Thanks to a unique clause in his contract, Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander Clayton Richard is sitting in an exclusive 72-hour window where he is available to other clubs.
The Chicago Cubs should get in on the action.
According to Nathan Baird of JCOnline, on Tuesday, his “upward mobility” clause went into effect – thus opening a three-day window where the league’s other 29 clubs can make a run at the lefty.
"If any team agrees to put Richard on a big league roster, the Pirates must either promote Richard or trade him to the interested team. If none shows interest, Richard remains at Triple A."
The 31-year-old former Chicago White Sox hurler has not appeared in the big leagues since 2013, when he pitched to a 7.00-plus earned run average as a member of the San Diego Padres in 12 games, including 11 starts.
Since then, however, he’s battled to stay on the mound. He’s had AC joint and thoracic outlet syndrome surgeries, but this season appears to be back on the right track.
Making 10 starts, Richard has allowed three runs or less nine times. His cumulative work in the Minors this year includes 30 strikeouts to just 14 walks, complimenting a sterling 1.89 ERA.
His best season came back in 2010, when he won a career-high 14 games with the Padres. He pitched to a 3.75 ERA, which was backed up by his near-equal 3.81 FIP.
Some may argue that 2012 was a good year for Richard, but his 4.62 FIP and league-leading 31 home runs allowed suggest otherwise. To be fair, he did post a career-best 2.55 strikeout-to-walk ratio, though.
Richard is not a game-changer, but he’s another low-risk, high-reward option for the Cubs to consider.
Richard represents another low-risk, high-upside opportunity for the Chicago Cubs’ front office – which has time and time again capitalized with players looking to re-establish value in recent years.
It’s no secret that the North Siders desperately need to shore up the starting rotation.
Travis Wood opened the season in the Cubs rotation, but after initially struggling, was moved to the bullpen, where he has enjoyed a decent level of success.
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That leaves left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada as the team’s No. 5. starter – and he missed his last start with an injury, so his future, which was far from a sure thing prior to his being sidelined, remains murky.
If Richard is healthy, which he appears to be, the asking price for the former eighth-round pick shouldn’t be overwhelming. Granted, he can hit the open market after the 2015 season, but if he stumbles with Chicago, the team can cut its losses and move on this winter.
However, if he shows that his work this year with Triple-A Indianapolis is no fluke, and continues to flourish under the tutelage of Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio, he may call a new National League Central home for years to come.