Rumors of a contract negotiations between starting pitcher Joe Musgrove and the San Diego Padres have been percolating for the last month, and those discussions bore fruit over the weekend: With a five-year, $100 million contract extension, the Padres have locked up their best and most dependable starter through the end of the 2027 season.
I discussed a possible Musgrove extension a couple of weeks ago, and not much has changed in the right-hander’s valuation since then, when ZiPS thought that a five year, $126 million contract would be fair for both sides. That makes landing Musgrove for $100 million a nice deal for the Friars, likely the result of some unknown combination of canniness, Musgrove’s comfort at the top of the rotation, and his stated desire to stay with his hometown team (Musgrove is from the San Diego area).
For Padres fans, it must be a relief to get this extension done — even when most of the factors suggest a deal can be reached, there’s no guarantee until there’s ink on the paper. Being from Baltimore, I think back on the acrimonious end to Mike Mussina‘s time in Charm City. Mussina had previously given the O’s a very good deal on a three-year, $21 million contract that bought out a year of free agency, but when he actually did hit the open market, the O’s basically underbid the Yankees, working on the assumption that a hometown discount would be permanently built into his contracts. That the second half of Moose’s Hall of Fame career came with the Yankees still makes me sad! ZiPS projects Musgrove as the best pitcher available in free agency — his projection edges out Carlos Rodón’s — and as with Mussina and the Yankees, all bets are off once the 29 other teams can bid on your franchise pitcher.
Signing Musgrove gives the Padres one less problem to worry about with their long-term rotation. The team still has Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea hitting free agency this winter, and Yu Darvish and Blake Snell after 2023. The extension also makes Musgrove a significant pitcher in the context of Padres history, especially if the deal works out. San Diego has had a franchise closer in Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, but has so far missed out on an equally great starter, one who makes the Hall of Fame or at least comes close. Eric Show remains the only Padre in team history to rack up 100 wins for the franchise, and no pitcher has accumulated 30 WAR while wearing mustard (we won’t talk about those blue uniforms). By comparison, the Royals, who debuted the same year as the Padres, have had six 100-win pitchers and five that passed the 30-WAR mark. The Expos/Nationals have had three in each category, and even the Pilots/Brewers have done slightly better.
If Musgrove meets his projections, he’ll stand at 88 Padres wins at the end of his contract and 25.8 WAR. That already would rank him as one of the team’s greats.
Best Padres Pitchers by WAR
That’s right, in more than a half-century, only 12 Padres pitchers have gotten to double-digit WAR.
With just over 24 hours until the trade deadline, the Padres have a lot of work ahead of them, even with their recent move to acquire Josh Hader. But solving one of the team’s pending offseason problems helps trim down their to-do list.