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01/19/11 6:30 PM EST
Padres bolster bullpen with Qualls
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- After jettisoning four relievers over two trades this offseason, the Padres added a piece to their bullpen on Wednesday when they signed right-hander Chad Qualls to a one-year deal with an option for 2012. The deal is worth a guaranteed $2.55 million, including $1.5 million this season and a $1.05 million buyout. Qualls, 32, comes to the Padres with a career ERA of 3.82 over seven seasons with the Astros and D-backs. Qualls split last season between Arizona and Tampa Bay, compiling a 7.32 ERA in 70 games. He began the 2010 as the closer for the D-backs but was traded to the Rays on July 31 after posting an 8.29 ERA in 38 innings with four blown saves. Qualls was 2-0 with a 5.57 ERA and three blown saves in 27 appearances following the trade and became a free agent this winter. The Padres, who landed outfielder Cameron Maybin and shortstop Jason Bartlett in two deals that saw them lose relievers Ryan Webb, Edward Mujica, Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell, wanted another reliever to add to their bullpen mix. The Padres were able to keep their core trio of relievers, Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams and two-time All-Star closer Heath Bell, intact throughout the winter. Qualls will likely be used as a setup man for the trio of Gregerson, Adams and Bell. Qualls had 24 saves and a 3.63 ERA in 2009 for the D-backs. Prior to the 2010 season, he had 3.32 career ERA in four seasons with the Astros and two with the D-backs. Qualls certainly wouldn't be the first pitcher to sign with the Padres looking for a bounce-back performance in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the Major Leagues. In fact, earlier this winter, the Padres signed Aaron Harang to a one-year contract hoping he can return to form following a tough 2010 season.