Red Sox News: Mitch Moreland influenced Garrett Richards decision to sign

Sep 13, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Garrett Richards (43) pitches during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Garrett Richards (43) pitches during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

Garrett Richards mentions Mitch Moreland’s influence in choosing Red Sox

For the second time this offseason, Mitch Moreland has helped recruit a free agent to the Boston Red Sox. Garrett Richards spoke to the media this afternoon and mentioned how big of a role Boston’s former first baseman played in his eventual decision to sign with the Red Sox.

Richards and Moreland were briefly teammates in 2020 after Boston shipped the latter to the San Diego Padres during last season’s trade deadline. Suffice to say, even after being traded to a new team, Moreland had no ill-will to his former teammate and has now successfully recruited both Richards and right fielder Hunter Renfroe to the team.

Richards’ deal was officially announced this afternoon, with early offseason waiver claim Joel Payamps being designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. His deal is for $8.5 million in 2021 and includes a $10 million option for 2022 with a buyout of $1.5 million.

Once again, the Red Sox 40-man pool is full, still needing to clear one additional spot as the team has yet to officially announce the re-signing of Martin Perez.

The 32-year-old Richards is primed to play a significant role in Boston this season. The right-hander has a track record for success and was very efficient early in his career with the Angels. Unfortunately, he fell victim to the notorious Tommy John Surgery in 2018, effectively bringing his days with the Angels to an end. He then latched on with the Padres, signing for two years. After pitching eight innings in late 2019, he finished his 2020 campaign with a 4.03 ERA over 51.1 innings.

Richards gives Boston both depth and a much needed right-handed pitcher to mix in with the troupe of left-handers in the mix to be part of the starting five. Boston has seen no shortage of under the radar activity to bolster the rotation as the team has continued to creatively add options to start games for the upcoming season.

In Richards, the team was able to please the demanding fans with a name that is known in the baseball community. He has primarily pitched on the West coast after spending eight years with the Angels and two with the Padres. He did notably cite a desire to switch things up geographically and see what life as a pitcher was like over on the East coast. This was another factor that played into his decision to choose Boston as his third team over the span of his ten-year career.

The Mets (another East coast team) made a play for Richards and he still chose the Red Sox, which says a great deal about his trust in Boston’s direction as a franchise. Fellow offseason signee Kiké Hernandez mentioned last night that he felt the Red Sox were being written off going into 2021 and found appeal in the underdog status. It is safe to say that whatever Moreland has been telling Boston targets has been doing wonders as he has successfully sold two players on what it means to play for the Red Sox.

Moreland himself has yet to sign with a team to this point in the offseason. He has recently been cited as a potential candidate to sign back with the Red Sox. Boston is known to be in the market for a left-handed hitting fixture to share time with right-handed hitting rookie Bobby Dalbec, who exploded on to the scene late last season. Dalbec hit eight tape measure home runs in just 77 at-bats. He did, however, go down swinging in nearly half of his plate appearances with 37 strikeouts to end the season. A complementary platoon partner makes sense and if anyone would be the right choice to mentor Boston’s youth, it’s Moreland.

Boston’s ties to Moreland come as no surprise given his track record of success with the team. And hey — after successfully recruiting two players to the Red Sox without being a member of the roster, it’s safe to say he has earned the right to be given a contract from a clubhouse presence point of view.

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All in all, Richards sounds excited to see a new opportunity on an opposite coast and figures to be a solid right-handed fixture in a lefty-heavy starting rotation.