It’s the first week of February and teams that see themselves as contenders still have needs to fill. The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are both seeking a bullpen upgrade, and like the Tampa Bay Rays, have got their interest in Tyler Clippard.
Some are surprised the soon to be 31-year old who last played for the New York Mets in the World Series isn’t signed. However, his numbers weren’t great in 2015. He wasn’t actually bad, with a 2.92 ERA and 1.127 WHIP, but he seemed to fall off dramatically compared to previous years with the Washington Nationals, including two All-Star appearances.
The big problem for Clippard has been his declining velocity and his strikeout-to-walk ratio dropping to just 2.06, although he did bounce back when he played for the Mets compared to his time with the Oakland A’s in the beginning of the year, at least in that aspect. He was the “king” of the fly-ball, accounting for a 60.6% ratio, more than any pitcher with 20 innings or more. He’s also been the most busy reliever since 2010 with 464.1 innings pitched, more than 50 from number two on that list, which is another cause for concern.
He is durable, playing 70 innings or more in six straight seasons. There are enough reasons why to sign him. The issue is with what he thinks he should be paid. It doesn’t seem like there’s anyone left on the market looking to pay $8.3 million a season for a relief pitcher, which is what Clippard made last season, doing better once he got traded to the Mets about halfway through the season.
The Rays need a reliever after trading away two promising talents in Jake McGee and Kevin Jepsen, although they’re not going to win a bidding war with anyone. The Giants have mostly been throwing money at starting pitchers this offseason, but it does seem they need a bit more when it comes to bullpen quality after missing out on “hotter” names up until now. The same can be said of the Dodgers, who mostly made sure their rotation is filled to the brim with quality, while trying to offload at least someone from a packed hitting crew, maybe neglecting a bit the whole reliever thing, at least until now.