SAN DIEGO -- After jettisoning four relievers over two trades this winter, Padres general manager Jed Hoyer expressed interest recently in adding at least one more piece to one of the best bullpens in baseball.
It appears right-hander Chad Qualls is that pitcher, as a source confirmed Thursday that the Padres are close to agreeing to a deal with the 32-year-old, who has a 3.82 ERA over seven Major League seasons.
Qualls split last season between Arizona and Tampa Bay, compiling a 7.32 ERA in 70 games. He began 2010 as the closer for the D-backs but was traded to the Rays on July 31 after posting an 8.29 ERA in 38 innings with four blown saves.
Qualls was 2-0 with a 5.57 ERA and three blown saves in 27 appearances following the trade and became a free agent this winter.
The Padres, who landed outfielder Cameron Maybin and shortstop Jason Bartlett in two deals in which they parted with relievers Ryan Webb, Edward Mujica, Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell, wanted another reliever to add to their bullpen mix.
The Padres were able to keep their core bullpen trio of Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams and two-time All-Star closer Heath Bell intact.
Qualls had 24 saves and a 3.63 ERA in 2009 for the D-backs. Prior to the 2010 season, he had 3.32 career ERA in four seasons with the Astros and two with the D-backs.
Qualls certainly wouldn't be the first pitcher to sign with the Padres looking for a bounce-back performance in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the Major Leagues. Earlier this winter, the Padres signed Aaron Harang to a one-year deal with the hope he would return to form following a tough 2010 season.
FoxSports.com was first to report the Padres were close to signing Qualls, who made $4.185 million last season.