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Padres sign Nick Hundley long term, block prospect Yasmani Grandal’s path to the majors

Mar 20, 2012, 4:48 PM EST

Nick Hundley

Nick Hundley and the Padres have agreed to a multi-year contract that covers 2013 and 2014 while including a team option for 2015.

Hundley was already signed for $2 million this season and under team control through 2014 via the arbitration process, so the Padres will pre-pay for two seasons of arbitration eligibility in exchange for some cost certainty and the option of buying out his first year of free agency.

Hundley has had trouble staying healthy, playing fewer than 90 games in each of his four seasons, but the 28-year-old hit .288 with a .347 on-base percentage and .477 slugging percentage in 82 games last season and has thrown out 28 percent of steal attempts for his career.

Prior to last season’s .824 OPS his career mark was just .699, so committing to Hundley rather than going year-to-year via arbitration is certainly a risk. However, he’s a rare player who actually thrives in the majors’ most pitcher-friendly ballpark, as Hundley has hit .271 with an .818 OPS at Petco Park compared to .240 with a .657 OPS on the road. Those splits are tough to explain and probably aren’t sustainable, but either way he’s a solid-hitting catcher with decent defensive chops and the Padres now have him locked up through age 31.

Now that Hundley is signed long term it’ll be interesting to see what the Padres do with catching prospect Yasmani Grandal, who was acquired from the Reds in the Mat Latos trade and ranks as the No. 53 prospect in the majors according Baseball America. Grandal is 23 years old and figures to begin this season at Triple-A, so he’ll be MLB-ready long before Hundley’s deal expires.

UPDATE: Corey Brock of MLB.com has the breakdown of Hundley’s deal. He’ll get $3 million in 2013 and $4 million in 2014, and the 2015 option is for $5 million. Cheap enough that he could be traded or perhaps even move into a backup role once Grandal arrives, maybe.

  1. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Considering how important catching depth is *cough*Royals*cough*, this was a very sensible extension.

  2. icanspeel - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    It hardly blocks Grandal. If anything it gives Grandal some time to ease into the roll instead of being expected to start and produce right away. It’s good to have 2 solid catchers on the team, esp if the injury bug hits

    • vanmorrissey - Mar 20, 2012 at 6:53 PM

      Especially since Hundley, as with most catchers, is injury prone. And agreed, Grandal will be up with the big club by next year with Hundley, who will probably get traded within two years. Grandal is a prospect to watch so in case he doesn’t pan out he’ll get traded. It happens.

  3. bbscribe - Mar 20, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    On the contrary, this makes it much easy for the cheapo Padres to trade Hundley, who is just beginning to establish some decent value, and elevate Grandal, who may well be a better talent than Hundley.

    Kevin Towers gave Jake Peavy a crazy contract and was able to find a buyer in Kenny Williams and the White Sox to bail the Padres out from under the contract for four young arms (‘highlighted’ by a mediocre Clayton Richard, now coming off shoulder surgery). Thus, a contract dumping by the Padres, who, last I heard, had the third lowest payroll in the bigs.

    Business as usual in San Diego.

  4. ch0psuey - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:22 AM

    Hundley really started off hot last year until he got injured, believe he was on the DL twice but started to get hot at end of year also after his last DL stint.

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