The news: Padres pitcher Clayton Richard, who finished the season on the 60-day DL, rejected an outright assignment to the minors on Monday and became a free agent. Gaslamp Ball has the details.
Richard was the centerpiece of the 2009 trade that sent Jake Peavy from San Diego to Chicago, and for a while it looked like the Padres got a bargain. He pitched 201.2 innings in 2010, posting a 3.75 ERA. Shortly after that, though, the injury bug struck.
Richard was limited to just 18 starts in 2011, bounced back to have another solid season in 2012 but got hurt again in 2013, eventually having season-ending surgery to alleviate pressure on his shoulder. He had a 7.01 ERA before going on the DL.
Obviously there are concerns with Richard, who has been both injured and bad recently. The fact that he's dealing with a shoulder issue is a big red flag: That's not an issue that typically goes away. With that said, guys who can throw 200+ innings with ERAs under 4 don't grow on trees.
Can he help this team? I'll say maybe. I'm encouraged by the fact that Richard has been a workhorse when healthy. I also think his shoulder surgery has a silver lining, as it was intended to eliminate future recurrences of issues with his AC joint and showed no structural damage to the shoulder itself.
However, I don't know how a pitcher with a ~4 ERA at Petco Park will translate to a much more hitter-friendly facility in Milwaukee. Even when he's healthy, Richard's strikeout numbers are pretty low. He relies heavily on a defense that won't always bail him out if he's a Brewer.
What do I think the Brewers should do? It's hard to predict what the market will look like for Richard, and we also don't know if he could pass a physical at this point. With that said, he could be worth a flyer as a reclamation project. My offer to him would look something like one year, $3 million with major incentives and a vesting option for 2015.