Right-hander Jose Espada signed with the Yakult Swallows of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, he announced on X over the weekend. Espada had signed a minor league deal with the Padres in late November before being granted his release last week.
Espada, 27 in February, made his major league debut in the season’s final week. The Padres added him to the 40-man roster at the end of September. He pitched once, throwing a scoreless inning to punctuate a victory over the Cardinals. He struck out a pair while issuing two walks.
While he has only received that cup of coffee at the highest level, Espada has been in the professional ranks since 2015. He spent time in the Red Sox and Blue Jays organizations before joining the Padres out of independent ball in 2022. The Puerto Rico native had his strongest season this year. Working in a multi-inning capacity, he combined for a 2.81 ERA in 83 1/3 frames between Double-A and Triple-A. Espada fanned an excellent 32.3% of opponents in the minors, although he paired that with a notable 12.5% walk rate.
San Diego was impressed enough with his minor league performance they were prepared to keep him around as non-roster depth going into 2024. The NPB opportunity affords Espada a chance to lock in a salary that’s surely above what he’d have made if he’d spent much or all of next season at Triple-A El Paso. He’ll get a look in what is generally viewed as the world’s second-highest level of professional baseball.