Although it looked like it was coming this past weekend, an Adam Warren minor league option granted lefty Clayton Richard a temporary reprieve on the Chicago Cubs’ roster.
Extremely temporary, as it turns out, because Richard has now been designated for assignment to make room for newly-acquired closer Aroldis Chapman (the package for whom, incidentally, included Warren).
The Cubs will have 10 days to trade, waive, or release Richard, who is currently making $2 million.
This may not be the ultimate end of the Cubs’ relationship with Richard – he was DFA’d by the team almost one year ago to the day – but, if it is, the 2016 season has not at all been what either side hoped for after an impressive 2015.
When the Cubs needed an emergency starter in early July 2015, they managed to snag Richard from the Pirates for $1 thanks to a contract clause that gave him an opportunity to move to another team if the Pirates didn’t bring him up to the Major League team. From there, the Cubs had the opportunity to eventually transition Richard to the bullpen, where he flourished not only as a situational lefty, but also as a multi-inning arm in the Cubs’ “bullpen games” late last season (yes, a team that won 97 games, disproportionately in the second half, had multiple planned “bullpen games,” and they pretty much all worked out well).
This season has been a different story entirely, as Richard was far more hittable, and failed to succeed even as a match-up lefty. At one point, Richard was sent to the minors to stretch out (though he was technically there to rehab a blister/nail issue), but it seems that didn’t quite do the trick. Or maybe the Cubs just ran out of time. When you look at the rest of the bullpen, there really isn’t anyone else who could rightly be sent out at this point. And if you’ve gotta make room for Chapman, it’s gonna have to be Richard that gets bounced.
We’ll see where he goes from here.