Padres notes: Joe Musgrove still considering long-term deal in San Diego; CJ Abrams continues to impress

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Joe Musgrove and the Padres agreed to a one-year, $8.625 million contract for the 2022 season on Tuesday, avoiding arbitration. The two sides have yet to discuss a long-term deal to keep the San Diegan native in his hometown beyond this season, though that door remains wide open when it comes to Musgrove.

“It was on my mind,” Musgrove said after allowing two runs in three innings on his Cactus League debut in a 6-1 loss to the Guardians. “I don’t know if they thought about it… but it’s a place where I come from and I love playing here. And especially with the caliber of the team it is now, it’s definitely somewhere I’d like to stay for a while. It hasn’t been approached or presented to me yet, but it’s something (I’ve) thought about.

The Padres have also, with president of baseball operations AJ Preller, indicating that those discussions were on his to-do list at GM meetings in November.

The ensuing owners’ lockout, however, has prevented the two sides from discussing anything for the past several months and Preller’s goal since reopening baseball for business has been squarely to improve the range within the parameters of the $230 million luxury tax.

As of Tuesday, the Padres have about $6 million to play, a potential complication if the team actually wants to keep Musgrove from becoming a postseason free agent.

Given that the luxury tax represents the average annual value of a contract, even a deferred deal would likely push Musgrove’s luxury tax figure beyond the salary the two sides agreed to on Tuesday. Fernando Tatis Jr., for example, will earn $5 million this year, but his 14-year, $340 million contract counts for about $24.3 million against the luxury tax.

The reasons for keeping Musgrove long-term are pretty obvious.

In addition to running the first no-hitter in franchise history, the 29-year-old right-hander in 2021 set career highs in innings pitched (181 1/3), strikeouts (203) and the ERA (3.18), all the best from last year. Staff. His WHIP of 1.08 was the sixth lowest in franchise history and his strikeout rate (10.1 per nine innings) was the second best in franchise history, behind Yu Darvish (10 ,8).

So it’s no coincidence that Padres manager Bob Melvin shortened the start of Opening Day on April 7 to Darvish or Musgrove.

It’s an honor Musgrove would revere too, but it’s not a priority.

“I started opening day in Pittsburgh and that happened in the 2020 season, so I didn’t get the real effect and feel of having an opening day with a box office crowd. closed and the flyover and all that,” Musgrove said. “So yeah, I’d love to experience that with the whole crowd…but that’s by no means one of my goals. … I try to see it as having five aces and whatever day you take the ball, you’re the guy who’s in charge of getting the job done.

To that end, Musgrove threw 35 of his 58 pitches for strikes on Tuesday. The two runs he allowed went through the plate in the second inning as he allowed three straight hits with two outs on two doubles and a single. He struck out two batters, walked none and mostly felt strong as he began his build-up for a season that begins in just over two weeks.

“I feel really good,” Musgrove said. “I still felt strong at the end of the three runs. Just finding the exit point on these extended locations versus in-zone locations is kind of the next step for me, but I like where I’m at.

Right or stupid?

Another start for CJ Abrams, another hit for the 21-year-old infielder, though his most impressive swing didn’t show up in the box score.

Abrams’ first swing against Guardians big leaguer Zach Plesac resulted in a long ball to the right field foul line. The referee team ruled the ball foul, but Melvin thought otherwise and wasn’t afraid to show his disapproval, even in a spring training game.

” It was right ; I promise you it was fair,” Melvin said. “…It’s not above the foul post. It was round the foul pole completely. It was just all the way. It’s going to happen sometimes in spring training. I got a little animated. But I pull hard for the kid, because he breaks his ass. It’s a home run. Either way, he gets another hit again. Play with a lot of energy. It’s impressive to see him there against good pitchers early in the game and he’s having success.

Abrams leads the Padres this spring with two home runs and five hits on 11 at-bats (1,455 OPS).

Good with “ghosts”

As Melvin had hoped, MLB and the players’ union agreed to expand the rosters to 28 in April to help facilitate shortened spring training. Both teams also agreed to reinstate the use of “ghost runners” at second base at the start of extra innings.

That too is all good in Melvin’s book.

“I like it because we’ve had success with it more than anything,” Melvin said with a laugh, and he’s right — his Athletics were 14-4 in extra innings the past two years.

Melvin added: “You know, the last thing you really want is 15 and 16 inning games. I mean, if you’re a purist, I get it (not liking it). I’m a bit of a purist, but when you have a game like that, especially if you lose, your bullpen is taxed for so long after that, so I’m okay with that.

Notable

  • In addition to Musgrove, the Padres avoided arbitration with new DH Luke Voit ($5.45 million), RHP Dinelson Lamet ($4.775 million) and C Victor Caratini ($2 million). It was not immediately clear whether the Padres had reached any deals with RHP Chris Paddack or C Jorge Alfaro before Tuesday’s deadline to swap numbers.

Writer Kevin Acee contributed to this report.

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