Padres general manager A.J. Preller didn’t have to look far, or lobby all that hard, to land his latest free agent.
Right-hander Craig Stammen finalized his return to the Padres on Friday with a two-year deal worth a guaranteed $9 million. The contract includes a team option for 2022, along with multiple performance bonuses.
“I’m going to keep trying to build on the previous three years,” Stammen said, “to try to help make this into a winning organization. This team is right on the cusp of being a playoff contender.”
Left-hander Nick Margevicius, who posted a 6.79 ERA in 17 appearances last season, was designated for assignment to clear space on the 40-man roster.
Stammen, who will turn 36 in March, first joined the Padres as a free agent in December 2016. He has averaged 70 appearances a year in his three seasons in San Diego while posting a 3.06 ERA in that span. He is one of seven pitchers who have made at least 70 appearances in each of the past two seasons.
Stammen was the primary setup reliever for All-Star closer Kirby Yates in 2019, a role more likely to fall to Pomeranz in '20.
“I’m sure there will probably be a change in roles,” Stammen said. “But it’s the people that get outs who wind up getting the ball. I’m going to continue going out there to get outs. I think we’ve got a great bullpen, and I’m looking forward to being part of it.”
Stammen said it was “an easy decision” to return to San Diego. He wasn’t deterred by the Padres’ earlier free-agent signings. The front office indicated before he became a free agent that he was wanted back, and discussions never wavered during the offseason. Another plus, Stammen said, came when new Padres manager Jayce Tingler reached out.
“I think that’s the kind of guy Jayce Tingler is,” Stammen said. “At that time, I was a free agent, so he wasn’t really my manager. But he called out of the blue to get to know me.”
Stammen returns to a Padres bullpen that ranked in the upper half in the Majors in strikeouts (1,475, 11th), opponents’ batting average (.251, t-13th), opponents’ OBP (.315, 10th), opponents’ slugging (.430, 15th) and opponents’ OPS (.744, 12th).
“It was fun to watch how hard they could throw,” Stammen said. “I’m excited to continue to be with those guys, to share a few things, to enhance their careers and make them better, to try to win a World Series together.”