Red Sox’ Alex Cora sees a lot of Nathan Eovaldi in newcomer Garrett Richards

When the Red Sox agreed to sign veteran right-hander Garrett Richards to a one-year, $10 million contract last month, they did so knowing there would be some risk involved.

Excluding the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the last time the 32-year-old accrued more than 150 innings pitched in a single campaign came in 2015 when he was a member of the Angels.

In July 2018, his season was cut short due to right elbow UCL damage which would require Tommy John surgery that same month.

Since successfully recovering from the elbow reconstruction, Richards has technically not missed a beat, though he’s made just 17 appearances (13 starts) — all with the Padres — at the major-league level dating back to late September 2019.

Even in a limited sample size, however, the Oklahoma native proved to be effective enough for San Diego in 2020, posting a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 14 outings (10 starts) and 51 1/3 innings pitched while placing in the 82nd percentile in fastball velocity, the 97th percentile in fastball spin, and the 99th percentile in curveball spin among big-league hurlers, per Baseball Savant.

The fact that Richards had quality stuff — and quite frankly has had quality stuff since being selected by the Angels in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft — last year made him appealing to a lot of clubs this offseason, the Red Sox included.

“Stuff-wise, for me, he was one of the best in the league,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Richards’ career when speaking to reporters via Zoom earlier Saturday. “He’s been hurt, but what I saw last year with the Padres was eye-opening. I’m glad that he’s with us. This is a guy that when we talked to him during the offseason, he feels that there’s more. For how veteran he is and his age, he hasn’t wasted too many bullets, right? Because he’s been hurt.”

In Cora’s praise of Richards, the 6-foot-2, 210 lb. righty also drew comparisons to a key member of Boston’s World Series-winning team in 2018 in Nathan Eovaldi.

The Sox acquired Eovaldi in late July of that season, a little less than two years after the flame-throwing right-hander had undergone Tommy John surgery for the second time in his baseball career. He went on to produce a 3.33 ERA over 12 outings (11 starts) and 54 innings to close out the regular season for Boston and a 1.61 ERA over six outings (two starts) and 22 1/3 innings in the postseason.

“It’s pretty similar to what we got in ’18 with Nate, when we traded for him,” said Cora Saturday. “A guy that has been hurt, but we knew at that time that he was going to be okay. Stuff-wise, off the charts.”

While Richards, like Eovaldi, has the potential to do some special things on the mound in 2021, one thing that cannot be ignored about his addition is the veteran presence he provides, especially with the uncertainty stemming from the ongoing pandemic.

“He’s a good teammate, too,” the Sox skipper confidently stated. “He was in a winning situation last year with the Padres and it’s good to have him around. With all the guidelines and everything because of the virus, it’s not that easy to get the groups together like we usually do in meetings to meet people. But, little by little, we will get to know him — we’ll get to know all of them — and he’s somebody that I’m looking forward to pitch every five days and see where he can go.”

Because Cora, who talks to the media first every day, mentioned Eovaldi when praising Richards, the 31-year-old Sox starter, who also spoke to the media on Saturday, was asked about the rotation newcomer and how their situations compare in regards to overcoming injuries.

“Early on, getting to see him throw a couple bullpens, his stuff is so electric,” Eovaldi said of Richards’ pitch repertoire. “The slider, the changeup, the fastball. It all comes out of the hand really well. He’s got a little bit of a different delivery, I think, but he looks great coming into camp. I’m excited to have him here.

“And then getting over the hurdles, I think you just build off of each start,” he continued. “You continuously build, you build that confidence up. I think him being here, our pitching staff, having [pitching coach Dave Bush and bullpen coach Kevin Walker] around, I think that’s going to help him out a lot. Just mainly using his strengths when he’s pitching and just keep attacking.”

At the moment, both Eovaldi and Richards are slated to crack the Red Sox’ Opening Day starting rotation. I would pencil them in to be the team’s No. 2 and No. 3 starters at this point, but that’s really more of a guess than anything.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Red Sox lose right-hander Joel Payamps on waivers to Blue Jays

In the second-most prevalent roster move related to the Red Sox of the day, right-hander Joel Payamps was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays Wednesday evening, per MLB.com’s transaction wire.

Payamps, who turns 27 April, never pitched a game in a Red Sox uniform. He was originally claimed off waivers from the Diamondbacks back in November before getting designated for assignment last week in order for Boston to make room on its 40-man roster for fellow righty Garrett Richards.

Because it took a full seven days for him to be claimed by another club, it appeared as though Payamps was on track to get outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, which would likely lead to him taking part in major-league spring training as a non-roster invite.

That is no longer the case, however, as the Dominican native joins the Blue Jays organization with less than a week to go until pitchers and catchers report to their respective spring training complexes.

Prior to briefly becoming a member of the Red Sox, Payamps had appeared in four total games for the D-backs over the last two seasons and had given up four runs (three earned) over seven total innings pitched at the big-league level. That’s good for an ERA of 3.86 for those keep tracking at home.

And while he is with the Blue Jays for the time being, MLB Trade Rumors’ Jeff Todd noted earlier that “it’s certainly possible [Payamps will] end up on the DFA carousel as teams compete to see who’ll be able to slip him through waivers in hopes of stashing him for depth.”

For what it’s worth, Payamps, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 225 lbs., still has one minor-league option left for 2021, if you were curious.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo was the first to report that Payamps had been claimed by Toronto.

(Picture of Joel Payamps: Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox make Garrett Richards signing official, designate right-hander Joel Payamps for assignment

The Red Sox have officially signed right-hander Garrett Richards to a one-year contract for the 2021 season that includes a club option for 2022, the team announced Wednesday.

In order to make room for Richards on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox also designated fellow righty Joel Payamps for assignment.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Richards will earn a base salary of $8.5 million in 2021. In 2022, his club option is worth at least $10 million, though it could increase to $11 million depending on how many games he starts this year.

Additionally, if Richards’ option for 2022 is not picked up, he will earn $1.5 million in the form of a buyout, so he is guaranteed to make $10 million either way.

The 32-year-old is coming off a 2020 campaign with the Padres in which he posted a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 14 appearances (10 starts) and 51 1/3 innings of work.

Per Baseball Savant, Richards works with a four-seam fastball, a slider, a sinker, and curveball. Last year, his fastball and curveball spin rates placed in the 97th and 99th percentile among major-league pitchers.

A former first-round draft pick of the Angels in 2009 out of the University of Oklahoma, Richards was once regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.

Several stints on the injured list — highlighted by Tommy John surgery in July 2018 — over the years have prevented the Oklahoma native from living up to that potential, but he will certainly have something to offer a Red Sox team whose starting rotation put up the second-worst ERA in baseball (5.34) while finishing second-to-last in innings pitched (246) in 2020.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 lbs., Richards, who actually turns 33 next month, will wear the No. 43 for Boston, becoming the 24th player in team history to do so.

He is scheduled to speak with reporters via Zoom at approximately 4 p.m. eastern time Wednesday.

As for Payamps, the Sox originally claimed the 26-year-old hurler off waivers from the Diamondbacks this past November.

Over the last two seasons, the Dominican right-hander had yielded four runs (three earned) on six hits, six walks, and five strikeouts over four total appearances and seven innings pitched out of the Arizona bullpen.

The Red Sox now have seven days to either trade, release, or sneak Payamps through waivers and outright him to Triple-A Worcester.

Following Wednesday’s transactions, the Sox’ 40-man roster is back at full capacity, which means another move will be required in order to make the signing of left-hander Martin Perez official.

As noted by SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield though, Boston could very well wait to announce the Perez signing until fellow southpaw Chris Sale (Tommy John) is placed on the 60-day injured list at the onset of spring training.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

What the Adam Ottavino trade means for the Red Sox’ 40-man roster

After the Red Sox made their acquisition of right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino from the Yankees official on Monday, the club’s Opening Day roster took another step towards its completion.

That said, the reason the Sox were able to announce the addition of Ottavino so quickly is because they had an open 40-man roster spot for him following the trade that sent infielder C.J. Chatham to the Phillies last week.

Now that the 35-year-old hurler is officially a Red Sox, though, more questions arise pertaining to other players Boston has reportedly signed to major-league contracts recently. Those players would be none other than left-hander Martin Perez, utilityman Enrique Hernandez, and right-hander Garrett Richards, of course.

Perez agreed to a one-year deal with the Sox that includes a club option for 2022 on January 16, Hernandez agreed to a two-year deal on January 22, and Richards agreed to deal with a similar structure to Perez’s on Saturday.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, all three of these deals are still pending physicals and likely won’t be made official until later this week.

Between now and the time said deals are made official, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will have some tough decisions to make when it comes to trimming down the club’s 40-man roster in order to accommodate Perez, Hernandez, and Richards.

One way to make room for this trio would be designate three players currently on the 40-man for assignment. Right-handers Joel Payamps, Chris Mazza, and Marcus Walden, left-hander Jeffrey Springs, and outfield prospect Marcus Wilson were among the candidates Cotillo suggested could be DFA’d.

Another way to make room, or at least make room for one player, would be for the Red Sox to trade a DFA candidate to another club in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, as they did with Chatham. That way, a 40-man roster spot could be cleared to go along with some compensation in return.

Finally, there is the Dustin Pedroia conundrum that needs to be addressed. Again, this only creates a resolution for one spot but it seems pretty apparent that Pedroia, who has played in just nine total games the last three seasons, will not play out the final year of his contract.

The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham reported last week that the 37-year-old second baseman “is not planning a comeback and a resolution could come this month.”

Given the fact that Pedroia is somewhat of a franchise legend, Abraham noted that while the Sox “will want to do this correctly,” they are also running low on non-impact players on their 40-man roster.

Put another way, cutting Pedroia now as opposed to giving him a ceremonial sendoff in-season would not do the former American League MVP’s legacy justice.

So, the Red Sox have some roster-related decisions to make and they do not have much time to make them. What sort of moves will Bloom have in store? We will have to wait and see.

(Picture of Adam Ottavino: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox, right-hander Garrett Richards agree to one-year, $10 million deal that includes $10 million team option for 2022

The Red Sox and free-agent right-hander Garrett Richards are in agreement on a one-year, $10 million contract for the 2021 season, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal is pending a physical.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier adds that Richards’ deal with Boston includes a $10 million club option for 2022 and a buyout, which includes escalators “that would increase both the option salary and the cost of the buyout.”

Richards, 32, posted a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 14 outings (10 starts) and 51 1.3 innings of work for the Padres last season.

The 2020 campaign marked the California native’s first “full” season in quite a while on account of the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2018.

Prior to undergoing the knife nearly three years ago, Richards — a former first-round pick of the Angels in 2009 — was once a highly-touted prospect with the potential to become a frontline starter at the major-league level.

Multiple stints on the injured list have prevented that from happening to this point, but Richards still has plenty of appeal, as last season he placed in the 82nd percentile in fastball velocity, the 97th percentile in fastball spin, and the 99th percentile in curveball spin among big-league hurlers, per Baseball Savant.

Working with a four-seamer, a curveball, and a slider, the former Oklahoma Sooner will look to provide the Sox with the rotation help they are in desperate need.

Boston is after all coming off a 2020 season in which club starters put up the second-worst ERA in baseball (5.34) while finishing second-to-last in innings pitched (246).

The likes of Richards, fellow right-handers Matt Andriese and Garrett Whitlock, and left-hander Martin Perez should address those issues to some degree, though it should be interesting to see if the Red Sox are now out of the running for Jake Odorizzi given these other additions.

By reportedly signing Richards, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 lbs., and utilityman Enrique Hernandez, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have had themselves quite the weekend already.

They will, however, have to clear one spot on Boston’s 40-man roster given the fact that it is currently at 39 players following the trade that sent C.J. Chatham to the Phillies earlier this week.

We will have to wait and see what the Sox have in mind in order to make that happen before the Richards and Hernandez signings become official.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox in ‘active discussions’ with free-agent right-hander Garrett Richards, per report

In the wake of reportedly agreeing to a two-year deal with utilityman Enrique Hernandez, the Red Sox are also in active discussions with free-agent right-hander Garrett Richards, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

Per Morosi, multiple clubs were talking with Richards as recently as Friday.

Richards, 32, is coming off a 2020 season with the Padres in which he posted a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 14 outings (10 starts) and 51 1/3 innings of work.

The 2020 campaign marked Richards’ first ‘full’ season in quite a while, as the California native was limited to just three starts with the Pads in September 2019.

That was the case because the righty had been recovering from Tommy John Surgery, which he underwent as a member of the Angels in July 2018.

At one point in time, Richards — a former first-round pick of Los Angeles in 2009 — was viewed as the Halos’ future ace who would take over for longtime stalwart Jered Weaver.

That vision never came to fruition, though, as the one-time Oklahoma Sooner dealt with his fair share of injuries in his time with the Angels that was capped off by undergoing TJS in ’18.

With the Padres, however, Richards showed some flashes of what made him a special prospect in the first place, especially this past season.

Despite putting up a so-s0 4.03 ERA, the 6-foot-2, 210 lb. hurler placed in the 82nd percentile in fastball velocity, the 97th percentile in fastball spin, and the 99th percentile in curveball spin among major-league pitchers, per Baseball Savant. His pitch mix also includes a ‘wipeout’ slider.

To put it in simpler terms, Richards is somewhat of a ‘Statcast darling,’ as @RedSoxStats put it.

With that high upside potential in mind, it’s possible that Richards, who does not turn 33 until May, is currently in search of a multi-year contract.

MLB Trade Rumors predicted back in November that the ISE Baseball client would net himself a two-year, $16 million deal this winter.

Even after signing the likes of Martin Perez and Matt Andriese to one-year deals and adding swingman candidate Garrett Whitlock via the Rule 5 Draft, Boston still finds themselves in need of starting pitching help as spring training draws closer.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said on the SoxProspects.com podcast earlier this week that he is hopeful the club will be able to make more moves between now and Opening Day.

“I think we have a chance to surprise some people in 2021,” he said. “And I’m hopeful and believe very much we’re going to do a few more things before Opening Day that will supplement this club.”

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)