Padres bullpen still strong despite trades

Padres bullpen still strong despite trades

PEORIA, Ariz. -- In two trades this winter, the Padres parted with five pitchers in order to land shortstop Jason Bartlett from the Rays and center fielder Cameron Maybin from the Marlins.

The most notable losses were relievers Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica, who went to the Marlins. Webb and Mujica were important contributors to statistically the best bullpen in the Major Leagues last season.

Webb and Mujica combined for 113 appearances and 128 2/3 innings, meaning that the Padres will have to replace those innings somehow, which is something they will work on during Spring Training.

How much of a concern is this to manager Bud Black?

"I think we're going to be fine," Black said. "We lost some guys who threw some Major League innings for us. These guys [in the front office] have replaced the guys we lost.

"I don't view that as being a vulnerable area."

The Padres thought highly of Webb, who some think might develop into a capable setup pitcher or possibly a closer in the future. But the Padres placed an importance this winter on being stronger up the middle, and Bartlett and Maybin fit what they were looking for.

The team dealt from an organizational strength and were able to upgrade themselves up the middle with Bartlett and Maybin without disrupting the back end of their bullpen.

Who will replace Webb and Mujica?

The Padres have added veteran Chad Qualls, who figures to earn a spot in the bullpen. He had a rough season with the D-backs and Rays last season but has a 3.82 ERA during his career. The team also thinks highly of Ernesto Frieri, who could have a more important role in the bullpen after posting a 1.71 ERA in 33 appearances last season.

The team also signed Dustin Moseley, who is a candidate for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, though he could fit just as well in the bullpen as a long reliever. George Kontos, a Rule 5 Draft pickup from the Yankees, is in the bullpen mix as well.

Returning in the bullpen are closer Heath Bell, Mike Adams, Luke Gregerson and left-handed specialist Joe Thatcher. The Padres relievers led the Major Leagues last season with a 2.78 ERA, with Gregerson, Adams and Bell providing a dominant 1-2-3 punch over the last three innings.

"The biggest thing is that we had depth, even in Triple-A, where we could afford to make those moves," Gregerson said. "I think we'll be just as good in the bullpen and I think we'll be even better on the field because of those trades."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.