The San Diego Padres are adding yet another pitcher to their rotation, agreeing to bring right-hander Joe Musgrove to his hometown team in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to a person familiar with the deal.
Another person confirmed the New York Mets were also involved in the trade, acquiring left-hander Joey Lucchesi from San Diego. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not been announced.
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Musgrove, who played at Grossmont High in suburban El Cajon, California, will join a rotation that includes Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, who were obtained in blockbuster trades after Christmas.
Musgrove will head from a Pirates team that had the worst record in the majors during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season to a Padres club that ended a 13-year playoff drought and believes it can contend for the World Series title.
Anchored by a star-studded infield with Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop and Manny Machado at third base, San Diego won a wild-card series against St. Louis before being swept out of the NL Division Series by the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, who went on to win the World Series.
The Pirates will get a number of prospects in return, including well-regarded outfielder Hudson Head.
Musgrove, Pittsburgh’s opening day starter in 2020, went 1-5 with a 3.86 ERA last season, striking out 55 in 39 2/3 innings. The 28-year-old made a pro-rated $1,037,037 of a $2.8 million salary, then avoided arbitration last week when he and the Pirates agreed to a $4.45 million salary for 2021. He can become a free agent after the 2022 season.
Musgrove won a World Series ring with Houston in 2017 before being sent to the Pirates in the trade that sent Gerrit Cole to the Astros in January 2018. Musgrove was the winning pitcher in Game 5 of the World Series against the Dodgers.
The Padres needed to beef up their rotation after running out of starters in the playoffs, and then losing Mike Clevinger to Tommy John surgery. Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet both came out of their final regular-season starts with elbow injuries. Clevinger came back for the NLDS opener, but his injury forced him out in the second inning of a 5-1 loss. Lamet missed the playoffs entirely but has avoided surgery.
The additions of Darvish, Snell, Musgrove and South Korean slugger Kim Ha-seong to a core of players led by Tatis and Machado are expected to make the Padres one of the best teams in the majors — perhaps good enough to end the Dodgers’ eight-year reign as NL West champions.
The Pirates hoped Musgrove would be part of a starting rotation that would carry the club after the departure of Cole and 2013 NL Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen. The athletic Musgrove went 6-9 with a 4.06 ERA in 2018 and 11-12 with a 4.44 ERA in 2019, one of the few constants on a team that plummeted during the second half that season, leading to a massive leadership overhaul.
With Pittsburgh general manager Ben Cherington in the midst of a full reset focused on replenishing the team’s talent pool — he traded star first baseman Josh Bell to Washington on Christmas Eve — Musgrove was one of the few major league trade chips available. He now gets a homecoming with a team coming off its first playoff berth since 2006 and aiming to end the Dodgers’ eight-year reign in the NL West.
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Lucchesi is likely to compete for a spot at the back of New York’s rotation behind two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman and David Peterson. The Mets also expect to have Noah Syndergaard back from Tommy John surgery some time after May.
The 27-year-old Lucchesi made 56 starts for San Diego over 2018 and ’19 but struggled in limited duty last season. He made two starts and one relief appearance, going 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA.