SAN DIEGO — Padres pitcher Mike Clevinger will miss the 2021 season because of Tommy John surgery, the team announced Monday after reaching an agreement with the right-hander on a two-year, $11.5 million contract.
San Diego said Clevinger’s surgery is scheduled for Tuesday.
The Padres acquired Clevinger on Aug. 31 in a blockbuster trade with Cleveland in hopes of him leading the Padres deep into the playoffs. Instead, he exited his final start of the regular season with what was later described as an elbow impingement.
Clevinger missed the wild-card series against the St. Louis Cardinals, which San Diego won in three games, and was removed in the second inning of the National League Division Series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers after his velocity dipped dramatically. The Padres were swept by the Dodgers.
The Padres hoped Clevinger would be able to avoid surgery. General manager A.J. Preller said Clevinger met with a number of doctors and had multiple MRIs in the weeks after the season ended.
“Ultimately, everybody was in agreement that rather than trying to kind of piece it together and get through the next season, I think he felt like, ‘I want to go ahead and get this taken care of and have the procedure and push toward the 2022 season,'” Preller said.
“Each week kind of felt like it was a little bit different. We were optimistic at various points of time in the process, especially earlier in the process when the season ended. As we kind of went through the rehab process the last few weeks and he wasn’t getting drastically better, he felt like the surgery was the best route,” Preller said.
Clevinger was 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in four starts with San Diego after going 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA with Cleveland in the pandemic-shortened season. He had Tommy John surgery in 2012, when he was a minor leaguer. He turns 30 on Dec. 21.
Dinelson Lamet, who finished fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting, also suffered an elbow injury in his final regular-season start and missed the postseason.
Clevinger’s new deal replaces his two remaining seasons of arbitration eligibility and includes deferments and performance bonuses.
A right-hander who turns 30 on Dec. 21, Clevinger gets a $3 million signing bonus that is deferred, with $1.5 million payable on Dec. 1, 2021, and the remainder on Dec. 1, 2022. Clevinger gets salaries of $2 million next season and $6.5 million in 2022 and can earn $500,000 in performance bonuses based on starts as a pitcher in 2022: $250,000 each for five and 10 starts. The bonus payments would be deferred to Jan. 15, 2023, in the deal negotiated by agents Sam and Seth Levinson.
Clevinger earned a $1,518,519 prorated share of his $4.1 million salary this year. He is 44-23 with a 3.19 ERA in five major league seasons.
Preller said the Padres acquired Clevinger with three pennant races in mind, though they got very little out of him this year and won’t have him available if they return to the playoffs next year. Preller said the Padres were able to offer a reduced salary for 2021 while increasing his pay in 2022.
“He kind of fell in love with the city and the team, and he wants to be here,” Preller said. “I think everybody kind of looked at today as a common sense standpoint: This is what’s important to the Padres, this is what’s important to Mike, and we wind up with a two-year deal.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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