Last year the Dodgers surprisingly tabbed Vicente Padilla as their Opening Day starter, but this year he’s not even slated for a spot in the rotation after re-signing for $2 million in guaranteed money.
Padilla can also earn a ton of money in incentives, as his contract includes up to $8 million in bonuses tied to starting and $6.8 million in bonuses tied to relieving. And as Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times writes, Padilla may end up filling just about every role on the pitching staff at some point.
Padilla has made a grand total of one relief appearance since 2001, but made it clear that he’s willing to pitch wherever and whenever:
If I start, I start. If I relieve, I relieve. It’s all the same, no? You’re just throwing a ball.
New manager Don Mattingly said that Padilla will work out with the starters early in camp before transitioning into a bullpen role as long as none of the five starters ahead of him on the depth chart have any injury issues. Padilla has had injury problems of his own, missing much of last season with a strained forearm and bulging disk in his back, but when healthy has posted a 4.49 ERA in 70 starts during the past three seasons.
He’d be the third starter on a lot of teams, which speaks to the Dodgers’ pitching depth after re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and Ted Lilly and adding free agents Jon Garland and Matt Guerrier.