The San Diego Padres have struck a deal with free-agent righty Garrett Richards, beating out the Los Angeles Dodgers to sign the right-hander.
It is a two-year deal worth a hefty $15 million, with the potential for $18 million if he reaches his incentives.
It is certainly a gamble for the Padres, as Richards has struggled with injuries and is coming off of Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in July of 2018. Richards has clearly taken the same path as other Tommy John pitchers, like Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda. The Padres are hoping that Richards will have the same success as those two with the signing.
The former top prospect has been solid when he hasn’t been injured, as shown by his 2014 season where he pitched 168 ⅔ innings with a 2.61 ERA, 2.60 FIP, and a 3.15 xFIP, with an impressive 8.59 K/9 and a 2.71 BB/9. He was having a good bounce-back season in 2018 with a 3.66 ERA, 4.13 FIP, and a 3.62 xFIP in 76 ⅓ innings, with a career-high 10.26 K/9 until his injury.
With the timetable of his surgery, Richards, in fact, may not pitch at all in 2019.
San Diego also hasn’t had a lot of success with their Tommy John recipients, evidenced by Josh Johnson and Cory Luebke. Clearly, San Diego is banking on Richards being the next Robbie Erlin and, with a multi-year deal, have an eye towards the future as Richards fits the front office’s viewpoint of 2020 being the start of the competitive window.
His signing is a very big gamble, but there is potential for a big payoff with little risk.
His signing could symbolize that one or two starters may be making their exit from the team, either by release or trade. At worst, Richards will become another Josh Johnson for San Diego, but at best, he could be a fixture for the next Padres playoff team.