The Curious Case of Clayton Richard
Something about Clayton Richard to keep in mind as we roll into the final week of Spring Training:
Richard was arbitration-eligible post-2015, but he signed a $2M non-guaranteed contract on the contract tender date (12/2) to avoid getting non-tendered. meaning if he is released within 15 days of MLB Opening Day (technically the MLB regular season starts at 3 PM EDT Sunday 4/3), his termination pay is $500K and the Cubs save $1.5M in payroll.
The contract becomes guaranteed if he is not released by the 4/3 deadline, so if the Cubs release Richard after the start of the MLB regular season, the Cubs are on the hook for the entire $2M, minus whatever Richard gets if he signs with another club (a prorated portion of the MLB minimum salary, but ONLY if he signs a major league contract).
This type of contract is different from the fully-guaranteed contracts MLB Article XX-B free-agents get (like Edwin Jackson's four year deal, for example), in that if the player is released before Opening Day, the player's former team is only responsible for the termination pay (30 days pay if the player is released more than 15 days prior to MLB Opening Day--as happened with Rex Brothers--or 45 days pay if the player is released within 15 days of MLB Opening Day).
If a player signed to a non-guaranteed contract is released prior to the start of the MLB regular season, the player receives termination pay (either 30 days or 45 days pay, depending on when he is released), but the termination pay paid by the player's former club is not offset by whatever the player might get from another club. So rather than sign for the MLB minimum salary with the Cubs responsible for the balance of what the player is owed (as is/was the case with Edwin Jackson until Jackson's four year deal expires after the 2016 season), the Cubs would pay Richard $500K, and nothing Richard gets later from another club changes or offsets Richard's termination pay from the Cubs.
This happened a couple of years ago when the Royals signed IF-OF Emilio Bonifacio to a non-guaranted $3.5M contract to avoid a non-tender but also to avoid salary arbitration, but then released him more than 15 days prior to MLB Opening Day (KC needed his 40-man roster slot), thus owing him 30 days pay (about $575K). The Cubs then signed Bonifacio for $2.5M plus another $425K in incentives (so Bonifacio essentially got the same money he would have gotten if he hadn't been released by KC), but the $575K in termination pay paid by the Royals was not affected or offset in any way by what the Cubs gave Bonifacio.
Clayton Richard has three minor league options left (he's never been optioned to the minors for more than 19 days in any season in his career), but because he is an Article XIX-A player (he has accrued at least five years of MLB Service Time), he cannot be optioned or outrighted to the minor without his permission. This is different than the rights of an Article XX-D player (any player who has accrued at least three years of MLB Service Time and/or who has been outrighted to the minors previously in his career), who has the right to elect free-agency with no termination pay if sent outright to the minors or else accept the Outright Assignment and defer free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season. In addition to having the right to either accept the minor league assignment and postpone free-agency until after the conclusion of the MLB regular season or elect elect free-agency immediately but with no termination pay, Richard (as an Article XIX-A player) has the additional right to refuse any minor league assignment (optional or outright) and force the Cubs to either keep him on the 25-man roster, trade him, or release him.
So normally the Cubs would be unable to option Richard to the minors (because Richard would just decline), but in this particular case, because the Cubs can release him prior to MLB Opening Day and only owe him $500K in termination pay, the Cubs actually have the leverage it would take to get Richard to accept an optional assignment to AAA Iowa AS LONG AS it happens prior to MLB Opening Day.
But once the MLB regular season starts, Richard has the leverage, because if he is released after the start of the MLB regular season, the Cubs would owe him the entire $2M (offset by whatever he subsequently gets from another club up to the MLB minimum salary, presuming he signs a major league contract with another club after getting released).
So don't be surprised if the Cubs either release Clayton Richard prior to MLB Opening Day (saving $1.5M in payroll), or convince him to accept an Optional Assignment to AAA Iowa (thus guaranteeing Richard his entire $2M in salary) where he can be stretched-out as a starter and be available to be recalled if anything happens to Arrieta, Lester, Lackey, Hammel, or Hendricks.
A couple of caveats:
1. An Article XIX-A player who agrees to waive his right to refuse an Optional or Outright assignnment to the minors must sign a 45-day waiver, which allows the player to designate to which minor league club he will be assigned (almost always it's the club's AAA affiliate) and allows the club to option the player back-and-forth to the minors for up to 45 days without having to get the player to agree each time. After the 45 days expire, the Article XIX-A player does not have to be recalled if he is in the minors, but if he is recalled he cannot be optioned back to the minors unless he signs another 45 day waiver, but by that time Richard's contract will be fully-guaranteed, so he would no longer have any reason to accept an assignment to the minor leagues.
2. Optional Asignment Waivers must be secured before Richard could be optioned to the minors, but because Optional Assignment Waivers are revocable the first time they are requested on a player in a given waiver period, they are mostly a formality (just like Trade Assignment Waivers in August). However, a rival club could put in a claim on Richard to keep the Cubs from sending him to the minors and forcing the Cubs to decide whether to keep him on the 25-man roster, trade him, or release him.
Dolorous Jon Lester 32 min 39 sec ago (view)
Lots of games where they failed to add on.
Lots of games Strop has single handedly blown, too.
Charlie 1 hour 2 min ago (view)
There are so many candidates. The early season losing streak comes painfully to mind.
Charlie 1 hour 3 min ago (view)
JHey's swing looks like it slipped into groundout mode. That Nico lineout was heartbreaking. :(
Charlie 1 hour 4 min ago (view)
Threw Vanmeter a curve and changeup that both looked great on TV, though Vanmeter didn't offer.
Mike Wellman 2 hours 48 min ago (view)
First thing I'll point to, depending on the final order of finish, is the fact that, for the second year in a row we took the lead off of Hader in the 8th inning of a key late-season game @ Milwaukee & couldn't keep it. The second thing will be the game we led 5-0 after 7 & managed to lose. Nats next face Marlins. Cards come to town licking their chops/beaks to finish us off...
Dolorous Jon Lester 5 hours 55 min ago (view)
They’re toast. Can’t finish games, can’t finish series, and it looks very much like they won’t finish this season.
Hagsag 7 hours 11 min ago (view)
The Cubbies are in a tough situation. If they make the playoffs, they will have earned it!. Enjoy the ride folks.
Eric S 13 hours 38 min ago (view)
Reds win season series 11-8 - possibly the first thing you point to should the Cubs miss the post season
Eric S 13 hours 45 min ago (view)
Long looking swing for JHey ... and Nico - oof
Eric S 13 hours 46 min ago (view)
Heard Len say Descalso’s name and about had a heart attack. Then heard him say “pinch runner” and settled down a bit
Charlie 13 hours 50 min ago (view)
Contreras's receiving didn't do Norwood any favors in that Vanmeter at-bat. And Norwood needed some favors.
Eric S 13 hours 55 min ago (view)
Gotta do better than three hits in nine innings in a start by Mahle - this one is on the bats
crunch 14 hours 38 sec ago (view)
4th pitcher of the inning coming in...neat
crunch 14 hours 5 min ago (view)
crunch 14 hours 13 min ago (view)
i'm all about kemp protecting a lead in the last few innings or getting to play after some pinch running, but that dude's bat is getting way too much work. now that getting him starts isn't a priority he's still getting a lot of early shots off the bench at the plate.
i hope to not see him next season.
Eric S 14 hours 15 min ago (view)
Until Russell gets off the concussion protocol and/or Baez returns, Kemp may be the best option at second for defense, but Bote certainly better there defensively than Happ or Zobrist