The Blue Jays have released left-hander Clayton Richard, Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae reports (Twitter link). As expected, the team used the open 40-man roster spot to reinstate righty Elvis Luciano from the 60-day injured list.
The move ends a disappointing tenure for Richard in Toronto, as knee and lat injuries limited him to only 45 1/3 innings pitched (all as a starter) this season. The Jays acquired Richard from the Padres last winter in the hopes that he could be a veteran innings-eater, though like similar acquisitions Clay Buchholz and Matt Shoemaker, injuries ultimately scuttled those plans.
Richard wasn’t very effective when he did pitch, posting a 5.96 ERA, 1.22 K/BB, and only a 4.37 K/9, low even by Richard’s standards as a groundball specialist (his grounder rate was a typically sturdy 55.8%). Home runs have become an increasingly big problem for Richard over the last three seasons, culminating in an ugly 24.3% home run rate, as he allowed nine big flies over his 45 innings.
Richard just turned 36 years old today, making the release a particularly unwelcome birthday present. Between his age and a lack of effectiveness over the last three years, he’ll likely have to take a minor league contract with his next team.
Luciano hasn’t pitched since June 12 due to an elbow sprain, though he’ll return to the roster in time to clock the 90 days of active duty necessary to keep him in the Blue Jays organization. The Jays picked Luciano away from the Royals in the last Rule 5 Draft, meaning that the 19-year-old had to remain on Toronto’s 25-man roster for the entire season (or for at least 90 days in case of injury, as was the situation here) for the Blue Jays to permanently secure his rights.
As expected for a youngster who had never pitched above rookie ball, Luciano had a tough go of things in his first exposure to Major League hitting. Luciano had a 6.51 ERA over 27 2/3 innings out of the Jays’ bullpen, with an equal number (22) of unintentional walks and strikeouts. Once he’s officially in the organization, the Blue Jays will return Luciano to the minors for 2020.