San Diego native Mark Prior signed a one-year deal with the Padres on Wednesday, joining two other, health-challenged former Cubs, Glendon Rusch and Shawn Estes, in an attempt to make manager Bud Black's staff for 2008.

The San Diego Union-Tribune says Prior is only guaranteed to receive $1MM from his new team, but that he could earn up to $3.5MM in bonuses, "including $1 million for being on the Padres' 25-man roster throughout the 2008 season and up to another $2.25 million for making 30 starts."

No one--not Prior, not even his agent, John Boggs--has suggested Prior will be ready to return to the Major Leagues by Opening Day, and the contract announced Wednesday is for one year only, with neither side holding an option for 2009, meaning Prior will be a free agent following the season. (Estimates of Prior's return date have ranged from mid-May to August or September.)

Still, looking at things from the Padres' perspective, Prior's upside is obvious and these days, the $1MM investment is neglible. As for Prior, who graduated from University of San Diego High School, he was clearly motivated to make his comeback with his hometown team.

Finally, in case you're wondering, the Cubs and Padres will play one another seven times in 2008, May 12th-15th at Wrigley and June 2nd-4th at Petco. I'm going to say that the chances are at least 50/50 that if Mark Prior ever does pitch against his former Chicago Cub teammates, it will be in 2009 at the earliest.


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