Padres sign Brent Honeywell to major league deal
The Fathers and the right-hander Brent Honeywell are in agreement on a Major League deal, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. It’s a split deal that will pay him $725,000 in majors and $200,000 in minors. The Padres later announced the signing.
Honeywell, 28 in March, was selected by the Rays with the 72nd overall pick in the 2014 draft. His strong performance in the lower minor leagues allowed him to quickly rise up the prospect rankings. Baseball America had him on its Top 100 list five years in a row starting in 2016.
Unfortunately, the reason Honeywell stayed there so long is that a list of injuries prevented him from living up to his potential status. He required Tommy John surgery in early 2018, which ended that season. In June 2019, he fractured a bone in his right elbow while returning to the mound, sidelining him for the second straight year. In May 2020, while the pandemic had put the season on hold, he underwent a decompression procedure on his right ulnar nerve. This eventually made it three consecutive campaigns without Honeywell taking the mound in an official game of any kind.
In 2021, he was finally healthy enough to return to action, making his MLB debut with the Rays. However, they only let him pitch 4 1/3 innings at the big league level, leaving him in Triple-A for most of the year. He pitched 81 2/3 frames there with a 3.97 ERA, a 20% strikeout rate and a 7.2% walk rate. Those were decent numbers, but considering he missed three entire seasons before that, it would be hard to characterize it as anything other than a very encouraging return.
The Rays traded Honeywell to the A’s in November, with Oakland surely hoping for better days to come with injuries in the rearview mirror. Unfortunately, in March he was diagnosed with an ulnar stress reaction in his pitching elbow. He was shut down at the time and then placed on the 60-day disabled list when the season started. He began a rehab assignment in August, but the club cut him from its 40-man roster in September. He continued to pitch in the A’s farm system, finishing the year with a 7.08 ERA in 20 1/3 innings.
He became a free agent at the end of the year and has been pitching for the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League. So far he has made seven appearances, including six starts, with a 0.96 ERA in 28 innings. Obviously, that’s been enough to convince the Padres that Honeywell is worth a roster spot, as they’ve added Honeywell to the 40-man. Financially, there is little risk as Honeywell’s salary will be barely above the league minimum of $720,000. The fact that this is a split deal suggests that the Padres aren’t fully committed to Honeywell staying at this spot, which is a pretty logical position given his long injury history. However, he is out of options, meaning they would have to clear him on waivers before sending him down to the minor leagues.
It’s unclear whether the Padres intend to deploy Honeywell as a starter or a reliever, but they have shown a broadly flexible approach in that department when building their pitching staff. The rotation is headlined by three tight ends Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish i Blake Snellbut whoever stands behind them is less certain. Nick Martinez i Seth Lugo they are candidates for a couple spots, but both also have experience as relievers. Martinez started 2022 in the rotation, but eventually moved to the bullpen and had better results there. Lugo has just 38 career starts at the big league level, but has a wide repertoire of pitches that could allow him to become a starter.
Honeywell is currently a starter in winter ball, but hasn’t logged 100 innings in a season since 2017, before his long absence. Counting on him for anything resembling a full starter’s workload would certainly be risky, but he’s just one of a handful of options for the Friars. In addition to Martínez and Lugo, they also have prospects Adrià Morejón, Jay Groome, Ryan Weathers and others on the 40-man roster. For a minimal financial investment, the Padres have thrown Honeywell into the mix and will see if they can be the ones to benefit from his long-awaited breakout. If this comes to fruition, Honeywell has less than a year of service and the club can keep him for the foreseeable future.
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