With less than 10 days remaining before the July 31st
non-waiver trade deadline passes few deals of any real significance have been made. There are a few factors contributing to the relative absence of activity so far. The newly created Wild Card in each league was intended to keep more clubs in contention longer, which has been the case, but because teams winning a Wild Card are only guaranteed a single play-in game few clubs want to sacrifice futures in deals for veterans to boost their odds of making the playoffs if that won’t even ensure them at least one home postseason contest.
In addition the new CBA no longer provides for draft pick compensation for losing a free agent unless the player was on the club’s roster for the entire season. Teams adding a pending free agent mid-season are not allowed to collect draft pick compensation should they offer the player arbitration and lose him to another club. This means fewer teams are willing to pay a premium in prospect value for a “rental.”
Now many clubs are looking instead at dealing for players that come with contractual control beyond the balance of this season. Knowing they can hold onto a player beyond this year provides security to teams looking to acquire that player since not only will the player bolster the club’s postseason chances this year but they can impact next season’s playoff race as well. This is why teams are pursuing 3B Chase Headley and have called the Friars on LHP Clayton Richard.
Richard is just 28, is making $2.705M this season before hitting arbitration again and is not eligible for free agency until after the 2014 season. Currently he ranks fourth in MLB in IP with 135.1. Teams looking for an innings-eater for the back of their rotation could do worse than Richard. According to this tweet
Wednesday from Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the Tigers, White Sox and Orioles have each contacted the Padres about Richard.
Richard’s K% of 12.8% is nearly 7 points below the league average of 19.6% but while he isn’t striking a lot of batters out he also isn’t walking many (5.0% BB% is 3.1% lower than the average). He boasts a solid GB/FB rate of 1.99 but has been somewhat homer-prone allowing 1.26 HR/9 (league average is 1.02). With his K% down and HR/9 rate up he could make a lot of sense for a team in a pitcher-friendly park.
Let’s look at the club’s that have been linked to Richard by Morosi, see how the southpaw might fit in and what kind of yield he might bring in return.
Detroit – Aside from last year’s AL Cy Young and MVP winner, Justin Verlander, the Tigers starting pitching has been inconsistent. They have been linked also with Matt Garza of the Cubs, Jason Vargas of the Mariners and James Shields of the Rays so no question they are looking hard for a rotation upgrade. Their home park, Comerica, favors hitter slightly (101 Park Factor according to Baseball Reference, with anything above 100 favoring hitters).
Detroit doesn’t boast a deep system and the Friars certainly won’t pry Nick Castellanos, Jacob Turner or Andy Oliver from the Tigers for Richard. However the Padres might be able to land someone like LHP Alex Burgos (Tigers 11th
best prospect according to MLB.com), RHP Brenny Paulino (#9) or RHP Kevin Eichhorn (#12) as the base of a return package.
Chicago – The White Sox are expected to shut down young hurler Chris Sale at some point this season to limit the wear and tear on his pitching arm. A guy like Richard could conceivably slide in and fill a void in the rotation in that scenario. US Cellular is more of a hitter’s park than Comerica (105 Park Factor).
The White Sox farm system is one of the worst in baseball. Still they have a young hard-throwing RHP that could interest San Diego. Jacob Petricka (#6 in Chicago’s system) is a potential big league starter though is likely at least a couple years away.
Baltimore – The Orioles have gotten unexpectedly strong performances from Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel but with Hammel on the DL the Orioles are in a dire straits when it comes to their starting pitching. They, like the Tigers have been linked to a number of potentially available arms including Vargas.
As discussed in earlier installments, the Orioles have guys like Matusz and Schoop that could interest the Friars. The contractual control that would come with acquiring Richard might make a trade more palatable for an Orioles club not likely to hold on in the Wild Card race this year.
Another option I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere but that makes sense to me is the Mets. They just lost LHP Johan Santana and weren’t particularly deep in starting pitching to begin with. They won’t give up guys like Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler or Jeurys Familia to get Richard but maybe RHP Rafael Montero or Domingo Tapia, ranked the Mets 9th
best prospects respectively by MLB.com, could get the ball rolling in discussions. Both pitchers are young, 21 and 20, and they boast excellent stuff with solid chances to remain in the rotation with some extra polish.
My guess is it will take a team willing to part with a solid package to pry Richard from San Diego. He might not be anything more than slightly above league-average but any LHP that can throw 200 innings of league average ball has value. Considering he still has two years of team control Richard is likely to be in demand in the coming days.