The San Diego Padres have designated Clayton Richard for assignment.
One thing is becoming very clear, the San Diego Padres want to see what their young starting pitchers have at the major league level. To prove that point, the team announced that 2018 Opening Day starting pitcher Clayton Richard has been designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Richard made 27 starts for the Padres, finishing the year with a 7-11 record and 5.33 earned run average, his highest mark since a shortened 2013 season with San Diego. While more advanced pitching metrics show Richard was slightly better than what his ERA displayed (4.68 FIP, 4.24 xFIP), the 35-year-old Opening Day Starter of the Padres struggled mightily down the stretch.
After a solid month of June (4-1, 3.27 ERA, 23/8 K/BB ratio in five starts), Richard did not win a single game over the final two months of the season before being placed on the disabled list due to knee surgery. He underwent surgery on both knees to relieve pain that began back in April. For teams that may be interested in claiming Richard or signing him (should he clear waivers), he will be ready to go for spring training.
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Unfortunately, his best days are clearly behind him. Richard finished his season in San Diego with an 8.57 ERA and 1.62 WHIP over his final seven starts after the All-Star break. He allowed 13 walks and struck out just 16 while opponents hit .307 against him, during that same timespan.
The move now clears the way for a young arm to step up in spring training and claim a rotation spot. Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer have a leg up on the rest of the competition, however, the other remaining three spots are up for grabs. Matt Strahm is preparing for a full season as a starting pitcher, Robbie Erlin will be in the equation again, along with Jacob Nix, Brett Kennedy, and Bryan Mitchell. Prospects such as Logan Allen and Cal Quantrill could make a run out of camp, but will more than likely join Chris Paddack as major league call-ups later on in the season.
San Diego also welcomes back Dinelson Lamet at some point in 2019, adding another name to the long list of pitchers the organization wants to get a good look at in the upcoming season.
Richard has one year remaining on his contract and is owed just $3 million. With his major league experience and known clubhouse presence, another team could likely place a claim on the lefty. If that is the case, farewell Clayton Richard.