Blue Jays release veteran starting pitcher Clayton Richard

Happy birthday, Clayton. You're a free agent now. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Happy birthday, Clayton. You're a free agent now. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

As the 2019 Toronto Blue Jays’ season crawls towards a merciful ending, the final few transactions of the regular season have begun to trickle out. The next major milestone for clubs out of the playoff race is to organize the 40-man roster for the offseason’s Rule 5 draft, with front offices keeping every single valuable roster slot in mind and accounted for into the future.

A spot on the Blue Jays’ roster was made available Thursday afternoon at the expense of veteran starting pitcher Clayton Richard who was released by the team, according to Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae.

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Richard — whose 36th birthday is today — made 10 starts for the Blue Jays this season. He held a 5.96 ERA over 45.1 innings, posting no real numbers of any significance in either direction otherwise. He had two lengthy stints on the injured list this year, starting off the season with a right knee stress reaction, and again in mid-July with a lat strain that he is yet to return from.

He was acquired in a December trade for prospect Connor Paras after spending the previous eight seasons pitching for the San Diego Padres. Richard was one of a small handful of veteran pitching signings along with Clay Buchholz, Matt Shoemaker, Edwin Jackson and Bud Norris that did little more than provide the Blue Jays with the technical definition of eating up innings.

Over 11 MLB seasons, Richard now reenters free agency with a 4.51 career ERA over 1284.2 innings pitched. His two biggest traits — his left handedness and pulse — could mean one more team takes a shot at handing him the ball next season.

With the room made by releasing Richard, 19-year-old pitcher Elvis Luciano, the team’s own Rule 5 claim from December, has been activated from the 60-day injured list. In his first 27.2 innings in the major leagues — his only season at a level above rookie ball — Luciano carries a 6.51 ERA.

The timing of Luciano’s return allows the Jays to meet the active days minimum required to retain his rights indefinitely.

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