The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed left-hander Clayton Richard to a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League camp. Richard missed a lot of the 2014 season after recovering from AC joint surgery in 2013, and thoracic outlet surgery during the 2013-14 off-season. He signed a minor league deal with Arizona mid-season, but only made four appearances between Double-A and Triple-A, with poor results as a starter.
Richard has a good track record of pitching in the majors as a starter, with a 4.33 ERA in 773.1 innings over six years. He struggled in 2013, and that could have been due to the injuries. Prior to that, he looked great, combining for a 3.88 ERA in 520 innings from 2010-12 as a starter for the Padres. That included two seasons where he topped 200 innings.
My guess is that Richard would be considered first for a lefty relief role, since that is a bigger priority for the Pirates. They could use starting pitchers, but they would need someone a lot more reliable than Richard to compete for a job. The key here would be his health. Can he bounce back from the injuries in 2013-14 and go back to his pre-2013 self? If so, he would be a great addition. Some of the best lefty relievers are former starters. Richard was a decent starter when healthy, and that could make him a great reliever if he gets back to being healthy. He might even be a decent depth option for the rotation.
This is a good move for the Pirates, as the cost is minimal, and the potential upside would fill several possible needs for the team.