By Nick Recchia
Dinelson Lamet has gone from a relatively unknown power armed signee out of the Dominican Republic to a popular dark horse choice for National League Cy Young award possibility all within the span of six seasons. After a failed agreement with the Phillies in the summer of 2012, Lamet ultimately signed with the Padres in the summer of 2014 for $100k. Signing out of the DR when he was already 21 years old, you could say he was a late bloomer or that luck simply favored the Padres. Either way, most prospects in the DR sign in their high school equivalent years while Lamet put pen to paper at the age of a college junior. This maturity could have benefitted him through his journey throughout the minor leagues.
Now at the age of 28 (July 18th), he has earmarked himself from thrower with potential to a pitcher with some of the best stuff in the game. Not only has his stuff looked even better since his return from TJ surgery (97.2 MPH avg. 4S), his control has peaked up as well as evidenced by his K/BB rate of 4.0. His walk rate has trended down to a career best 2.82 BB/9 while maintaining a double digit K/9 of 11.28. This is allowing him to stay in games longer and be more economical with his pitch counts. This is the evolution from thrower to pitcher. His fastball's main complement has been a slider that has been his go to pitch in the past, yet this slider looks a little different. It’s coming in at a career high average velocity as well at 86.7 MPH while being used at a career high usage rate of 51.2% under the tutelage of pitching coach and slider tzar Larry Rothschild. Along with his sinker, it has resulted in an opponents batting average of .152 while BABIP backs up the weak contact with an expected batting average of .220.
Entering his age 28 season, with a major arm injury behind him and with three seasons after 2020 before he could hit free agency at the age of 31, Lamet looks like a prime extension candidate. Signing for a bonus of $100k when all things are considered from the DR (trainers/agents/etc.), did not set up for life and the fragility of the pitching position has already touched Lamet’s right elbow in his young career. The team could look to extend a burgeoning power arm that is stepping on the national scene on a young exciting Padres team and starting to garner a lot of attention like some of his more esteemed teammates. The team could look to buy out his three arbitration years and get a couple of prime free agency years while Lamet would secure life altering security for his days beyond baseball. A few examples of recent pitchers in his age and service category for example would be Kyle Hendricks with the Chicago Cubs and Sonny Gray of the Cincinnati Reds. Hendricks and Gray both signed four year extensions at the age of 29, buying out their remaining arbitration years while either having vesting or team options for a fifth year. Both deals topping out in the $55-$65 milling range in total value possibly.
Lamet might be unheralded previously, but his presence on the mound and in the rotation looks to have a long term role with the club and an extension makes a lot of sense for both sides to entertain. Fernando Tatis jr is not the only young player the team should have eyes on extending. Lamet is represented by MVP Sports Group which just so happens to be the same agency that represents Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis jr. You have to start somewhere and there’s no better place than an ace in the making.
Longtime baseball enthusiast who tries to incorporate new age analytics into old school baseball strategy and how the two can coexist in winning harmony. Also a minor league aficionado who delves deep into the farm to share the love of the game from the lower rungs of the minor leagues and up. Always up for sports talk.