Clayton Richard Rumors

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/24/15

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Cubs have optioned lefty Clayton Richard, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com tweets. It appears that the previously reported DFA only removed him from the 25-man roster, to permit the club to seek optional assignment waivers. Richard could have declined the assignment himself, but apparently chose not to.
  • The Blue Jays have released infielder Ramon Santiago, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. Santiago, 35, slashed just .202/.283/.218 in his 139 plate appearances this year at Triple-A Buffalo. He has seen big league action in 13 straight seasons, but now seems likely to see that streak come to an end.
  • Toronto has also added righty Phillippe Aumont, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi tweets. The former Phillies hurler has never gained traction at the big league level, and hit the open market after declining an outright assignment. He did post a 2.35 ERA over 65 innings at the Triple-A level this year, his best showing in some time.
  • Lefty Ryan Buchter has agreed to a minor league deal with the Cubs, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports on Twitter. The 28-year-old was released by the Dodgers recently after exercising his opt-out. Buchter threw 32 2/3 innings of 1.65 ERA ball at Triple-A, with 10.7 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9.

Cubs Designate Clayton Richard

The Cubs have designated lefty Clayton Richard for assignment, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports on Twitter. Chicago has brought up Yoervis Medina to take his spot on the active roster.

Richard, just acquired from the Pirates to provide a temporary rotation option, has allowed nine earned runs over 15 frames with Chicago. He’s permitted 19 hits (including two long balls) and five walks in that stretch, while striking out only six batters.

It remains to be seen whether any other clubs will be willing to give an active roster spot to Richard, who could conceivably find a role with a team that deals away from its rotation over the coming days. He did produce rather excellent results (1.89 ERA in 62 innings) during his run at Triple-A for the Pittsburgh organization.


Central Notes: Richard, Tigers, Verlander, Royals, Cueto

The Pirates‘ trade of minor league starter Clayton Richard to the Cubs might not seem like huge news on the surface, but the move could prove to be significant if the Bucs have injuries in the rotation, Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. With Richard out of the picture and the team’s rash of injuries, the Pirates’ organizational starting depth has been compromised.  Manager Clint Hurdle is not yet terribly concerned about it, saying “I still think we are in a place where we are coveredIf something were to happen here and we lost two starters, that might change. We have lost our surplus. We had great depth at one point, now our depth isn’t as deep.”  Richard, 31, was a productive starter for the Padres before shoulder issues derailed his career. In both 2010 and 2012, he put up 200+ innings with a sub-4.00 ERA. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2013, struggling badly before ultimately going under the knife.

A few more notes from the game’s Central divisions…

  • Just one week ago, the Tigers were locks to be buyers at this year’s trade deadline, but James Schmehl of MLive.com examines the possibility that they could become sellers in the wake of Miguel Cabrera‘s injury. As Schemehl notes, the Tigers have a number of appealing trade chips in David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Rajai Davis — each of whom is set to hit free agency at season’s end. However, Schmehl also notes that the team has made a significant investment in winning this season and may be more likely to add a pair of relievers with an eye on the postseason. Asked about the possibility of becoming a deadline seller, manager Brad Ausmus replied, “That’s not really my call, but I’d be surprised.” Given the Tigers’ win-at-all-costs approach over the past few seasons, it would be a surprise to me as well to see them as deadline sellers, though perhaps they’ll take a similar route to 2014 and deal from their big league roster as a means of strengthening the current on-field product.
  • The New York Post’s Joel Sherman makes a bleak comparison for Tigers fans, writing that Justin Verlander has become Detroit’s version of CC Sabathia. Verlander is in the first year of a five-year, $140MM extension and has struggled to deliver any form of positive results over the past two seasons while dealing with injuries. He notes that GM Dave Dombrowski even talks about Verlander in the same manner that his Yankees counterpart, Brian Cashman, discusses Sabathia. Sherman quotes Dombrowski: “We don’t think you will see MVP-season Justin, but he can still be a very good pitcher and that would be really big for us. … He has just been a little inconsistent. We just need him to get more comfortable.” Verlander’s not showing quite the depleted velocity that Sabathia has, however, so perhaps there’s hope for him yet.
  • The Royals should make an aggressive play to acquire the RedsJohnny Cueto prior to the deadline, opines ESPN’s Christina Kahrl. She feels that the Royals are already strong favorites to win the AL Central, but adding Cueto gives them the rotation depth necessary to be a force in shorter playoff series. With Cueto and perhaps a returning Kris Medlen in the fold, Kahrl notes, the Royals can be shielded from the need to start Jeremy Guthrie in a pivotal postseason contest.


Cubs Acquire Clayton Richard From Pirates

The Cubs have acquired lefty Clayton Richard from the Pirates in exchange for cash considerations, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald reports on Twitter. Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes on Twitter that Richard appeared to be headed to a big league roster after clearing his locker out at Triple-A Indianapolis.

The impetus for the move was an “upward mobility” clause in Richard’s contract, which created a three-day period within which the Pirates had to offer him to other clubs willing to put him on a big league roster or instead add him to their own roster. Had no team been so willing, then Richard would have remained in Triple-A.

Chicago, obviously, was prepared to give Richard an active roster spot while Pittsburgh was not. Miles adds that Richard will make a start this Saturday for the Cubs.

Richard, 31, was a productive starter for the Padres before shoulder issues derailed his career. In both 2010 and 2012, he put up 200+ innings with a sub-4.00 ERA. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2013, struggling badly before ultimately going under the knife.

Richard appeared briefly in Triple-A last year for the Diamondbacks, but has returned to form at Indianapolis this season. In ten total minor league starts, he’s racked up 62 innings of 1.89 ERA pitching, striking out 4.4 and walking 2.0 batters per nine innings.


Pirates Face Roster Decision On Clayton Richard

Pirates lefty Clayton Richard has a clause in his deal that provides a 72-hour window during which Pittsburgh must make him available to other clubs, Nathan Baird of JConline.com reports. That “upward mobility” provision went into effect today.

Here’s how it works, per the report: If another team is willing to put the veteran hurler on its big league roster, then the Pirates must either deal him to that club or, instead, add him to their own 25-man roster. In the event that no suitor emerges, however, then the Bucs can keep Richard at Triple-A.

Once a 200-inning starter for the Padres, the 31-year-old fell apart in 2013, struggling to a 7.01 ERA and ultimately undergoing shoulder surgery. He has not returned to the big leagues since, but is thriving this year at Triple-A Indianapolis. Over 62 frames in ten starts, Richard owns a 1.89 ERA with 4.4 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9.

Richard expressed interest in continuing his career with the Pirates, but said he is ready to do so at the major league level. “I can’t say what they see,” said Richard. “I know what I feel, and I’m to the point now where I’m ready to face big league competition.”

He also tells Baird that he’s more than willing to work from the pen to get back to the majors. Richard previously declined an opportunity to opt out of his deal at the start of the season, though this time around the decision seems to be out of his hands entirely.


Clayton Richard Declines To Opt Out From Pirates Deal

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.

“€œI’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.”


East Notes: Herrera, Lough, Rays

Here’s the latest from the East coast:


Quick Hits: Concussions, Red Sox, Rays, Richard, Tomas

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.

Pitching Notes: Richard, Masterson, Morrow, Hochevar

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.

Pirates Sign Clayton Richard To Minor League Deal

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.