Padres enhance bullpen with Mujica
Reliever acquired from Indians for future considerations
PEORIA, Ariz. -- It was about three weeks ago when San Diego general manager Kevin Towers took a look at the pitchers competing for jobs in the bullpen and decided that he was none too excited about the lot.
On Wednesday, the Padres added what figures to be the final piece to their bullpen when they traded for Cleveland reliever Ed Mujica. The Padres will send cash considerations or a player to be named to the Indians.
Mujica, who turns 25 in May, is a player the Padres have watched on several occasions in the spring, most recently on Monday in Goodyear when he got one out coming out of the bullpen against the Padres.
"He can touch 94 mph and is a fly-ball pitcher. We're trying to add as many good arms as we can," Towers said.
In the past three weeks alone, the Padres have acquired Duaner Sanchez (released by the Mets), Shawn Hill (released by the Nationals), Luke Gregerson (the player to be named in the Khaili Greene deal with the Cardinals) and Eulogio De La Cruz (in a trade with the Marlins).
All will make the 12-man staff, with Hill in the rotation. The Padres think Mujica can be the kind of late-inning specialist they've been looking for. Really, they have got a few of those types on the team now whereas three weeks ago they didn't.
"He throws a low-90s fastball, is a strike-thrower, has a slider and uses a split-finger as a secondary pitch. He closed some games for Cleveland last year. We think that he makes us better," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Mujica had an 8.10 ERA with the Indians this spring, though all reports are that he has performed better recently.
Mujica, who is out of Minor League options, has a live fastball and a career 3.35 ERA in the Minor Leagues with just 60 walks in 231 1/3 innings. He was 3-3 with a 6.04 ERA in 33 career games with the Indians.
Towers likes the arms in this bullpen, as everyone but Cla Meredith throws in the 90s. A year ago that wasn't the case.
"Last year, we didn't have guys who could strike out the side. We had guys who pitched to contact," Towers said.
The Padres weren't willing to divulge the seven relievers who have made the team but it is believed they are Heath Bell as closer, Meredith, Mujica, Sanchez, De La Cruz and two of their Minor Leaguers from a year ago, Edwin Moreno and Arturo Lopez. All but Lopez throw right-handed.
The Padres have run through several relief options this spring, including Rule 5 pickup Ivan Nova, since returned to the Yankees, and Chris Britton, whom Towers liked a lot in the offseason when he was signed as a non-roster invitee.
But Britton didn't pan out, Jae Kuk Ryu was claimed off waivers from Cleveland and later returned and released, Nova was returned to the Yankees and other relievers who saw time last season -- Joe Thatcher, Chad Reineke and Scott Patterson -- were sent to Minor League camp.
Only Meredith and Bell return in the bullpen from 2008. In all, the 12-man staff will have eight new members to begin the season.
Again, Towers like this group much more than the lot of relievers he presided over just three weeks ago.
"I knew we didn't have a bunch of locks [coming into camp]," Towers said.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.