After spending the first 12 years of his professional career with teams based in Southern California, Garrett Richards entered free agency in search of a different challenge. His three months on the free market have taken him to a place far from the coast that he has called home since his major league debut in 2011.
Richards, who turns 33 in May, was drafted by the Angels in 2009 and pitched for them for eight seasons in the big leagues before joining the Padres as a free agent in December 2018. The Oklahoma native spent two years in San Diego before hitting free agency after season and wound up with the Red Sox on a one-year, $ 10 million contract with a club option that became official Wednesday afternoon.
As Richards considered potential destinations, he found the possibility of planting on the east coast particularly appealing.
“I’ve spent my entire career on the West Coast,” Richards said Wednesday. “I’ve pretty much covered from (the west coast) to Texas, quite frequently throughout my career. It was something we thought was a new opportunity, something different. Something new and exciting. To play in this division you have to make sure that your game is at a high level. I think it will be something good for me. Plus a chance to see the other side of the country.
Richards will meet a few familiar faces in the Red Sox clubhouse, as he went through the miners with reliever Ryan Brasier and was a teammate with outfielder Hunter Renfroe in San Diego in 2019. As he gathered information before taking His decision, Richards relied on another former Padres teammate, former Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland, for some answers.
“He had nothing but good things to say about the Red Sox,” said Richards. “From top to bottom, they’re first-rate with the way they run family affairs and how they give their players everything they need to be successful. Obviously, they won championships. They have gained a lot over the past 10 years. It was a bit obvious to me. Obviously I want to go somewhere that ticks a lot of boxes. I wanted to go somewhere that would provide whatever we can to win football games. “
Richards pitched at Fenway Park four times in his career, although he doesn’t have the best memories of the historic baseball stadium. In August 2014, he suffered a season-ending knee injury while attempting to cover the first goal on a double play. In those outings, he has a combined ERA of 10.80.
Throwing against the Red Sox, Richards always noticed how much fun his opponents seemed to be having on the pitch. He has long admired the organization from thousands of miles away.
“I’m not getting any younger and at this point in my career winning becomes a main factor in deciding where I want to play,” he said. “Obviously, a historic franchise like the Red Sox taking an interest in me and showing that they really wanted me to come and play for them made me want to come and play for them. I think it works both ways. showed a lot of interest and were sincere. I looked at it as a challenge, playing in this division, but also knowing that I was going to a team that was going to score points and have a lot of fun. These guys always have the Looks like having a blast. It’s the kind of team I want to be part of. “
Richards will join Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, Martin Perez and others in the Boston rotation mix to start the season, with ace Chris Sale set to return from Tommy John surgery at some point during the season. summer. Richards looks forward to getting to know his fellow rotation.
“I think (the rotation is) solid,” he said. “When you pick up Chris Sale it’s a huge addition to your rotation. But Nathan Eovaldi has more stuff, this guy is so much fun to watch. (Martin) Perez just signed again. I played in the minor leagues against him. An incredible arm. It’s going to be a chance for us to go out and pitch. I know we’re going to go out and score some points.
“A good rotation is one that enjoys being together and enjoys talking about the game a lot,” he added. “I’m excited to start picking brains. “