The Padres have announced agreement with free agent reliever Luis García on a two-year contract. It’s reportedly a $7MM guarantee.
The multi-year deal is a nice pull for García, who entered the 2021 campaign as a non-roster invitee with the Yankees. After failing to crack New York’s season-opening roster, he spent the first couple months of the season in Triple-A. García triggered an opt-out clause in that deal and landed a big league roster spot with the Cardinals in July.
The 34-year-old (35 in January) made the most of his half-season in St. Louis. He worked 33 1/3 innings of 3.24 ERA ball across 34 outings, earning his way into higher-leverage work by September. García fanned a slightly above-average 25.2% of opposing hitters while walking only 5.9% of batters faced. That was handily the best control he’s ever shown, as García typically walked batters at a higher than average rate during his time as an inconsistent middle innings option with the Phillies earlier in his career.
Even more impressive than his bottom line results were his pitch-by-pitch numbers. García generated swinging strikes on 14.9% of his offerings, a mark that’s more than three percentage points above the 11.7% league average for relievers. That’s largely on the strength of his slider, which opponents rather comically missed more than half the time they offered at it. That was his primary complement against right-handed hitters to a sinker that averaged greater than 98 MPH, while he also found plenty of success mixing in a split against lefty batters.
It remains to be seen whether García can sustain his half-season success moving forward — particularly the seeming strides he made with his control. It’s a fairly inexpensive gamble on a live arm for the Friars, with García having the opportunity to cement himself into the club’s late-innings mix. With previous closer Mark Melancon departing to join the division-rival Diamondbacks, Pierce Johnson, Tim Hill, Emilio Pagán and Austin Adams look to be the other top options for new skipper Bob Melvin.
Robert Murray of FanSided reported the agreement and its terms shortly before the official announcement.