8:10pm: Lyles will earn $1MM in guaranteed money from the deal, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (via Twitter), with Heyman adding that the deal breaks down as $750K in salary and $250K as a buyout for the 2019 option. If Lyles’ 2019 option is picked up, Lin notes that the right-hander can also earn performance bonuses in that extra year.
7:10pm: The Padres have announced the signing of right-hander Jordan Lyles to a one-year deal with a club option for the 2019 season. Lyles’ deal is a Major League contract and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter link) reports that the deal is worth $750K. Lyles is represented by the Ballengee Group. In a corresponding move, the Padres also announced that lefty Travis Wood has been designated for assignment to create 40-man roster space.
Lyles signed a minor league deal with San Diego back in August and posted a 9.39 ERA over five starts for the Padres. That shaky stint underlined an overall rough year for the righty, as Lyles posted a 7.75 ERA over 69 2/3 IP with Colorado and San Diego. ERA indicators such as xFIP (4.64) and SIERA (4.37) painted a more flattering picture of Lyles’ 2017 performance, as he did suffer from an inflated .352 BABIP and a below-average 61.2% strand rate. On the other hand, Lyles also saw his home run rate balloon to a whopping 21.1%, an issue that hurt him both in Coors Field and Petco Park.
[Updated Padres depth chart at Roster Resource]
It’s worth noting that the Rockies exclusively used Lyles out of the pen over his 33 appearances in 2017 (and for 35 of his 40 games in 2016), while the Padres used Lyles only as a starter. Lyles’ MLB contract will ensure that he gets a shot at competing for a rotation job in Spring Training, though the Padres may also deploy him as a long man in the bullpen.
Despite his unimpressive numbers last year, the Padres clearly saw enough in Lyles to give him a big league deal, and it’s a fairly low-risk bet by the team that Lyles still has some untapped potential. He only just turned 27 in October, and Lyles does carry a pedigree as both a supplemental first-round pick in the 2008 draft and as a top-100 ranked prospect in his days in the Astros’ farm system.
It was just last February that Wood signed a two-year, $12MM (with an $8MM mutual option for 2019) contract with the Royals, with K.C. looking to reinforce its pitching depth by adding Wood as an option out of the rotation or bullpen. In either role, however, Wood badly struggled, posting a 6.91 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 1.45 K/BB rate over 41 2/3 innings in a Royals uniform. Wood was dealt to the Padres as part of a six-player trade in July and he posted virtually identical numbers over 52 1/3 IP for San Diego, all of which came as a starting pitcher. Never a hard-thrower or a big strikeout-generator, Wood had traditionally found success by dominating left-handed batters or inducing a large number of infield pop-ups, though both skills seemed to evaporate for him in 2017.
The Royals are on the hook for Wood’s $6.5MM salary in 2018, and the $1.5MM buyout of his option will be split between the Royals and whichever team may next acquire his services. While his advanced metrics didn’t always reflect his on-field results, Wood posted good numbers out of the Cubs’ bullpen in 2015-16, so it seems like that teams in search of southpaw bullpen help will certainly consider him as a rebound candidate.