Tyler Clippard Rumors

Rosenthal’s Latest: Dodgers, Mets, Hamels, Jays, Astros

An elite starting pitcher was a luxury good for the Dodgers, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That’s why Los Angeles passed on talents like Cole Hamels, David Price, and Johnny Cueto despite possessing the prospect depth to acquire their pick of the litter. Instead, the club flexed its financial might to acquire Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan, and Jose Peraza. The biggest piece dealt away by the Dodgers was 30-year-old Cuban infielder Hector Olivera. The utility man has not yet reached the majors after signing a six-year, $62.5MM deal with the Dodgers. A full $28MM of that was in the form of a signing bonus.

Here’s more from Rosenthal:

  • Cynics may find a way to criticize the Mets deadline transactions. Perhaps they didn’t add enough to the payroll or were too small minded? However, the moves for Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe provided essential upgrades to a roster that was showing signs of stress. GM Sandy Alderson deserves kudos for improving the club while working within tight constraints. To me, this was Rosenthal’s money quote, “Mets fans will not be satisfied –€“ and should not be satisfied –€“ until the team raises its payroll to a level more commensurate with the New York market.
  • Echoing the sentiments of many analysts, both the Phillies and Rangers did well in the Hamels trade. With the Phillies taking on Matt Harrison and chipping in cash, the Rangers will pay Hamels an average of $13MM to $14MM per season if his option vests. They also hung onto top prospects Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. On Philadelphia’s end, acquiring three quality prospects will do much to bolster their future.
  • The Blue Jays, unlike the Dodgers, are often described as a cash strapped organization. Instead of taking on payroll like L.A., the Blue Jays dealt 11 prospects and Jose Reyes to acquire Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe, and LaTroy Hawkins. They’re 6.5 games back in the AL East and 1.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot.
  • The Astros also spent their prospect chips for major league upgrades. They made the first deadline strike by acquiring Scott Kazmir then paid a princely sum for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. Interestingly, mid-market teams like the Astros, Blue Jays, Mets, and Royals used prospects in their search for October baseball. The Yankees and Dodgers opted to use money or stand pat.

Mets Notes: Upton, Bruce, Wheeler

The latest post-deadline news out of Queens..

  • The Mets also discussed Justin Upton before dealing for Yoenis Cespedes, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  The Mets preferred Cespedes in part because of his defense and the Padres also pulled back near the end.
  • A Jay Bruce deal was on the table for a week before the Reds backed out and decided they wanted more from the Mets, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (Twitter links).  While talks were serious and the teams exchanged medical info, the deal never got all that close to happening.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that he discussed adding another bullpen arm with teams, but he’s happy with the Tyler Clippard addition, Adam Rubin of ESPN.com tweets.  The GM also noted that there are waiver trades in August, which could be an indication of what’s to come.
  • Zack Wheeler called Alderson early this afternoon and expressed his desire to stay and the GM said that made an impact on him, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets.
  • Alderson says the Mets are going for it, but wouldn’t term it as playoffs-or-bust, Matt Ehalt of The Record tweets.

Impact Of Clippard Deal: Beane On A’s, Latest On Zobrist

Earlier today, the Mets added a late-inning relief arm in Tyler Clippard. That move did not come as a major surprise, but it nevertheless created a ripple effect for the two teams involved, as well as the rest of the market.

  • Most notably, perhaps, Athletics GM Billy Beane indicated in his comments on the deal that the team could continue to build up lower-level prospect depth in its summer trades, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports“The Houston Astros have done a really good job of spending the last three or four years really creating a dynamic farm system,” said Beane, “and now they’re starting to reap the rewards of that. If we’re ever going to compete, we’re probably going to have to take a somewhat similar approach and at least make sure we’ve got young players that are coming through the system that will be here for a few years.” Oakland acquired younger players in both the Clippard trade and the earlier swap involving Scott Kazmir, marking something of a departure from the team’s winter moves (to say nothing of its win-now acquisitions last summer).
  • The Mets had been working on a deal with the Athletics that would have delivered not only Tyler Clippard, but also Ben Zobrist, Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. But the clubs honed in on the reliever alone after New York went out and got Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. That, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that the Mets are out on Zobrist, though adding a pair of versatile pieces in Uribe and Johnson could lessen heir need.
  • Meanwhile, the Mets have clearly positioned themselves as buyers, and are still looking at corner outfield bats. As we also covered in that link, the Athletics seem uninterested in parting with controllable pieces like Josh Reddick — despite their apparent decision to load up on high-ceiling youngsters.
  • Zobrist will likely be the next player dealt away from the A’s, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. She sees the Royals and Nationals as the possible front-runners for his services. Oakland has drawn wide interest in the utility man extraordinaire, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, with almost every contender having checked in on him. Joining Kansas City with active interest, per the report, are the PiratesYankees, and Cubs. We’ve heard no shortage of other clubs mentioned in recent weeks as well, as Zobrist’s MLBTR timeline attests.
  • While the Mets are earning plaudits in some circles for adding a quality pen arm without dealing away any top prospects, prospect analysts say that the return for Clippard might be better than many realize. Keith Law of ESPN.com writes that he’d rank Casey Meisner as the organization’s sixth-best prospect, just behind a touted group of names, giving him a #2 starter ceiling. That’s far too much to give up for a few months of a reliever who has not been pitching at an elite level this year, Law argues. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs is not quite as high on Meisner, but still tweets that he sees him as a solid return for Oakland.
  • Clippard becomes the second shoe to drop on the relief market, following the Cardinals’ acquisition of Steve Cishek. Check out MLBTR’s round-up of the relief market. We’ve heard rumblings on star Padres Craig Kimbrel today, and there are plenty of other high-end arms that could change hands.


Outfield Market Notes: Maybin, Reddick, Mets, Angels, Parra, Gomez

Though the Braves have fielded plenty of interest in the revived Cameron Maybin, and have considered moving him, the team now feels it “would need to be blown away with an offer” to make a deal, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Contrary to an earlier report, Bowman adds, an Atlanta source vehemently denied the suggestion that Maybin had been dangled in an earlier effort to add Angel Pagan of the Giants. Maybin, 28, has been one of the game’s best turnaround stories, with his play dramatically altering perceptions of both his contract and the deal that brought him to Atlanta (which was already widely viewed as a Braves win).

Here’s more on the still-developing outfield market, which just saw one move with Shane Victorino heading to the Angels:

  • The Athletics seem unlikely to move outfielder Josh Reddick, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. In his comments after today’s Tyler Clippard trade, GM Billy Beane said that his club is not presently working on deals involving players who are under future control.
  • Despite a trio of acquisitions already completed, the Mets are still looking at a handful of outfield options, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. New York has, of course, just brought up top prospect Michael Conforto with Michael Cuddyer on the DL, but the team also designated John Mayberry Jr. and could use another quality option.
  • A source also tells Marc Carig of Newsday that the Mets are still shopping for outfield bats. Carig notes that the team could wait for asking prices to drop on deadline day.
  • The Angels are also still looking at left-handed hitting outfielders after adding Victorino, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that Jay Bruce (Reds), David Murphy (Indians), and Ben Revere (Phillies) are all still on their radar.
  • Gerardo Parra of the Brewers is also a player that the Angels are interested in, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter). Heyman breaks down his market, citing the Mets and Orioles as prime suitors (along with the Halos) for the left-handed hitter. There’s also a classic mystery team involved, per the report.
  • Heyman adds that some in the Brewers organization do not believe that Carlos Gomez will end up being dealt. Milwaukee is somewhat hesitant to move an affordable, in-prime player with control remaining.
  • Be sure to check out MLBTR’s Trade Market series for all the most likely outfield trade pieces. We’ve covered both center field candidates as well as corner options.

Mets Acquire Tyler Clippard

5:35pm: New York will receive $1MM in the deal, meaning that they’ll pay Clippard just over $2MM the rest of the way, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tweets.

5:16pm: The Mets have agreed to a deal that will land them reliever Tyler Clippard from the Athletics, Oakland announced (and as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported on Twitter). Oakland will receive righty Casey Meisner in return, and will also send some cash to New York in the deal.

Jun 25, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Tyler Clippard (36) pitches in the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington.  The Athletics beat the Rangers 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Clippard has not delivered the same kind of performance that he did over the previous four seasons in Washington, over which he put up a 2.50 ERA with 10.2 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9. Though the veteran has always outperformed the expectations of ERA estimators, he hasn’t maintained anything near the peripherals he had set as a baseline.

Over his 38 2/3 frames in Oakland, all compiled since coming over in a winter trade for Yunel Escobar, Clippard has seen his strikeout rate drop to 8.8 K/9 while his walk rate has shot up to 4.9 BB/9. His average fastball velocity has not fallen off sharply, but has continued to decline. And Clippard has seen his swinging strike rate fall to 12.4%, below his career average.

That being said, Clippard has still picked up 17 saves and carries a 2.79 ERA over 38 2/3 innings. He’s benefitted from a .214 BABIP-against, but his career rate is a miniscule .234 — a product of the many flyouts he induces. Interestingly, Clippard has seen his infield fly rate drop off significantly (from around 19% over the last two seasons to 11.9% this year). Clippard continues to excel at retiring opposite-handed hitters, which he accomplishes with a devastating change to accompany his typically up-in-the-zone heater.

New York will hope for a more vintage performance from its latest addition. The team is clearly pushing some chips in with hopes of overtaking the Nationals in the NL East. Clippard joins Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson as new acquisitions, and New York may not be done.

As for the return, Meisner is a 20-year-old righty who has reached the High-A level for the first time this year. The 2013 third-rounder stands at 6’7 and has delivered strong results this year, with a 2.35 ERA over 111 minor league frames and 7.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. But those figures — particularly the peripherals — have benefitted from the fact that 76 of those innings came at the Class A level, as Meisner has not maintained them since his promotion.

Oakland has added yet another young piece as it continues to part with veteran assets. The Scott Kazmir trade also returned somewhat lower-level prospects, which could give some indication where GM Billy Beane is headed. Meisner has drawn mixed reviews at times, with Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs tweeting that he looks like a back-end starter at best given his difficulty repeating a delivery and mediocre secondary offerings. But ESPN.com’s Keith Law recently mentioned Meisner as a strong sleeper prospect (Insider link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Mets Making Progress On Clippard Trade; Other Teams Still In Play

5:12pm: A deal sending Clippard to the Mets is getting “closer,” Heyman tweets.

2:05pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that the Nationals are still considering a reunion with Clippard.

12:25pm: Ben Zobrist is not involved in these talks, tweets Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, who does hear that the sides are making progress on a deal. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that the Mets have expressed a willingness to send Rafael Montero to Oakland in Zobrist talks, so the two sides have already exchanged names in previous talks. That’s not to say Montero is in play here, just that they’ve talked names in the past, which could be beneficial to these talks.

12:13pm: The Mets are making progress on a trade to acquire Tyler Clippard from the Athletics, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Other teams are still in play, according to the FOX Sports duo, and a deal could come soon. Last night, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a Clippard trade could come as soon as today.

The A’s picked up Clippard in an offseason trade with the Nationals, sending Yunel Escobar to Washington in a one-for-one swap. Clippard hasn’t been as effective with Oakland as he has in previous seasons, though. While his 2.79 ERA is solid on the surface, but his strikeout rate (8.8 K/9), walk rate (4.9 BB/9) and ground-ball rate (20.8 percent) have all gone in the wrong direction this season. He’s benefited from an elevated strand rate and a minuscule .214 BABIP, leading FIP (3.89) to project something far less optimistic in regards to his performance. He’s also posted a career-low homer-to-flyball ratio, causing xFIP to project a more pessimistic 5.31.

Regardless, Clippard does have strong bottom-line results and an excellent track record. He’s posted a 2.63 ERA with 10.4 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9 in 393 1/3 innings from 2010-14 working as both a setup man and a closer with the Nationals. He’s owed roughly $3.2MM over the remainder of the season and would give the Mets another arm to slot into the bullpen in the event that they reach the postseason, where Jenrry Mejia is ineligible to pitch due to an 80-game PED suspension.


Athletics Could Trade Clippard As Early As Monday

Tyler Clippard, and not Ben Zobrist, seems likely to be the next Athletics player to be traded, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. That deal could take place soon, perhaps on Monday, with a Zobrist trade coming later. It’s unclear who the Athletics’ trade partner for Clippard will be, although Slusser lists the Nationals, Mets and Yankees as candidates. Clippard has been linked to all three teams in recent reports.

Clippard has posted a 2.79 ERA, 8.8 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in his first season in Oakland. He also has 17 saves, although many potential trade partners would likely use him in a setup capacity anyway. He was originally drafted by the Yankees in 2003 and made his big-league debut with them four years later, and he spent the next seven years pitching in the Nationals bullpen.


Latest On Mets’ Pursuit Of Offense

At least based on reports, the Mets appear to be one of the busier teams as we approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Here’s the latest, mostly via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

  • The Mets tried for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but they believe Colorado isn’t interested in a trade.
  • The Mets have also looked into utilityman Ben Zobrist and reliever Tyler Clippard of the Athletics, but it appears likely that the Athletics will find better deals for both players, probably in two different trades.
  • New York discussed sending Zack Wheeler to the Reds in a deal for outfielder Jay Bruce, but talks went nowhere. Andy Martino and Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reported yesterday that the Mets had discussed potential Wheeler deals with multiple clubs.
  • The Mets and Brewers have had talks regarding Gerardo Parra, although it appears that there’s enough interest in Parra that the Brewers’ price has increased. That’s consistent with a tweet this afternoon from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt, who wrote that the Brewers have had lots of interest in Parra and will have their choice of various offers.
  • The Mets are also interested in Yoenis Cespedes of the Tigers, but so far, they have nothing to show for it, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets.

East Notes: Gordon, Orioles, Hamels, Clippard

The Marlins will be without All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon for at least two weeks, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Gordon dislocated his thumb sliding headfirst into first base. There was no ligament damage or broken bones per Rosenthal. Gordon will be replaced on the All-Star roster by Troy Tulowitzki. Fellow Rockie DJ LeMahieu will now start for the NL All Stars.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • Miami is weighing trades ahead of the deadline, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. The club is 10.5 games back in the NL East and 14 games below .500. They will probably have to get hot in the next couple weeks to change the current plan. As MLBTR readers are well aware, pending free agents Mat Latos and Dan Haren are trade candidates. The Marlins have also received interest in former closer Steve Cishek and swing man Brad Hand.
  • The Orioles could be primed for a quiet trade deadline, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. The club already has a host of impending free agents. It could be ill-advised to deal controllable assets like they did last season. Dan Duquette dealt Eduardo Rodriguez for Andrew Miller, a trade he may now regret given Rodriguez’s success in Boston. Additionally, top prospects Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey are sidelined with injuries. Mike Wright showed some promise but ultimately struggled in two stints with the club.
  • It’s imperative that the Phillies trade Cole Hamels before the end of the month, opines Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. While the club could find it easier to swap Jonathan Papelbon or Ryan Howard over the offseason, a robust group of free agent starters will hurt Hamels’ value in the winter. In my opinion, it would be quite shocking if the Phillies held Hamels for the rest of the season. If they did fail to find a deal to their liking, they could position Hamels as a cost effective alternative to aces like Johnny Cueto and David Price.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is excited about the state of the farm system, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. “I would put our farm system up against anybody’s,” said Amaro. He specifically mentioned Aaron Nola and Aaron Altherr, both of whom are finding success at the Triple-A level. It’s widely assumed that Nola will soon join the club. Trades could also open the door for Altherr. Nola is not on the 40-man roster, but Altherr already has a spot.
  • The Yankees and Mets should consider adding Athletics closer Tyler Clippard, suggests Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Even though neither club technically needs relief help, Martino references the Royals dominant trio of relievers from last October. Their ability to shorten the game is critical in October. Particularly with the Yankees, a trio of Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Miller would be intimidating.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Desmond, Toussaint, D-Backs, Samardzija, Cotts

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal begins with an interesting note on the Nationals. Despite a substantial payroll and a heavy offseason investment in Max Scherzer, Nats ownership is reluctant to add payroll during the season. Rosenthal notes that, in hindsight, we saw an indication of this last July when Cleveland paid all of the $3.3MM remaining on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s salary after the Nats acquired him. (Of course, the Nats were also willing to take on all of Matt Thornton‘s salary via waiver claim.)

Because of this, Rosenthal wonders if the Nats will consider trading Ian Desmond this summer to clear room for a different acquisition. Given Desmond’s struggles, the team could be better off with Danny Espinosa, Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon seeing regular time in the infield. Earlier in the week, I speculated on a possible Desmond trade after it was reported that the Nats were interesred in the D-Backs’ middle infielders, but Rosenthal notes that it could also allow them more flexibility to pursue Aroldis Chapman, Ben Zobrist or even a reunion with Tyler Clippard. Of course, Desmond’s offensive and defensive woes diminish his trade value, as well.

A few more highlights from Rosenthal’s column…

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Rosenthal that he usually doesn’t pay attention to media criticism, but he’s aware of the near-universal criticism of the D-Backs for their trade of Touki Toussaint (in which the team essentially sold its 2014 first-round pick to Atlanta). Rosenthal quotes Stewart: “The truth is we did not know what Touki’s value would be if we shopped him. There is a lot of speculation on that. People are assuming it would have been better, but we don’t know. There was an opportunity to make a deal that gave us more flexibility today as well as next year. We took that opportunity. It’s tough to say we could have gotten more. He was drafted at No. 16, given ($2.7) million. In my opinion, that’s his value.” Stewart continues to say that Toussaint has not thrown 96 mph with the D-Backs, despite some scouting reports and that there’s “some inflation of what people think Touki is.” Stewart adds that the D-Backs think Toussaint will be a Major League pitcher but not for another five to six years.
  • A brief interjection from me to offer my take on those comments: It’s odd to hear a GM openly devalue a player in this fashion, even after trading him away. Beyond that, however, it’s puzzling to hear Stewart equate Toussaint’s value with the clearly arbitrary number assigned to last year’s draft slot value. Having shown a willingness to spend $16MM+ on a pitching prospect (Yoan Lopez) this offseason, Stewart is undoubtedly cognizant of the fact that Toussaint would have fetched far, far more than $2.7MM in a theoretical free agent setting. Additionally, if they truly do feel that Toussaint will pitch in the Major Leagues, that makes the trade all the more puzzling to me, as my best explanation to this point had been that they simply didn’t believe in his future all that strongly.
  • Back to Rosenthal’s piece, which has several more quotes from Stewart, including the GM’s own admission of surprise to his team’s current standing in the NL West. The D-Backs were built with an eye on the longer-term picture than 2015, says Stewart, and they’ll need to assess how to respond at the deadline. To this point, the D-Backs have received inquiries on their starting pitching, but not on their middle infield. Stewart flatly says “…we’re not moving [Nick] Ahmed,” and calls a trade of Chris Owings “very unlikely.” Interestingly, that does seem to indicate that the new GM values Ahmed over Owings.
  • The Astros remain interested in Jeff Samardzija, and as Rosenthal notes, a move away from what has been a brutal White Sox defense would likely help Samardzija quite a bit. Samardzija’s .338 BABIP has helped contribute to a significant discrepancy between his 4.53 ERA and 3.67 FIP. Of course, Chicago’s porous defense doesn’t necessarily explain Samardzija’s diminished strikeout rate and struggles to strand runners in 2015. The Astros, Rosenthal says, are eyeing Samardzija and other pitchers, but the White Sox are not yet ready to sell.
  • The Brewers aren’t receiving very strong interest in Francisco Rodriguez, likely in part due to his backloaded contract, Rosenthal hears. K-Rod is still owed $1.95MM in 2015, plus $9.5MM in 2016 between his salary and the buyout on a $6MM club option for the 2017 season. Lefty Neal Cotts, however, figures to be in demand and may even be of interest to his former club, the Rangers, Rosenthal writes. Cotts’s 4.30 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but he’s held lefties to a .546 OPS.
  • The Cardinals might not be as urgent to add a starter as many had previously expected. The club feels that Michael Wacha can top 200 innings, and Carlos Martinez can deliver about 170. A bigger need might be a left-handed-hitting complement for Mark Reynolds at first base, and Rosenthal suggests Adam LaRoche as a speculative fit to improve the team on both sides of the ball.