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MLB San Diego Padres

San Diego Padres Extend Cory Luebke For $27.75 Million

Continuing the trend of extending pitchers with little MLB experience, the San Diego Padres signed left handed starter Cory Luebke to a six year deal potentially worth $27.75 million. Luebke is guaranteed $12 million over the first 4 years, and the Padres hold club options for the final two seasons. Luebke isn’t a very well known pitcher, so the question is did the Padres rush to pay the right guy? Let’s take a look.

Cory Luebke was drafted in the supplemental first round (63rd overall) in 2007. He was a compensation pick for Alan Embree, a reliever who threw one good season with the Padres as a 36 year old. The Padres can thank the Elias compensation system for Luebke, as relievers like Embree were overvalued and the result earned the Padres a pick in the first round. And they made an excellent selection, as Luebke has turned into a fantastic pitcher. Luebke throws in the low 90′s, and relies primarily on his fastball and his slider. He split the year in the bullpen and the rotation, and was equally effective in both roles.

As a pitcher in Petco, most would assume that Luebke is just getting lucky. After all, he was a 26 year old posting a 3.29 ERA in his first full season with the Padres. However, this was no fluke, as Luebke struck out nearly 10 batters per 9 innings while walking just under 3 per 9. With those kind of numbers, Luebke would be successful anywhere.

In 2011 Luebke posted a 3.29 ERA (2.93 FIP) over 17 starts and 29 relief appearances. This is a fantastic deal for the Padres, as Luebke is a dynamic pitcher who can potentially be the ace of this rotation. It’s a good investment to sign him now, as with more experience he could have commanded a significantly larger salary. While this deal carries some risk, it looks like the Padres have accurately determined that Luebke will be a key player in their team going forward, and they’ve made a move to lock him up for the future. While they only bought out one year of free agency, the cost certainty alone makes it a win for the Padres. And for a guy with Luebke who has just over a year in service time, it’s a guaranteed salary in case he injures himself or is never as effective as he was in 2011. A rare win for both sides.