The San Diego Padres have been slow to make moves during the offseason, but they have finally stirred the flames of the Hot Stove.
Jeff Passan tweeted out that the Padres are the favorites to sign 33-year-old Japanese submarine pitcher Kazuhisa Makita and that a report from Japan states he is on his way to San Diego for a physical, while John Heyman tweets out that the Padres have resigned reliever Craig Stammen to a two-year, $4.5 million deal.
Both would likely take a spot in a Padres’ bullpen that is occupied by Brad Hand, Kirby Yates, Phil Maton, and Jose Torres. With Carter Capps coming off of a thoracic outlet procedure, these two pitchers would undoubtedly see time with the major league club.
The Padres signed Stammen to a minor league deal before the previous season, and while he endured a rough stretch in April, he bounced back to have a great season which saw him throw 80.1 innings of ball, while collecting a 3.14 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Stammen was a workhorse for the bullpen and was heavily relied upon by manager Andy Green as he was fifth in the majors in the amount of innings he pitched.
Stammen was able to keep his H/9 rating to a 7.6 while keeping an 8.3 K/9 and a 3.1 BB/9 by striking out 74 batters while walking 28. However, his FIP was not as generous as he carried a 4.38 FIP, a 1.24 difference from his ERA, and his HR/9 mark was his highest since 2009 with a 1.3 number. He was still a solid bullpen piece for San Diego and had a solid bounce back season.
Heyman tweeted out the financial side of the deal, with Stammen taking home $2.25M in 2018 and $2.25M in 2019, and can earn up to $1 million each year in incentives based on games. This a good deal for both sides, as the Padres reinforce their bullpen with a veteran pitcher, and Stammen is able to reward himself for his bounce back effort and stay in America’s Finest City.
The news on Makita is certainly worth noticing, as the Padres have been active in Japan even after losing out on his countryman, Shohei Ohtani. Makita is certainly no slouch, as the Seibu Lion was the Pacific League Rookie of the Year in 2011 and, in 923.1 career innings, carries a very pretty 2.83 ERA. The former starter was just as effective after a move to the bullpen in 2016, posting a 1.90 ERA in nearly 150 innings. His 2017 season was just as impressive, as he pitched to a 2.30 ERA along with a 1.02 WHIP in 62.2 innings.
He has done all of this despite the fact that he carries very low strikeout numbers, as his 5.0 K/9 ratio was his highest since 2012 and matches his career K/9 ratio of 5.0. Of course, he balances this out by posting minuscule walk ratios, as he walked five batters against 35 strikeouts to earn a 0.7 BB/9, a career low, while also careering a career 2.0 BB/9 ratio. His approach to pitching is not that different from current Miami Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler, whose submarine-style pitching generates a lot of ground balls while limiting hard contact.
San Diego has always had great bullpens, and this year may not be all that different. With the addition of Stammen and the potential signing of Makita, the Padres starters may not have to put in many innings of work knowing that they have a strong bullpen backing them up.