Last week it was reported that the Padres designated Clayton Richard for assignment to make room for Ian Kinsler. Most people expected the veteran southpaw to clear waivers and hit the free agent market looking for one last rodeo, but the team found a new home for him and saved some money along the way.
Sounds like the Blue Jays are covering half of Clayton Richard's $3M salary next season. The Padres acquired 25yo Minor League outfielder Connor Panas in the trade.— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) December 30, 2018
If the team had simply released Richard, the Padres would have been on the hook for all of his $3M salary for 2019. Instead, the Blue Jays now have a veteran lefty who may be a useful reliever/swingman for them and the Padres acquired a minor league player while saving a little cash in the deal.
Who’s the new guy?
Connor Panas was drafted out of Canisius College in the 9th round of the 2015 draft. (If Canisius sounds familiar, Padres minor leaguer Dan Dallas was drafted out of Canisius High school in 2016.) A native of Toronto, Panas is entering his age-26 season. He hits from the left side and has played both corner outfield positions as well as first base in his professional career. 2017 was a breakout season for Panas as he hit .276/.364/.475 for the Dunedin Blue Jays of the advanced single-A Florida State League, apparently fueled by what appears to be a bat charging station (but I don’t really understand how the oxygen tanks, defibrillator, and jar of Red Hot form any kind of circuit). A promotion to the AA Eastern League in 2018 coincided with a dip in performance as he hit .232/.296/.359 as both his walk rate and power numbers decreased compared to the prior season. With minor league roster spots becoming increasingly valuable in a stacked system, the team will need to be creative to find a role for Panas. The most likely starting place for him will be in either AA Amarillo or AAA El Paso, where he currently occupies a roster spot. Maybe he can bunk with Josh Naylor and Cal Quantrill, who are also from the Toronto region.
Thank you, Clayton
Since it’s unlikely that 35-year-old Clayton Richard will return for a third stint with the Padres, let’s reflect on what he did with the team. His 58-68 record and 4.37 ERA don’t particularly impress, but his 175 games started ranks seventh all-time and his 1046.1 innings pitched ranks ninth among all players who ever donned an SD cap. He ranks fourth in runs allowed, sixth in homers and seventh in walks, but that’s what happens when you rack up so many innings for one team. Beyond his numbers, his lasting legacy will be his leadership and mentorship, perhaps best highlighted when he took incoming rookies Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer under his wing for a grueling workout before the 2018 season in his home in Indiana. For his role on the team, he was nominated for the Heart and Hustle Award in 2017 and the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award after the 2018 season. He was also the Padres representative on the board for the Taylor Hooton Foundation (raising awareness regarding performance-enhancing drugs) and he and his wife Ashley hosted the “Uncork for a Cause” fundraiser benefitting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego. Clayton and his family have adopted San Diego as their home, so don’t be surprised to see him back with the organization after his playing days are over.