Dodgers losing Seth Lugo to Padres feels like irresponsible free agent whiff

New York Mets v Washington Nationals
New York Mets v Washington Nationals / Rob Carr/GettyImages

The Seth Lugo free agency race was previously unclear due to a crowded market, but then we learned on Monday that it was down to the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres -- two of the NL's best teams.

And sadly, just like the NLDS, the Padres somehow came out on top. Yeah, we don't really get it either, since the Dodgers have a clear need for a cost-effective pitcher who can profile as a back-end starter or a high-leverage reliever.

Aren't these the exact types of deals Andrew Friedman looks for each and every offseason? He just spent $16+ million on Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney last year. He was willing to go $13 million for Noah Syndergaard.

He couldn't go two years and $15 million for Lugo, which is what the right-hander got with the Padres? The caveat here was that Lugo wanted to be a starter, which could've affected the negotiating, but the Dodgers still don't have an ironclad rotation.

There's room for him, especially since there are health concerns with all of Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May. Additionally, May might be better suited for the bullpen. Unless there's a bigger plan with the Dodgers utilizing their top pitching prospects in the rotation, missing out on Lugo feels like a gigantic loss now that he's with a division rival.

Why did the Dodgers let the Padres sign Seth Lugo?

Like Syndergaard said, everything the Dodgers touch turns to gold! Snagging Lugo at a $7.5 million AAV is the definition of a low-risk, high-reward investment. Could've turned that cubic zirconia into a diamond! If that happened for 2023, Lugo would've undoubtedly exercised his player option next offseason and the Dodgers would've rid themselves of another financial commitment.

Worst-case scenario? He opted in, they pay another $7.5 million, and either use him as a back-end starter or a late-inning reliever.

More importantly, though, stealing an asset from the Padres would've been crucial since the Dodgers are opting not to spend big this offseason. San Diego splurged on Xander Bogaerts and were in need of another starter to back Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell. They very much have an incomplete rotation right now, but Lugo brings them closer to a finished product.

If the Dodgers are worried about Trevor Bauer winning his appeal, then what's the hestitation about the luxury tax threshold? They're already at $211 million for the 2023 season. If Bauer's salary is owed to him, that'll take them into the $240 million range.

What's another $7.5 million at that point? Lugo was one of the last remaining assets that could be had without spending an unreasonable amount of money. Let's just hope the confidence in the current starting five and the prospects behind them is validated.

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