Seattle Mariners: 5 Under-the-Radar Free Agent Targets

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 10: Garrett Richards #43 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches during the first inning of a game against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium on July 10, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 10: Garrett Richards #43 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches during the first inning of a game against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium on July 10, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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RHP GARRETT RICHARDS

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 27: Garrett Richards #43 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the second inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 27, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – MAY 27: Garrett Richards #43 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the second inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 27, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Let me start by saying that the Angels are a horribly run franchise that has absolutely ruined some of the best pitchers in their organization this past decade. My advice to Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney: get out while you can.

Garrett Richards will likely not pitch at the Major League level — or any level for that matter — in 2019. The 30-year-old starter underwent his second career Tommy John surgery just three months ago, seemingly setting his expected return for some time in early 2020. The injury occurred at the worst possible time for Richards, as he will now become a free agent in November, and likely won’t see a lot of interest come his way.

If Richards had remained healthy, he was set to be one of the top targets of this year’s class. Now, he may not even be guaranteed a spot in the rotation of whichever team he makes his return to. For me, I hope it’s the Mariners.

Why not take a small risk on Richards this year on a two-year deal? Signing him this year would simply allow the Mariners to maintain his rights throughout the 2019 season to see what they have for 2020. This would be in the same vein as the Cubs’ deal with Drew Smyly last offseason. It’s a smart move for both sides, as Richards earns some coin to rehab and the Mariners full access to him in that period, to prep him for 2020.

Richards, who hasn’t pitched a full season since 2015, isn’t a stranger to serious injuries. In 2014, he tore the patellar tendon in his left knee, then tore a ligament in his pitching elbow in 2016, requiring his first Tommy John surgery. Coming back from both injuries, however, Richards hasn’t skipped a beat. His velocity and command has remained the same, hopefully indicating that a similar recovery is in his future. For that possibility alone, the Mariners should absolutely jump all over this.

Next. 5 Predictions for the Mariners' Offseason. dark

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