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The San Diego Padres have signed right-hander Michael Wacha a complicated one-year contract, the team announced Thursday. The deal includes a three-year player option and a two-year club option.

Here is the contract breakdown (via The Athletic):

  • $4 million salary and $3.5 million signing bonus in 2023
  • After 2023, Padres can exercise a two-year club option worth $32 million total
  • If the Padres decline the club option, Wacha can exercise a three-year player option worth $18.5 million

Wacha, 31, had a really nice bounce-back season in 2022. After seven mostly-productive seasons with the Cardinals, Wacha pitched for the Mets in 2020 and Rays in 2021 and was 4-9 with a 5.39 ERA in those two seasons combined. Last year for the Red Sox, however, Wacha was 11-2 with a 3.32 ERA (127 ERA+), 1.12 WHIP and 104 strikeouts in 127 1/3 innings. Part of the turn might've been increased sinker useage at the expense of his cutter and fastball. 

The Padres appeared to have a full rotation before this signing, but this shores up some needed depth. Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell are the three frontline arms. Then it's Nick Martinez, Seth Lugo, Wacha and Adrián Morejón. 

Martinez was moved to the bullpen from the rotation last season and was nearly two runs better, by ERA, in relief. Lugo hasn't started since 2020 and has a career 4.35 ERA in that role, versus 2.91 out of the bullpen. Morejón, coming off Tommy John surgery, appeared in 26 games last season, all in relief. 

This isn't to say none of those three would be productive in the rotation for a full season. At least one of them and maybe two are capable of having good enough seasons to stick. 

It is to say that Wacha seems like the easy pick to slot as the number four starter while letting the other three battle it out for the fifth starter job.