The final piece of the roster puzzle that the Padres were building going into the offseason has now fallen into place. The Padres apparently tried to keep Clayton Richard off the active roster by placing him on outright waivers. This is similar to what is done when a team designates a player for assignment to get them off active or 40 man roster, except this is for players currently on the 60 day DL. No team must have claimed him, so Richard as a 5 year veteran was given the choice to accept the outright assignment or reject it. He rejected it, which meant the Padres had a choice to either put him on the active roster or grant him free agency. The franchise chose the latter.
Even though I can explain the logistics of how this move came about, I am not exactly sure why this path was chosen instead of non-tender. If Richard had accepted the outright assignment, I believe he would have sacrificed his arbitration eligible status and become paid like any other minor leaguer. If it that is the case, then it was logical to assume he would reject the assignment and search for a better paycheck. In effect, the result is similar to a non-tender in that Richard ends up a free agent and no risk that the team has to pay $5M+ in salary to him in 2014. Perhaps there are some deadlines involved here that I am not aware of.
Clayton Richard was acquired in 2009 in the trade that sent Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox. In fact, he is the last player the Padres acquired in that deal that was still with the organization in 2013. Dexter Carter and Aaron Poreda flamed out while in the Padres' farm system (although Poreda had a brief cup of coffee with the Friars). Adam Russell's impact was small, but somewhat promising in 2009 and 2010. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in the Jason Bartlett trade before the 2011 season. So, Richard remained as the last man standing in that deal. In fact, he not only outlasted Peavy's contract signed with the Padres before the trade (it ended after the 2012 season), but also outlasted Peavy's second go-around with White Sox since the past-Padres ace re-signed with the Pale Hose only to get trade to the Red Sox midseason.
Richard looked most promising in 2009 and 2010. In his debut partial-season with the San Diego club he looked like a solid innings eater with the possibly of some upside if he could refine his control. He did just that in 2010 as he threw for 200 innings helping the team contended that year. Then in 2011 a shoulder injury robbed him of an encore. He was never able to to replicate the acceptable strikeout rates and HR rates he had in 2009 and 2010 and went from useful to mediocre to extreme liability become succumbing to the disabled list again in 2013.
I think I speak for many of the friar faithful when I say that in a perfect world we would love to see Clayton and his smile rise from the ashes of injury with the Padres, but the finances and realities of baseball keep us from getting our hopes up. This move seemed like it was in the making for a while, even if the details were a little more complex than originally envisioned.
The Padres' 40 man roster is now set as they enter the offseason. There will be more moves to be sure, but the obligatory ones are taken care of (although Casey Kelly and Yasmani Grandal have yet to be activated, but that is just a formality at this point since there are two spots open on the roster with their names essentially on them). Here's a look at the players that are on said roster:
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