SAN DIEGO -- Drew Pomeranz has already revitalized his career in San Diego once.
Now, the 31-year-old left-hander is back with the Padres, and he's looking to do so again -- this time in the bullpen.
San Diego finalized a four-year deal with the free-agent left-hander on Wednesday evening. The contract is worth $34 million, a source told MLB.com, with Pomeranz owed $4 million in 2020, $6 million in ’21, $8 million in ’22 and ’23, and an $8 million signing bonus.
Pomeranz has moved between the bullpen and the rotation in the past, but he’s expected to pitch exclusively in relief in San Diego. He posted a 4.85 ERA last season between San Francisco and Milwaukee -- but that includes a 1.88 ERA in 28 relief appearances.
“We see him as a guy that can pitch at the back end and pair with [closer Kirby] Yates to give us a really top-notch combination, right- and left-handed,” said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. “Obviously the quality of what he did during the last few months [had an impact]. We're clearly buying into him as a guy that can be part of a dynamic back of the bullpen.”
Over nine big league seasons, Pomeranz owns a 4.04 ERA, but he's taken an up-and-down path to get there. He used his 12-to-6 curveball to great success with the Padres in 2016, when he was an All-Star before being dealt to Boston ahead of the Trade Deadline.
Pomeranz posted a 2.47 ERA in 17 starts for the Padres in 2016, and he finished that year at 3.32. In 2017, Pomeranz posted the exact same 3.32 mark in his first full season with Boston. But his ERA ballooned to 5.36 over the past two seasons -- split among Boston, San Francisco and Milwaukee.
There's still plenty to like in Pomeranz's stuff. His fastball velocity -- after a dip in 2018 -- remains in the low-to-mid 90s. His curveball, meanwhile, is still his top put-away pitch. Both pitches played up after he moved to the bullpen.
“He simplified his repertoire,” Preller said of Pomeranz’s performance in relief. “He went to the fastball-curveball combo, and those have been good pitches for him. The fastball went to a different gear ... and the curveball's always been a big weapon.”
Pedro Avila, a 22-year-old right-hander coming off Tommy John surgery in September, was designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster.
Pomeranz helps fill out a bullpen that now boasts a handful of formidable left-handed options. José Castillo is expected back from injury, and Matt Strahm has been similarly dominant in the bullpen.
With that trio of lefties alongside Yates and hard-throwing right-hander Andres Munoz, the Padres clearly view their bullpen as a strength in 2020.