In Baseball Reference’s simulated season, Garrett Richards was traded after six starts with the Padres. Does that make him the most expendable?
Working his way back from Tommy John surgery, Garrett Richards made three starts to close out 2019. He tossed just 8.2 innings, but he was off to a tremendous start in spring training and was expected to be a key piece of the Padres rotation.
However, in Baseball Reference’s simulated season, the Friars traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals after just six starts. Richards was 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA before the trade, and I think I can speak for most that a trade was the least likely outcome.
Fear of another injury occurring was my primary concern, and while I’m not entirely certain what kind of return he would garner, trading Richards seemed far-fetched.
But after giving it some thought, the Padres rotation is already crowded. MacKenzie Gore has been getting regular starts in the rotation, and though the results are not there yet, he needs to have starts every five days.
Chris Paddack, Zach Davies, and Dinelson Lamet are doing their thing, and Joey Lucchesi has made 9-of-11 appearances out of the rotation. The fifth-starter battle was a hot topic during Spring Training with either Lucchesi or Cal Quantrill on the outs.
But trading Richards, who is a free agent after this season, actually makes some sense, especially if the Padres can net a lower level prospect.
With the Cardinals, Richards has a 4.73 ERA through five starts, and his peripherals are considerably worse than with the Padres.
And while it seems unlikely that trades would be on the table for a shortened season, the Padres will have to get creative to give Gore regular starts, if that’s indeed the plan.
In a non-traditional year, we are going to see several items that deviate from the norm. Perhaps Jayce Tingler would entertain a six-man rotation or potentially move Richards to the bullpen in a long-relief role or some variation of that.