Angels, Richards avoid arbitration …

The Angels avoided arbitration with starting pitcher Garrett Richards on Saturday, agreeing to terms on a $3.2 million contract for the 2015 season.

With Richards done, the Angels’ only remaining arbitration-eligible player – from a list that was eight deep earlier in January – is outfielder Matt Joyce, who’s heading into his final season before free agency.

Richards looked like the Angels’ trickiest arbitration case, because he was in his first of four arbitration years after qualifying as a Super Two, was coming off a breakthrough year in the rotation and ended the 2014 season recovering from knee surgery.

Upon suffering a torn patellar tendon in his left knee while covering first base at Fenway Park on Aug. 20, Richards was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 26 starts. The 26-year-old right-hander had 4.33 ERA in 216 innings while shuffling between the rotation and bullpen the previous two years, then emerged as an American League Cy Young Award candidate in his first full season in the rotation.

But the Angels were wary of setting a financial precedent with three arbitration years still left, and both sides exchanged figures on Jan. 17. The Angels submitted $2.4 million and Richards’ side, led by agent Fred Wray of Relativity Sports, countered with $3.8 million. Both sides ultimately agreed to a figure $100,000 above the midway point, 11 days before Richards’ scheduled arbitration hearing.

Richards has spent the offseason working out in Arizona. He’s been playing catch since early December, began running in early January and is expected to run at full intensity this coming week, at which point he can begin throwing off a mound.

Richards is currently on track to be ready by Opening Day, but the Angels will take it slow with him in Spring Training.

The Angels previously avoided arbitration with David Freese ($6.425 million), Hector Santiago ($2.29 million), Fernando Salas ($1.37 million), Cesar Ramos ($1.312 million), Collin Cowgill ($995,000) and Drew Butera ($987,500). Vinnie Pestano also avoided arbitration in November for $1.15 million.

Joyce’s camp submitted a figure of $5.2 million and the Angels countered with $4.2 million.

The Angels haven’t gone to arbitration since Jered Weaver in 2011.

Alden 

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