TODAY: The Rangers officially announced the Richards deal. Jonathan Hernandez was placed on the 60-day injured list in the corresponding move, as Hernandez is still rehabbing after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2021.
The Athletic’s Levi Weaver reports (via Twitter) that Richards will earn $4.5MM in 2022, and the 2023 club option is worth $9MM. There is a $1MM buyout if the Rangers decline the option, so Richards’ total guarantee is $5.5MM.
MARCH 17, 10:38pm: It’s a one-year contract with an option for 2023, reports Jon Heyman of the MLB Network (on Twitter).
Richards hit the open market when the Red Sox declined a $10MM club option on his services, buying him out for $1.5MM. Boston also bought out southpaw Martín Pérez at the same time. They’ll reunite in Arlington, as Pérez signed a one-year deal to rejoin the Rangers last week.
The 33-year-old Richards has had a decade-long run in the big leagues as a starter. He looked like a mid-rotation or better arm during his best days with the Angels, but the righty’s career was thrown off by a series of injuries. He combined for 31 starts between 2016-19, with recurring elbow/biceps injuries culminating in a July 2018 Tommy John procedure. Richards worked 51 1/3 innings of 4.03 ERA ball over 14 outings (10 starts) with the Padres during the shortened 2020 season, and Boston signed him to a $10MM guarantee heading into last year.
That started unfortunately, as Richards posted a 5.22 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .300/.371/.497 in 22 starts. In mid-August, the Red Sox bumped him out of the rotation into a multi-inning relief role. He began well in his new situation but had a tough final couple weeks of the season. Altogether, Richards posted a 3.42 ERA in 26 1/3 innings over 18 relief appearances late in the year. He struck out a roughly average 24.8% of batters in relief while walking a slightly higher than par 10.6% of opponents.
The Rangers are planning to keep Richards in a relief role this season, Grant tweets. He averaged north of 94 MPH on his heater while generating swinging strikes at a slightly above-average rate on his curveball. Richards adds a high-powered arm to the middle to late innings for skipper Chris Woodward. He becomes the biggest bullpen pickup to date for the Rangers, whose bullpen finished in the bottom ten last season in strikeout/walk rate differential.