Over the offseason, the San Diego Padres traded Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds. You might've thought that, in so doing, the Padres lost their only excellent starter. You'd be wrong, because the Padres still had Cory Luebke.
Coming almost out of nowhere, Luebke started 17 times for the Padres in 2011. He had a 3.31 ERA, and more significantly, he had 111 strikeouts to go with 29 walks in 100 innings. His numbers were fantastic, even after accounting for Petco, and Luebke established himself as a big part of the present and future.
Friday, the Padres recognized Luebke's importance and inked him for a good while:
GM Josh Byrnes announces #Padres agree with lefty Cory Luebke on a contract through the 2015 season with club options for 2016 and 2017— San Diego Padres (@Padres) March 31, 2012
Luebke was under team control through 2016. Now the Padres have an option for his first year of free agency. Luebke's guaranteed $12 million, and here's the complete breakdown:
#Padres Luebke: $500k bonus, $500k in '12, $1m in '13, $3m in '14, $5.25 in '15, $7.5 in '16 (club option), $10m in 2017 (club option).— Follow The Padres (@FollowThePadres) March 31, 2012
The Kansas City Royals have gotten a lot of attention for giving long contracts to Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar, and Alex Gordon. But the Padres have been right there, too, giving long contracts to Luebke, Nick Hundley, and Cameron Maybin. Everything the Padres do is quiet, like a mouse in baseball's attic, but the Padres right now are quietly building something substantial. They're an organization on the rise and they see Luebke as a big contributor going forward, so they've made a considerable commitment. It might blow up in their faces, but if Luebke pitches the way he did in 2011, this'll look like a hell of a steal.