SAN DIEGO -- Last month, the Padres removed most of the suspense from Friday's deadline to tender contracts when they cut ties with a trio of arbitration-eligible players.
Of the six remaining arbitration-eligible Padres, Brad Hand, Carter Capps, Kirby Yates, Cory Spangenberg and Matthew Szczur were all tendered contracts Friday. They must come to an agreement with the club on their 2018 salary or they will head to arbitration.
Meanwhile, left-hander Robbie Erlin agreed to terms with San Diego on a 2018 deal, though specifics were not divulged. Erlin missed the '17 season because of Tommy John surgery and has posted a 4.54 ERA in parts of four seasons with the Padres.
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In effect, San Diego made its decisions a month early by parting with catcher Hector Sanchez and starters Christian Friedrich and Jarred Cosart. All three elected free agency after clearing waivers. Those moves allowed San Diego to add relief prospects Brad Wieck and Jose Castillo to the 40-man roster, protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft.
Of the arbitration-eligible Padres, Capps was the only minor question mark. He returned from Tommy John surgery in 2017 and struggled to grasp his new mechanics. In September, Capps was shut down after being diagnosed with a blood clot, and he later underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
Still, the Padres' decision-makers are high on Capps, who is arbitration eligible for the second time after earning $987,500 last season. The club expects him to be healthy for Spring Training, and if the right-hander regains his form from 2015 in Miami -- when he posted a 1.16 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 31 innings -- his contract will be a bargain.
Fellow reliever Hand is the only other Padre in year two of arbitration. His case figures to be the most intriguing -- mainly because he'll be the subject of plenty of trade chatter.
Hand, coming off consecutive excellent seasons in San Diego, might be the best reliever available on the trade market. He posted a 2.16 ERA and earned an All-Star berth in 2017, striking out 104 in 79 1/3 innings. Hand made $1.37 million in 2017 and could be slated for a sizable raise this offseason.
Both Hand and Capps are 27 years old and slated to become free agents after the 2019 season.
Spangenberg, Yates, Szczur and Erlin entered arbitration eligibility for the first time this offseason.