Free Agent Stock Watch: Vicente Padilla

Vicente Padilla wrapped 2009 up in style, turning in two strong postseason starts after a big finish to the regular season in L.A. The result: a one-year $5.025MM deal. Padilla's about to hit free agency again, but he's out for the season, so he won't head into the offseason with the same momentum he did a year ago. Here's the outlook for the Dodgers righty:

The Pros

  • Padilla posted 8.0 K/9 with 2.3 BB/9 and a 4.07 ERA.
  • His average fastball velocity (92.4 mph) hasn't been this high since 2005.
  • He doesn't turn 33 until later this month, so he's still relatively young even though he has 12 years of big league experience.
  • The neck injury that has sidelined Padilla probably won't require surgery.
  • He is projected to be a Type B free agent, so he won't cost a draft pick.
  • Padilla's tenure in Texas ended badly a year ago, but he has since earned Joe Torre's trust, which reflects well.

The Cons

  • He'll miss the rest of the season with a bulging disk in his neck.
  • A forearm injury sidelined Padilla earlier in the season, so he made just 16 total starts in 2010.
  • Padilla didn't replicate the strong finish he had a year ago and posted a 10.13 ERA in his final three starts.

The Verdict

The Dodgers don't seem likely to offer arbitration, since they didn't make such offers to Padilla or any other free agents a year ago. Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda are hitting free agency, too, so the Dodgers will be looking for starting pitching this winter. Some teams may shy away from Padilla because he missed so much time with injuries, but his strong performance should be enough to earn him $3-4MM on a one-year deal this offseason, whether it's with the Dodgers or not.

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