Now a free agent, Garrett Richards is an interesting case for the Toronto Blue Jays. The question now is, should the Blue Jays go after him in free agency?
Garrett Richards was, for a while, one of the more consistent arms in the Los Angeles Angels rotation. In 2015, he pitched to an ERA of 3.65 in over 200 innings, following that up with an effective, albeit short, 2016 season where he again showed his chops in limited action.
Fresh off Tommy John surgery, Richards, 30, will now enter free agency with the hopes of rebounding and earning himself a sufficient, multi-year contract. Should the Toronto Blue Jays, starving for arms, go after him?
It’s worth noting outright that Richards isn’t exactly an under-the-radar choice. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweeted Thursday that “12 teams have called this week”. On top of that, Nicholson-Smith notes that the Blue Jays aren’t believed to be among the teams that have called, at least at this point.
Is it a sure thing that the Jays will back down? No, in fact, they could spring back into the race at any moment and sign him to a deal. It’s just important, and rather interesting to note, that they’re currently not in the running for his services, though it is very early.
As for Richards himself, he represents an interestingly underrated arm on the free agent market. He was, as mentioned above, a decently reliable starter in his prime with the Angels. While no longer a young arm by any stretch, he could come of some value if signed to a two or three year deal at the right price.
Assuming the Blue Jays are simply looking to have innings eaten up next season, Richards sounds like the perfect name to add to their shoestring 2019 starting rotation. He could, if healthy, pitch 150 to 175 innings and could fill in admirably as a fourth or fifth arm, although he obviously won’t be doing that in 2019 as he continues his recovery.
Of course, those future inning totals hinge on his health, which is somewhat questionable after undergoing the dreaded Tommy John surgery in July. Many pitchers, including the above mentioned Michael Pineda and Drew Smyly, were given two-year deals after the surgery, allowing them time to rehab in the team’s facilities and allowing the team to get them on a cheaper, more financially efficient deal.
If he’s willing to agree to deal of that style, he could be a relative bargain. He could, if the rehab process goes exceptionally well, even pitch for the 2019 team, even if it is only near the end of the season. Any deal he signs would be primarily for the case of having him pitch in 2020, and perhaps, beyond.
Regardless, Richards seems like just one name that could be of great interest to an inevitably active front office this offseason. They need pitching, of that there is no doubt, and low cost, relatively proven arms should be at the top of their winter checklist.