Padres reacquire Enyel De Los Santos amid a few payroll-shedding moves

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The San Diego Padres on Friday shed close to $11 million in payroll, executing a swap of relievers while non-tendering a pair of veterans.

Scott Barlow, projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $7.1 million in his final year before free agency, was traded to the Cleveland Guardians for Enyel De Los Santos, who stands to make about $1.2 million in his first arbitration-eligible season. The Padres also cut loose lefty reliever Tim Hill (projected $2.4 million) and catcher Austin Nola ($2.35 million).

FanGraphs estimated the moves lowered San Diego’s projected payroll to $188 million — some $12 million below what team officials have indicated is a rough target for Opening Day. The Padres, who ended last season at around $255 million, seek to complement their nucleus of high-paid stars with a less expensive group of supporting players.

The arrival of De Los Santos and his three remaining years of club control brought the latest evidence of that approach. It also marked a return; De Los Santos spent two years in the Padres’ farm system before being traded in late 2017 to the Philadelphia Phillies for shortstop Freddy Galvis.

De Los Santos had since recorded a 4.20 ERA in parts of five big-league seasons, including a 3.18 ERA between 2022 and 2023 with Cleveland. The righty represents a cheaper, more controllable option than Barlow, a former Kansas City Royals closer who joined the Padres last summer in a trade-deadline deal and proceeded to log a 3.07 ERA in 25 appearances.

De Los Santos, who turns 28 next month, is less proven than Barlow, especially in high-leverage situations. A Padres club that recently lost star closer Josh Hader to free agency intends to test the new acquisition.

“We’ll see how the ’pen plays out over the course of the next few months,” Padres president of baseball operations A.J. Preller said Friday night. “But just knowing that he’s been able to take the ball, be durable, fill in a couple of different roles, especially in that setup role, I think we’ll get into spring training and he’ll be able to factor in there. Somewhere seven, eight, nine, honestly.”

Last season with Cleveland, De Los Santos made 70 appearances while averaging 95.6 mph with his fastball. He has never been on the injured list in his career.

Hill and Nola, conversely, spent much of 2023 on the sidelines. Hill, who logged a career-worst 5.48 ERA, had his season ended in September by finger surgery. Nola, another 33-year-old, never gained any traction after suffering a broken nose in spring training; the catcher managed only a .452 OPS, received a July demotion to Triple A and was later diagnosed with a vision disorder.

The Padres on Friday also non-tendered outfielder Taylor Kohlwey and reliever Jose Espada. Both players made their big-league debuts this summer but did not show enough to stick on the roster.

A team source said the Padres did not consider non-tendering Trent Grisham, in part because the center fielder already has drawn trade attention this offseason. Grisham, who is coming off his consecutive sub-.200 seasons on offense, could be due about $5 million in his second season of arbitration. The 27-year-old has retained some value through strong defense, and the free-agent market for outfielders is relatively thin.

While finding a taker for Grisham could be among the Padres’ primary tasks ahead of the winter meetings in early December, the team intends to hire a new manager next week. That process was temporarily halted following the death of Padres chairman Peter Seidler on Tuesday.

(Photo of Enyel De Los Santos: Ken Blaze / USA Today)

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