FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Padres and left-hander Eric Stults have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $2.75 million contract.
This is the first major payday for Stults, who has thrived since he was claimed off waivers from the White Sox in May of 2012, posting a 3.62 ERA over 47 starts and four relief appearances. The 33-year-old southpaw threw a career-high 203 2/3 innings this past season.
Stults is far from dominant, but he throws strikes and should do well enough as a backend starter as long as he calls PETCO Park home. As of now, he projects to enter 2014 with a rotation spot alongside Andrew Cashner, Josh Johnson, Ian Kennedy, and Tyson Ross, but that could change in the weeks ahead. Over the weekend, Bill Center of UT-San Diego speculated that the Padres could potentially deal Stults, Burch Smith, or Robbie Erlin to upgrade in other areas.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.