SAN DIEGO – At long last, Matt Wisler is going to be a San Diego Padre.
General manager A.J. Preller once again swung a trade involving the 26-year-old right-hander, acquiring him from the Reds for Minor League pitcher Diomar Lopez on Monday. Wisler is out of Minor League options and was designated for assignment by Cincinnati last week.
The former Padres Draft pick is expected to fill a versatile bullpen role in San Diego. He will report to the team within the next couple days, and the Friars will make a corresponding move then.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster and 25-man roster if he was on that, as well. Within seven days of the transaction -- it was previously 10 days -- the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
Wisler was selected in the seventh round of the 2011 Draft, and he spent parts of four seasons in the San Diego system. On the eve of the '15 campaign, Wisler was sent to Atlanta as part of the Padres' package for Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr.
In four big league seasons since the trade, Wisler has posted a 5.14 ERA in 85 games, including 49 starts. Last summer, Wisler was dealt to Cincinnati in the deal sending Adam Duvall to Atlanta. He pitched exclusively out of the ’pen for the Reds, and he'll do the same in San Diego -- though the Padres think it's valuable that he has experience in a starting capacity.
"He's a strike thrower," Preller said. "He's done a lot of different things. He's been a starter, and a lot of times, starters going to a different role is where some of the best 'pen pieces come, anyway. He's got experience doing everything. We know him, we're familiar with him, and we're familiar with his stuff."
Expect Wisler to serve as something of a right-handed version of Robbie Erlin. He might pitch in short bursts, and he might pitch in longer stints. But his ability to handle both is what's most appealing.
"We've been very cognizant of that," Preller said. "With a younger staff, it's important to have a guy who can give us some versatility from a role standpoint and from an innings standpoint."
Padres mourn Booker
Former Padres reliever and pitching coach Greg Booker passed away on Sunday after a long battle with melanoma. He was 58.
Booker spent eight seasons in the big leagues from 1983-90, including parts of the first seven with the Padres. In 161 career appearances, he posted a 3.89 ERA, and he was an important cog in the bullpen of the '84 club, which won the franchise's first National League pennant.
Booker was the son-in-law of former Padres general manager Jack McKeon, and he was even traded by McKeon once. He later served as pitching coach in San Diego before Darren Balsley took over in 2003.
• Right-hander Bryan Mitchell has cleared waivers and will report to Triple-A El Paso to start the year. Mitchell struggled last season, his first as a Padre, and he was designated for assignment last week after missing out on the Opening Day roster.
"His future will be what he makes of it," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Go pitch well, and he'll have an opportunity to pitch his way back into the big leagues. It was an arm we hoped would stay in the organization."
The Padres are still settling on a path for Mitchell. They acquired him as a starter at the 2017 Winter Meetings, but he also has spent significant time pitching as a long man out of the 'pen.
• Speaking of Preller’s past trades involving Kimbrel: Javy Guerra, a one-time top prospect at short, will begin a transition to the mound this year. Guerra -- who arrived in the four-player package the Padres received when they sent Kimbrel to Boston after the 2015 season -- simply hasn't been good enough at the plate. Despite his excellent glove, the Padres decided to experiment with his elite arm strength by converting him into a pitcher. There's no timetable for when he might pitch in games at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore.
"He's got an electric arm," Green said. "Everybody knows that who's watched him play shortstop. He's going to have an opportunity to develop that skill set and see what happens. Right now, it's probably too early to have an expectation level."