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Clayton Richard Rumors
Lefty Clayton Richard decided to allow his opt-out clause to expire yesterday, despite the fact that he was not added to the Pirates’ 40-man roster, Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects reports. Richard’s opt-out was negotiated into his deal; he is not an Article XX(B) free agent and thus lacks the automatic protection provided by that status.
Richard said that he is not sure if and when he can opt out in the future, but noted that his representatives were set to discuss his contract with GM Neal Huntington. The 31-year-old has been effective in spring — he allowed 3 earned runs over 8 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking two — and likely would have drawn interest elsewhere. Instead, he’ll provide a potentially useful depth option for Pittsburgh.
“I’m still here, Richard tells Williams. “We just thought it would be best to stay here and work some stuff out. I’ve had such a good experience with everyone here. We’re going in the right direction. It seems like the right move to stay here and keep on making that progress.”
Here’s the latest from the East coast:
- Phillies Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera is expected to be the Opening Day center fielder, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Herrera is a second baseman by trade, but the Phillies began using him in center field 10 days ago. He’ll displace Ben Revere whose poor routes and weak arm are better suited to left field. It’s unclear if that arrangement is temporary or permanent. The club entered this spring with a planned alignment of Domonic Brown, Revere, and Grady Sizemore from left to right. Brown will likely miss Opening Day with an Achilles injury and Sizemore has performed poorly this spring. It’s possible Brown will move back to right field upon returning from injury.
- Orioles outfielder David Lough will likely open the season on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Lough was already on shaky territory with a 5-for-27 spring. The lefty is viewed as a defensive replacement. The impending move will probably open the door for utility man Jimmy Paredes.
- The Rays are looking at external starting pitching options as they try to piece together a decimated rotation, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Among the candidates are Wandy Rodriguez, Shaun Marcum, Bruce Chen, and Clayton Richard. Internal alternatives include Matt Andriese, Mike Montgomery, Burch Smith, and Everett Teaford. The club doesn’t need a fifth starter until April 14th. Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, and Alex Colome are all expected to return relatively early in the season, so a large investment is viewed as unnecessary.
It may seem obvious, but a study has now shown that concussions diminish offensive performance, reports Nicholas Bakalar of the New York Times. The study appeared in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. A total of 66 position players were included in it. The group hit .249/.315/.393 in the two weeks prior to injury and .227/.287/.347. Some of the players involved never went on the disabled list. Based on the Times article, it’s unclear if more detailed analysis was performed. For example, missing time for any reason would hypothetically reduce performance some unknown amount. So it’s probably incorrect to attribute the entire decline to concussions alone.
Here’s more from around baseball:
- ESPN’s Buster Olney has “real concerns about the Red Sox,” reports Nik Beimler on WEEI.com. Olney identified problems with four of the five members of the rotation. Rick Porcello was the one guy who didn’t draw a negative comment. While Cole Hamels is often connected to the Sox, Olney thinks they should wait on any trades. “I think there will be a lot of opportunities to trade for pitching during the course of summer.” Even with inconsistent pitching, the club could still hit enough to reach the postseason.
- The Rays may need to play roster roulette while they wait for Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, and Alex Colome to recover, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The rotation will affect the number of NRIs the club can add. Presently, Bobby Wilson, Jake Elmore, Brandon Gomes, and Everett Teaford are battling for one or two spots (pending a trade of David DeJesus). Teaford may have a temporary advantage since he can provide long relief or a spot start.
- Pirates pitcher Clayton Richard can opt out of his contract at the end of spring training, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Per Richard, he can opt out if not on the 40-man roster. He’s the latest in a long string of reclamation projects for the Pirates. His last successful season came in 2012 when he allowed a 3.99 ERA with 4.40 K/9 and 1.73 BB/9 in 218 innings.
- Based upon interviews of rival scouts and executives, nobody believes Diamondbacks third baseman Yasmany Tomas can remain in the infield, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Most cited his thick body type, although they also said he doesn’t have the hands for the position. If Tomas moves to the outfield, it will create a roster crunch for Arizona. The current plan is to share playing time in left field between David Peralta, Ender Inciarte, and Cody Ross. Of course, the club could option Tomas to the minors too.
Spring Training will always involve unfortunate news of injuries, but it also represents an opportunity for players making a comeback — whether from injury or otherwise — to reestablish themselves. In addition to restoring their own career trajectories (Scott Kazmir, anyone?), such players can deliver immense value to the teams that give them another chance.
Let’s take a look at a few situations from around the league, focusing on pitchers:
- When lefty Clayton Richard signed a minor league deal with the Pirates, everyone’s first thoughts went to the hurlers whose careers have recently been revived in Pittsburgh. (A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and Edinson Volquez being the prime examples.) As Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, that is essentially what Richard was thinking about, too. “I was able to talk to [Volquez] a little bit and see what he thought of the organization,” said Richard. “It was positive. Just in talking with [GM] Neal [Huntington], [manager] Clint [Hurdle], and [pitching coach] Ray [Searage], I got a good feel of what they are all about. it made sense for me that this was the place.” The non-roster invitee is said to be hitting the gun in the low-nineties, where he previously has worked, and says he is “loosening up my entire body through my delivery” after having seen his motion limited in the past by shoulder troubles.
- After good vibes at the opening of Red Sox camp, Justin Masterson had a less-than-promising outing yesterday, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. A scout called Masterson’s work “awful,” while manager John Farrell said the righty “started to flash some better stuff into the fourth inning” but lacked “late action” on his pitches from “inconsistencies and when the velocity drops.” That group of issues — i.e., mechanical struggles and waning fastball velocity — were perhaps the two most-cited underlying difficulties that led Masterson to fall from his early perch near the top of this year’s free agent class to a one-year, $9.5MM deal with Boston. Of course, there is still plenty of time for Masterson to rebound this season.
- Brandon Morrow of the Padres also signed a make-good, one-year deal but was guaranteed much less than Masterson. But he is off to a strong opening to his year, having posted nine innings with one earned run and seven strikeouts against two free passes thus far. In post-game comments today to his counterpart, Cubs skipper Joe Maddon said that Morrow showed “real stuff” in his four scoreless frames, as MLB.com’s Alyson Footer tweets. It seems at this point that the fifth starter’s role is Morrow’s to lose.
- Royals reliever Luke Hochevar made his way back to competitive action today, throwing a clean inning, as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports (Twitter links). Working his way back from Tommy John surgery, Hochevar nevertheless landed a $10MM guarantee (over two years) to return to Kansas City. He was throwing in the 92 to 93 mph range in his work today, but despite that successful first appearance still seems likely to start the regular season on the DL.
The Pirates announced that they’ve signed left-hander Clayton Richard to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.
Richard hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2013, but the Relativity Sports client was a mainstay in the Padres’ rotation from 2010-13 after being acquired in the Jake Peavy trade with the White Sox. A shoulder impingement cut his 2013 season short, and he went on to have surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome in the offseason. He did get back on a mound to throw 21 1/3 minor league innings with the Diamondbacks last year. The Pirates will hope that Richard is another in the long line of pitchers they’ve revitalized, although the minor league deal is a more minimal investment than their previous reclamation projects.
Now 31 years of age, Richard posted a 3.88 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 520 innings for the Padres in 2010-12, twice topping the 200-inning mark. He boasts a career ground-ball rate of 50 percent — an attribute to which the Pirates have been attracted in other pitchers over the past few years. Pittsburgh is known to be incredibly aggressive with its infield shifts, and that trait should help maximize Richard’s ground-ball tendencies if he ultimately makes the club.
Left-hander Clayton Richard informs Nathan Baird of the Lafayette Journal & Courier that he will sign a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks and make his first minor league start with the organization this weekend.
Richard, 30, had a pair of 200-inning seasons with the Padres after coming over from the White Sox in 2009’s Jake Peavy trade, but he’s been sidelined all season while recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in February.
The former eighth-round pick has never been much of a strikeout pitcher, but has a career 4.33 ERA with 5.6 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate in 773 innings for the White Sox and Padres. He’ll add some pitching depth to the D’Backs organization, though it’s still unclear what sort of timeline he would have in getting to the Majors.
It seems like every club is getting bad news regarding its pitchers these days, but the Mets can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to lefty Jon Niese. ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin reports that Niese, who was pulled from Sunday's start early due to elbow discomfort, learned that he has some inflammation but no ligament damage in the elbow. He received a cortisone shot and is tentatively set to resume throwing on Wednesday. Niese still figures to open the season on the DL, according to Rubin, but only for a few days, as the Mets won't need a fifth starter until April 6. Niese is likely to be activated at that point.
Here are some more notes specifically pertaining to pitchers…
- The Diamondbacks are likely to again scout Jeff Samardzija in the wake of Patrick Corbin's probable Tommy John surgery, reports Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. However, Levine writes that the Cubs would likely ask for Archie Bradley in return, which would seemingly end conversations before they began.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that free agent closer Joel Hanrahan is up to 90-92 mph in his rehab from Tommy John and flexor tendon surgery and could sign with a team soon. Hanrahan is coming off a season in which he pitched just 7 1/3 innings for the Red Sox before undergoing surgery on May 16. He still has a ways to go on his velocity, as he averages 96-97 mph when he's at his best.
- Free agent left-hander Clayton Richard tells MLB Network Radio's Scott Braun that he underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last month (Twitter link). Richard rejected an outright assignment from the Padres and elected free agency at season's end, but this seems to rule out the possibility that he'd be ready to pitch anytime soon.
Richard, who turned 30 in September, was a clear non-tender candidate, and the Padres chose to address the issue immediately rather than wait until the non-tender deadline in early December. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $5.24MM salary for Richard, who posted a 7.01 ERA with 4.1 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 52 2/3 innings for the Padres this season. Opponents batted .308/.369/.578 against Richard in a season that saw him miss three weeks with a stomach virus before going down for the year with a shoulder injury in June.
The Padres originally acquired Richard from the White Sox aspart of their haul for Jake Peavy, and Richard rewarded them with 584 innings of 3.90 ERA prior to the 2013 campaign. Though he's never been one to miss many bats (career 5.6 K/9), Richard has shown the ability to be a durable innings eater, twice topping the 200-inning threshold with a sub-4.00 ERA for the Friars.
As noted by MLB.com's Corey Brock (on Twitter), Richard's departure means that the Padres have no one left in their system from the Peavy trade. Aaron Poreda, Dexter Carter and Adam Russell have all departed, with Carter no longer pitching in affiliated ball, Russell going to the Rays in the Jason Bartlett trade and Poreda going to the Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft. Poreda, who has since been released, recently signed a minor league deal with the Rangers.
The Padres have avoided arbitration with Clayton Richard by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5.24MM, according to a team announcement. The signing of the SFX client marks the final arbitration-eligible player to sign with a team as well as the first year there were no arbitration hearings since the process was instituted in 1974.
Richard submitted an arbitration figure of $5.55MM as compared to the Padres' offer of $4.905MM. The agreed upon number of $5.24MM gives Richard a slight victory as his salary will be just slightly above the midpoint. The left-hander posted a 3.99 ERA with 4.4 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 218 2/3 innings during the 2012 season.
The veteran will be eligible for arbitration for the final time in 2014 before becoming a free agent for the first time one year later.
It took Michael Bourn a long time to find his new team this winter, but the center fielder isn't complaining, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. At the same time, several executives charge that agent Scott Boras overreached and initially asked for much more than a four year deal. "Boras clearly felt he’d get significant length, definitely five years, possibly six or seven," one exec told Rosenthal. Here's more Saturday linkage..
- Clayton Richard is now the lone remaining arbitration case with Homer Bailey agreeing to a one-year deal this afternoon, but it seems likely that he'll be headed to the table with the Padres, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.
- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is entering the final season of his two-year contract extension, but the skipper says that he is focused on winning and not his next deal, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Manuel is adamant that he won't worry about his job security if the team struggles early on in the season and pointed out that managers like Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa have been in similar situations.
- While Rafael Soriano won't miss ceding the ninth inning to Mariano Rivera in New York, he will miss having the legendary closer as a teammate, writes Harvey Araton of the New York Times. Meanwhile, he's happy to be with the Nationals where he knows for certain that he will enter as the closer.