Having scored a 10-year, $300MM contract, Manny Machado was easily the Padres’ biggest free-agent signing last winter. Long before that addition, though, the Padres made headlines by awarding right-hander Garrett Richards a two-year, $15.5MM guarantee.
The Padres handed Richards his deal knowing they likely wouldn’t get much from the former Angel this season after he underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2018. Indeed, with little time left this year, Richards hasn’t yet made his Padres debut. It appears to be on the way, however. Richards will throw a bullpen session Saturday, and if he gets through that unscathed, he’ll likely take the hill during San Diego’s series in Milwaukee next week, Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports.
At 67-77, the Padres have sewn up their 13th consecutive season without a playoff berth. But if they’re going to make a long-awaited return to contention a year from now, a healthy Richards could be a key factor. The problem is that good health has been hard to come by for Richards, whom arm injuries have consistently dogged over the past few seasons. The 31-year-old hasn’t logged a full season since 2015, and has only amassed 138 2/3 innings dating back to the 2016 campaign. When he has been able to take the ball, though, Richards has served as a more-than-respectable big league starter, evidenced by his 3.54 ERA/3.62 FIP with 7.8 K/9, 3.24 BB/9 and a 52.5 percent groundball rate across 744 2/3 innings.
Going forward, the Padres could certainly use the type of production that Richards has typically offered. On paper, he’d fit nicely into a group that has gotten solid numbers this year from Chris Paddack, Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer and Dinelson Lamet. San Diego hasn’t found a quality option to fill out its starting staff, however, as Cal Quantrill, Matt Strahm and Nick Margevicius have each failed to truly seize hold of a rotation spot. If the team has its way, Richards won’t encounter that type of difficulty when he’s finally ready to join its staff – a unit that could also include elite prospect MacKenzie Gore in the near future.