The San Diego Padres announced they agreed to terms with left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke on Friday. According to SI’s Jon Heyman, the deal extends Leubke’s contract through the 2015 season with club options for 2016 and 2017. The deal is reported to be a guaranteed $12 million. This deal can hypothetically extend Luebke through his arbitration years and his first year of free agency. According to Dan Hayes of the North County Times, Luebke’s options are for $7.5 million and $10 million dollars. MLB.com’s Corey Brock also added the deal has the potential to reach a maximum of $27.75 million dollars.
With his impressive performance last year out of the pen and as a starter, Luebke solidified his place in the starting rotation for 2012 and beyond. Luebke appeared in 46 games (17 starts), finished 6-11 and posted a 3.29 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. Luebke also had an impressive 1.07 WHIP and allowed a meager 2.09 BAA. His 154 strikeouts were the second-most ever by a Padres rookie, according to Brock.
The Padres drafted Luebke in the first round (63rd pick) of the 2007 draft. The stoic and aggressive southpaw (6′-4″, 215 pounds) throws in the low 90s, topping out at 95. He also has a plus slider and a vastly improving change. He displays a very fluid delivery that enables him to repeat his mechanics effortlessly. In his brief tenure as a Padre, he has shown solid command of the strike zone and great poise for his experience. He has excellent late-tailing movement on his two-seam fastball, which he uses as both a swing-and-miss pitch and to induce weak ground balls.
His numbers also indicate that spacious PETCO Park doesn’t benefit him. Luebke also has one of the better pick-off moves to first base in the organization, similar to Clayton Richard‘s. As a lefty, with the ability to have two plus pitches in his arsenal, along with an improving change, he has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter in the majors for years to come.