The Padres are close to a deal with Chad Qualls, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The sides are nearing a one-year deal worth about $2MM that includes a club option for 2012, Morosi reports. Hendricks Sports represents Qualls.
Qualls, who drew interest from at least six teams this offseason, was looking for a one-year deal to rebuild his value, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney. He posted a 7.32 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 for the Rays and D'Backs last year. The 32-year-old allowed 85 hits in 59 innings, but his ground ball rate was typically high (55%) and defense independent pitching stats like FIP and xFIP suggest Qualls should have had an ERA closer to 4.00.
When Padres GM Jed Hoyer listed his remaining offseason priorities earlier in the week, he said he had some interest in adding a reliever, a backup catcher and a left-handed hitter. The Padres have traded away many relievers this offseason, so the team's bullpen – a major strength in 2010 – is not as deep as it was a year ago. Adding Qualls would help offset the loss of Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica.
Since the Rays offered Qualls arbitration, they would obtain a supplementary first round pick for losing the Type B free agent. However, it would not cost the Padres anything to sign him.