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Richards signs two-year deal with Padres

MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres entered the offseason in search of pitching help beyond the 2019 season and into the future.

They've signed former Angels right-hander Garrett Richards to a two-year contract, the Padres announced Friday. And they did so for precisely that reason.

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres entered the offseason in search of pitching help beyond the 2019 season and into the future.

They've signed former Angels right-hander Garrett Richards to a two-year contract, the Padres announced Friday. And they did so for precisely that reason.

Richards is recovering from Tommy John surgery performed in July, and the deal is worth $15 million, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.

It's unclear whether Richards, 30, will be healthy enough to return from surgery during the 2019 season. But the deal was clearly made with '20 in mind. The Padres have a glut of young pitching prospects, but their rotation remains wide open for the future, and they believe their window for contention in the National League West might open in the '20 season.

Richards has a 45-38 record and a 3.54 ERA in eight MLB seasons, all spent with the Angels. He posted a 3.66 mark in 16 starts this year -- before he was shut down in July.

Richards has only made 28 starts over the past three seasons combined, mostly due to his arm troubles. In 2016, he opted for rehab and stem cell injections over Tommy John surgery, and he missed most of the season. He then missed most of the '17 campaign with a biceps injury.

When healthy, however, Richards clearly brings a lot to the table. He's made 86 starts in the past five seasons. Among the 105 pitchers to start as many games in that span, Richards' 3.15 ERA ranks 13th. His fastball routinely hits the upper-90s, and his curveball is one of the highest-spin pitches in the sport.

The Padres' thinking is pretty clear here: They're banking on Richards returning and becoming that kind of top-tier starting pitcher for the 2020 season. If he does, they're hopeful he's an important piece in a playoff-caliber rotation.

The Padres' 2018 starting staff featured a trio of rookies in Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer and Jacob Nix, who will factor into the club's plans moving forward. Chris Paddack and Logan Allen, both ranked among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects, are expected to debut this year. Fellow Top 100 pitchers MacKenzie Gore, Adrian Morejon, Michel Baez, Luis Patino and Ryan Weathers are also waiting in the wings.

It's an incredibly deep system, and there's a clear plan for those youngsters to ultimately take over the rotation. But the Padres would like to complement them with experienced big league arms, too.

They've done exactly that by signing Richards, and they probably aren't be done on the pitching front this offseason either.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Garrett Richards