Should the Texas Rangers pursue the injured Garrett Richards?
By Travis Koch
Though doubtful to pitch in 2019, Garrett Richards should be on the Texas Rangers’ offseason radar. After all, Texas has their target honed in on 2020.
The Texas Rangers should have an improved product on the field next season, but don’t get caught up in any playoff hopes. Their rebuild is all too real, and such hopes should be put off until at least 2020. I understand that’s not what fans want to hear; however, there is some opportunity in a flexible timeline.
The opportunity? Instead of frantically compiling a team to win next year, they can be patient and deliberately compile a quality roster for two or three years down the road.
That means the Rangers can sign players to multi-year deals, which gives them bargaining power over teams that are living with a one year window. Also, they can sign players who might not even be healthy next season, like Garrett Richards.
The former Los Angeles Angel and current free agent, Richards made only 16 starts in 2018 before he was shutdown in order to undergo Tommy John surgery. The surgery took place in July and Richards is not expected to throw his next pitch in the big leagues until 2020.
Guess what? The Texas Rangers aren’t expected to be competitive until 2020. That begs the question…should they try to sign Garrett Richards?
More from Texas Rangers News
- 3 Texas Rangers outfield trade targets not named Bryan Reynolds
- Did Jacob deGrom really mean what he said at his Texas Rangers press conference?
- Martin Perez accepting the qualifying offer looking like solid deal for the Rangers
- 4 outfielders the Texas Rangers can still pursue this winter
- Is a six-man rotation in the Texas Rangers’ near future?
His talent is without question. Per FanGraphs, the 30-year-old averaged a fastball velocity of 96.3 mph in 2018, which would’ve slotted him behind only Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole as the fastest average for a starting pitcher had he qualified with enough innings.
Richards can bring the heat, but he also possesses a wipeout slider and a good changeup. He has the type of stuff that will not only get a hitter’s attention, but also a spectator’s. Personally, he’s one of my favorite players to watch pitch when he is at his best.
The problem is Garrett Richards is rarely at his best. Not because he’s inconsistent throwing the ball, but because he can’t stay healthy. After tossing 207.1 innings in 2015, Richards tossed 34.2 in 2016, 27.2 in 2017 and 76.1 in 2018. Sadly, one of baseball’s premier talents just can’t stay on the field.
The past few years have been a struggle for Richards; though, therein lies the opportunity for the Texas Rangers. Given his injury history and his delayed return to baseball, it’s unlikely Richards gets much traction on the free agent market. Only teams with the “2020 and beyond” mindset should be interested.
I’d like to see the Rangers make a run at him. They can set aside a money amount that justifies any risk. If Richards can’t regain his dominant stuff then so be it. If he can, suddenly Texas has a ace-type arm at the ready in 2020.
Garrett Richards’ situation actually compares to that of Drew Smyly‘s. Of course, the Texas Rangers acquired Smyly from the Cubs about a week ago. Chicago had signed him to a 2-year/$10 million deal prior to the 2018 season. At the time of the signing, Smyly had been recovering from Tommy John. He never threw a regular season pitch for the Cubbies before being traded.
Hopefully the scenario would play out better if the Rangers were to sign Garrett Richards. But do you really think the Cubs are sweating the $3 million lost in Smyly? (The Rangers are paying the remaining $7 million by the way.)