The San Diego Padres came to terms with left-handed starter Clayton Richard on Tuesday, providing a much needed boost in 2017’s rotation.
Richard has been in the major leagues for eight full seasons, over five of them in San Diego. Coming off of a productive 2016 in which he recorded three wins and a 3.33 ERA with both the Cubs and Padres, a return to San Diego is in Richard’s future.
The free agent will now come back, at least for 2017. Considering the Padres’ thin rotation, Richard will play a key role, possibly even as the Opening Day starter.
No contract details have been officially released, but it was reported that Richard has agreed to a $1.75 million contract.
Clearly, the benefits of bringing Richard back outweigh the risks. The 33-year-old has a good amount of major league experience, something desperately needed in this rotation. Also, Richard will be the only clear left-handed starter entering Spring Training. Having a rotation of all righties often works against clubs, as it is good to keep an opposing lineup off balance over the course of the series.
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Also, if it is true that Richard only cost San Diego $1.75 million for 2017, this is a steal. A.J. Preller and the front office have done a fabulous job to make this signing happen, one that did not seem very likely even just a few days ago.
Veteran players often chase opportunities to compete for a World Series, knowing that they do not have much career left. Since the Padres are clearly not contenders in 2017, and they are actually reducing Richard’s salary by $250,000 after an excellent year, this signing is one which will re-establish Preller’s status as an elite general manager.
Still, the contract lasts just one year, so it is unknown whether or not the 33-year-old will be part of the organization’s long term solution. But what is reassuring is that he will be back for 2017, playing a key role in the front end of the rotation.