansas City Royals are in agreement on a two-year, $32 million contract, a source tells ESPN. He gets an opt-out after the first season.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 15, 2023
While it may have felt like an overpay at the moment, in hindsight it seems like the Padres would’ve been smart to just bring Wacha back based on how much money even unsuccessful starters last year are getting on the market this winter.
Of course Wacha has an injury history and Juan Soto’s $30+ million salary was still on the books so it was understandable why A.J. Preller decided to let Wacha explore his options in free agency at that point in time.
The 32-year-old technically signed a four-year deal with the Friars at Spring Training before the 2023 season but there were numerous ways the relationship didn’t have to continue if either side didn’t want it to. Wacha had player options and obviously San Diego had the club option decision this offseason.
While Wacha didn’t go anywhere near 180 innings, he still was one of the better starters in the rotation. In 24 starts, Wacha posted a 3.22 ERA and went at least six innings in 13 of those starts (54%).
Regardless of if Preller and ownership wanted to spend double digits in the millions on starting pitching this offseason they’re probably going to have to. Jack Flaherty just signed a $14 million deal with the Detroit Tigers and he is coming off a worse year than Wacha.
It’s only mid-December but the free agent market keeps shrinking by the day. Perhaps a trade then is on the horizon...