The San Diego Padres have moved on from their 2018 Opening Day starting pitcher.
The Clayton Richard era is over in San Diego, for the second time in the 35-year-old pitcher’s career, as the San Diego Padres have completed a trade that sends the veteran left-hander to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for minor league outfielder Connor Panas. The Padres are also sending $1.5 million to help cover the $3 million owed to Richard in the final year of his contract, per an official team release.
Richard spent eight seasons with the Padres, compiling a career 58-68 record and 4.37 ERA. His final season as a Friar began with taking the mound as the Opening Day starter, but ended prematurely after undergoing surgery on both knees to relieve pain that had bothered 10-year veteran for much of the season.
The former Michigan Wolverine was designated for assignment after the signing of infielder Ian Kinsler, however, word from the Padres front office suggested that Richard would be considered as a late-offseason addition before spring training, to be used in a relief role while young arms such as Logan Allen, Matt Strahm, and others are given their opportunity to show their stuff in 2019.
That option is now off the table with today’s trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. From our friends over at Jays Journal, Toronto was in the market for a veteran starting pitcher to eat innings and lead their very young pitching staff. The team is now hoping they have that in Richard, who made an unforgettable impact on his teammates this offseason, inviting rookie pitchers to his house to train for the 2018 season.
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While we certainly wish Richard all the luck in his new role with the Blue Jays, it will be interesting to see how a 35-year-old pitcher coming off surgery on both of his knees can handle not only coming back healthy, but doing so the American League East.
In return, the Padres acquired 25-year-old outfielder Connor Panas. Panas has spent the past four seasons in the Blue Jays organization after the team used a 9th-round draft pick on the former Canisius star.
Everything I have read about Panas seems to agree that he doesn’t have any standout tools that will carry him to fame, yet he doesn’t have any weaknesses that may prevent him from ever contributing at the major league level.
He’s coming off a 2018 season with the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats where he slashed .232/.296/.359 with nine home runs and 16 doubles. Despite posting the lowest strikeout rate of his minor league career (over a full season), Panas struggled against Eastern League pitching. He does, however, have a record of producing at the plate. Panas hit 34 home runs between 2016 and 2017, posting OPS numbers of .773 and .839, and wRC+ totals of 129 and 148.
Say what you will about Clayton Richard’s performance, you can’t ignore what Richard and his family brought to the city of San Diego. It’s unfortunate that his time in SD ended the way it did, however, we wish him nothing but good luck north of the border.