Tapia, 31, had some major league success in 2021, split between the Mariners and Royals. Between those two clubs, he tossed 33 2/3 innings over 34 appearances, registering a 2.67 ERA. His 19.3% strikeout rate and 11.1% walk rate were both a bit worse than league average, but he got grounders at a solid 46.8% rate.
In 2022, he was claimed off waivers by the A’s and spent the season being shuttled between the majors and minors. His Triple-A and MLB results could hardly have been more different, as he had a 1.76 ERA with Las Vegas and a mark of 8.47 for Oakland. This was likely a symptom of his low-strikeout approach, as he allowed a .387 batting average on balls in the play in the majors but a .276 rate with the Aviators. He also stranded 72.2% of baserunners with Vegas but just 62.2% with the A’s.
The Padres will take a chance that Tapia’s fortunes will change in 2023 or perhaps he can simply take his fate into his own hands by finding a few more strikeouts. His fastball averaged 97.9 mph last year, which cracked the 95th percentile among qualified hurlers, despite just a 13.3% strikeout rate. If Tapia can earn his way onto San Diego’s roster, he still has one option year remaining, allowing him to provide the club with some roster flexibility. He could also be cheaply retained into the future given that he has yet to crack one year of MLB service time.