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Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Luebke and the Padres agree to four-year deal

By Gary R. Rasberry
Cory Luebke has been with the San Diego Padres for nearly five years after being drafted in June of 2007.
Now, it looks like he'll be with them for quite a bit longer.
The left-handed starting pitcher and the Padres agreed to a four-year contract extension on Friday, with the possibility of two additional years added to the deal that could extend his stay with the club through the 2017 season.
"It's exciting. It was something I didn't really think about," said Luebke via telephone after the Padres' spring training game against San Francisco in Peoria, Arizona on Friday night. "It was something, at this point in my career, I didn't think it was an option. Kind of rare for a guy to get an offer like this after just one-plus season."
The contract comes after Luebke, who would not have been eligible for salary arbitration until 2014 and had signed a one-year deal earlier in spring training, finished his first full season in the majors, going 6-10 with an impressive 3.29 earned run average and 154 strikeouts in 139 2/3 innings.
"I'm just glad they have the faith in me to continue to get better," said Luebke. "It just happened pretty fast (negotiations starting this week, according to the Associated Press). Kind of a whirlwind so far."
The deal is guaranteed for four years and $12 million dollars. Luebke will make $500,000 this season, with a bonus of $500,000. In 2013, Luebke will make $1 million before the contract raises his pay to $3 million for 2014 and $5.25 million in 2015.
The Padres hold club options for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. If exercised, the Padres will pay Luebke $7.5 million in 2016 and $10 million in 2017. There is a buyout provision of $1.75 million for the 2016 option and $250,000 in 2017.
"Initially, I just had to get with my agent and see what these kind of contracts look like," said Luebke. "There aren't many out there to compare to.
"The longer you hold out, the more lucrative this business can be, but there's something to be said about getting guaranteed money early in your career. The security it provided me, once we got talking, was something I wanted to do.
"I don't think I'll ever get complacent in this game. I'll never feel too comfortable," said Luebke. "But it takes out an aspect of the game that a lot of guys don't have to worry about. There's no getting around the business side of baseball or any professional sport. To know that side is taken care of for a few years, at this point in my career when I'm still trying to learn and develop, to know that all I can worry about is to get to the park and figure how to get better each day, takes a lot of pressure off of me. I'm looking forward to being able to play under those circumstances."
The deal comes a week before the opening of the 2012 season with a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park. Luebke is aiming to be the number-two pitcher in the Padres' rotation, meaning he will face the Dodgers next Friday night.
"It was nice to be in spring training knowing you had a position locked up and (you) can go out and work on some pitches, where spring trainings in the past, you show your good stuff (to) try and make the club," said Luebke, who will make his final tuneup appearance on Sunday against Texas. "This spring was good. I worked on a ton of off-speed (pitches), lot of change-ups, a few different breaking pitches I've been working on."
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