Tyler Clippard Rumors

Arbitration Filing Numbers

Many players will avoid arbitration today, and dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won’t go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox (per the most recent updates) are known for their “file and trial” policies. For players on those teams this marks the last chance at negotiations before a hearing.

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $5MM or more. Projections can be found here. Now for the details …

  • The Reds countered the $5.7MM filing of Todd Frazier with a $3.9MM figure, according to Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (via Twitter).
  • Third baseman David Freese filed at $7.6MM and the Angels countered at $5.25MM, WAPT’s Mike Perchick tweets. Halos outfielder Matt Joyce has filed for $5.2MM against a $4.2MM counter, according to Perchick (on Twitter).
  • Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler filed for $10.8MM while the club countered at $8.5MM, Perchick tweeets.
  • Pirates second baseman Neil Walker filed at $9MM while the club landed at $8MM, Perchick tweets.
  • Just-acquired reliever Tyler Clippard has filed for $8.85MM against the Athletics, who countered at $7.775MM, Perchick tweets.
  • Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay filed at $5MM while the team countered at $4.1MM, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets.
  • Pedro Alvarez has requested a $5.75MM salary for the coming season while the Pirates are at $5.25MM, per a tweet from Perchick.
  • Righty Mat Latos filed at $10.4MM and the Marlins countered with a $9.4MM figure, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
  • Third baseman Casey McGehee filed at $5.4MM, with the Giants countering at $4MM, Heyman tweets.
  • The Braves countered Mike Minor‘s $5.6MM filing number with a $5.1MM team figure, Heyman reports on Twitter.
  • Mark Trumbo has filed for $6.9MM against a $5.3MM counter from the Diamondbacks, Heyman tweets. Closer Addison Reed, meanwhile, filed at $5.6MM with the team countering at $4.7MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
  • The Orioles went with a $7.5MM price point for righty Bud Norris, who filed at $10.25MM, per Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). In both relative and absolute terms, there is an even bigger gap between the O’s ($2MM) and breakout slugger Steve Pearce ($5.4MM), who is looking to cash in on a big season in his final year of eligibility. That news also comes via Connolly, on Twitter.
  • Entering his final year of arbitration, infielder Daniel Murphy has filed for $8.6MM while the Mets have submitted a $7.4MM figure, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets.
  • Reds 9th inning man Aroldis Chapman filed for $8.7MM while the team countered at $6.65MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
  • The Orioles and outfielder Alejandro De Aza will negotiate between filing figures of $5MM and $5.65MM, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets.
  • Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer filed at $6.7MM and the team countered at $4.6MM, Heyman tweets. The club will also have some ground to make up with closer Greg Holland, who filed at $9MM versus a team filing of $6.65MM, per another Heyman tweet.
  • Newly-acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson has filed at $5.75MM, while the Blue Jays countered at $4.3MM, Heyman tweets.

Nationals, A’s Swap Tyler Clippard, Yunel Escobar

Yunel Escobar‘s tenure with the Athletics lasted all of five days, as he has now been traded to the Nationals in exchange for right-hander Tyler Clippard, the Nats announced on Wednesday.

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Escobar, of course, had only just been acquired by the Athletics this past weekend alongside Ben Zobrist in a trade that sent a prospect package headlined by Daniel Robertson to the Rays. A trade of Escobar likely means that infielder Marcus Semien, acquired by Oakland in their trade of Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox, will again be ticketed for an everyday role in the middle infield. Indeed, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Semien will be the club’s shortstop, teaming with Zobrist to comprise the club’s double-play tandem.

As for the Nationals, the acquisition opens a number of avenues. First and foremost is that Escobar simply supplants Danny Espinosa as the team’s second baseman, pairing with All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond. In that scenario, Escobar, who is controlled through the 2016 season at a reasonable total of $13MM (plus an option for the 2017 season), could slide over to shortstop next year if Desmond signs elsewhere as a free agent. However, the possibility of an eventual Desmond trade cannot be outright ignored, as the Nats reportedly discussed a three-team swap with the Rays and Mets last weekend that would have netted them Escobar and Zobrist, with Desmond heading to New York.

The 32-year-old Escobar, typically a sound defender, had somewhat of a down season on both sides of the ball in 2014. Though he picked things up with the bat late in the season to salvage a .258/.324/.340 batting line (92 OPS+, 95 wRC+), he posted a UZR/150 of -26, and Defensive Runs Saved dinged him equally, rating him at -24 runs. However, Escobar also battled shoulder and knee problems last season and has otherwise always been regarded as an excellent defender, so while some will assume this to be age-related decline, there’s reason to believe that he could rebound in 2015.

Clippard, 30 next month, is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $9.3MM in 2015 — his final year of team control before hitting free agency. Clippard has been a staple in the Nats’ bullpen dating back to 2009, pitching to a 2.64 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in that time, though his control has improved significantly since 2011. Despite being an extreme fly-ball pitcher, Clippard has never had a huge problem with home runs and will likely be able to avoid such problems at the spacious O.Co Coliseum. One large reason for his ability to keep the ball in the yard is that a number of his fly-balls are of the infield pop-up variety — 15.5 percent over the past six seasons and a whopping 19.3 percent in 2015. That trend figures to continue, given all of the space in Oakland’s park, as Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron notes (on Twitter).

This marks the second straight offseason in which the A’s have traded for a high-priced reliever, although the two deals are markedly different. Last winter, Oakland acquired Jim Johnson from the Orioles in what essentially amounted to a salary dump, while parting with Escobar (two to three years of him, no less) represents a significant value heading to Washington. In this instance, however, Clippard seems likely to remain in a setup role, as Oakland has lights-out closer Sean Doolittle currently manning the ninth inning on an affordable long-term deal, eliminating the financial risk that would have come with letting him accumulate saves while still arbitration-eligible.

On a grander scale, the move further adds to the intrigue of the Oakland offseason. After reaching the playoffs via Wild Card status, Oakland began its offseason by signing Billy Butler to a three-year pact — a win-now move aimed to upgrade in the short-term. The A’s then traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija and Derek Norris for packages of younger players (although they did receive a pair of MLB-ready pieces in Marcus Semien and Jesse Hahn). Following those moves, most assumed the A’s to be gearing up for a rebuild, but at that point, GM Billy Beane added Zobrist (with one year left on his deal) and Escobar in another move aimed at the short-term future. Overall, it seems that Beane and his staff are merely re-tooling — giving themselves a chance at contention in 2015 while simultaneously acquiring younger, more affordable players to create a lengthier window of contention (or to use as chips in further trades).

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported that Escobar was headed to the Nats (Twitter link) and speculated that Clippard would be a fit. MLB.com’s Bill Ladson confirmed (on Twitter) that Clippard was indeed headed to Oakland.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


East Notes: Clevenger, Hamels, Zobrist, Asdrubal, Nats

The Orioles‘ waiver claim of Ryan Lavarnway adds a fifth catcher to the 40-man roster and further clouds the future of fellow backstop Steve Clevenger, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Clevenger’s agent, Josh Kusnick, spoke with Kubatko about his client’s role in Baltimore, noting that while he’s been told Clevenger can win the backup catching job in Spring Training, it’s difficult to see happening after he was passed over last season. Clevenger hit .225/.289/.337 in a small sample of Major League plate appearances last year but slashed a much stronger .305/.366/.389 in 64 Triple-A games. Given the amount of clubs needing depth at catcher, I’d imagine that Clevenger would have interest to other teams.

Here’s more from baseball’s Eastern divisions…

  • In his latest column, Peter Gammons takes a look back at the recent history of trades of ace-caliber pitchers and notes that there’s very little certainty that the Phillies would receive a franchise-altering package for Cole Hamels. Trades of pitchers such as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have not reaped many benefits, while others such as the Johan Santana trade netted one All-Star caliber player (Carlos Gomez) who didn’t break out until he was traded to a third team.
  • Also in Gammons’ piece, he writes that many GMs believe the Giants will eventually trade a prospect package to the Rays to land Ben Zobrist.
  • MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweeted earlier this week that the Yankees don’t appear to be in on Asdrubal Cabrera at this time and instead appear to be heading toward a Spring Training battle between prospects Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela in addition to minor league signees Nick Noonan and Cole Figueroa.
  • In addition to a very heartfelt holiday wish to all of his readers, Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com penned an excellent look at the Nationals‘ roster yesterday and ran down three players that he feels could be on the move before Opening Day. While Kerzel doesn’t think all three of Danny Espinosa, Tyler Moore and Tyler Clippard will be dealt, he can envision at least one of the three moving. Espinosa’s name is still popular in trade talks, Kerzel hears, so he could be shipped elsewhere if the Nats can acquire another second base option (I’d imagine today’s signing of Dan Uggla is unrelated to Espinosa’s availability, personally). Moore is a popular name when GM Mike Rizzo chats with AL clubs, as he could be a platoon DH/first baseman/outfielder. Clippard’s projected $9.3MM salary may simply be more than the Nats care to spend on a setup ace, and teams like the Blue Jays are known to be looking for a closer, Kerzel points out. Clippard was among the Nats’ most asked-about players at the Winter Meetings, and he would welcome the opportunity to move into a closer’s gig.


Nationals Rumors: Desmond, M’s, Detwiler, Clippard

The Nationals and Mariners have discussed Ian Desmond on several occasions but talks between the two teams have yet to really gain traction, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  Washington likes Brad Miller, so conceivably the young shortstop could be part of a larger package the M’s would send back to D.C.  Here’s some more about the Nationals…

  • Jordan Zimmermann has been drawn more trade attention than Desmond this week, according to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi.
  • The Nats are actively discussing Ross Detwiler and Tyler Clippard with multiple teams, Rosenthal tweets.
  • The Nationals still want a second base upgrade and they’re talking with lots of teams about Clippard and Jerry Blevins, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter).
  • The Nationals have inquired on Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, but it appears like a long shot to pry him away, according James Wagner of the Washington Post.
  • Jed Lowrie would appear to be a fit for the Nationals but there doesn’t appear to be anything happening on that front, Wagner writes.
  • General Manager Mike Rizzo has said throughout the winter that Anthony Rendon could slide to second base should they acquire a third baseman.  While some rolled their eyes at the notion of moving Rendon away from his natural position, people around the Nationals tell Wagner that they are indeed looking at third baseman and if there is a good one to be had, Rendon would be shifted to second.
  • The sense from teams that asked the Nationals about Clippard is that Washington wants better than a low-tier prospect and trading him wouldn’t be simply to dump his $9MM salary, according to Wagner.

Astros Notes: Clippard, Romo, Gregerson, Hoes

The Astros came up short in their pursuit of David Robertson and Andrew Miller, but they still intend to acquire multiple relievers either in free agency or via trades, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes (via Twitter).  Here are some of the latest notable relief names connected to Houston…

  • The Astros contacted the Nationals about Tyler Clippard though talks “didn’t get far,” Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports.
  • The Astros have spoken to Sergio Romo and Luke Gregerson, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (via Twitter).
  • Outfielder L.J. Hoes is being made available in trades for relief help, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  Hoes has hit .235/.288/.331 over 321 career plate appearances with Baltimore and Houston, receiving playing time off the bench in each of the last two seasons.
  • Astros owner Jim Crane spoke to Evan Drellich today, reiterating that the team has at least $20MM to spend this offseason and potentially more.  “Definitely that money’s available if they need it, and we could stretch a little if we need to and if something came in our direction we felt was the right piece that improved the team,” Crane said.  Also from this piece, Drellich notes that Crane was personally involved in process of trying to recruit Miller.

NL East Notes: Upton, Giants, Rizzo, Gordon

We’ve already published one set of NL East Notes today, but there’s no shortage of news coming out of the Winter Meetings.  Here’s the latest from around the division…

  • The Giants would only be interested in taking on Braves outfielder Justin Upton and his substantial salary if signing Jon Lester was no longer an option, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets.  Since the Giants have been told they’re out of the hunt for Lester, it’s fair to speculate that they could now turn their attention to Upton.
  • A rumored trade that would’ve sent Upton and Chris Johnson from the Braves to the Giants is about a week old and “not happening,” a source tells CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo spoke to reporters (including Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com) about a number of topics, such as how teams are showing increased interest in Washington’s relief corps over the last day.  “When David Robertson signed, our relief pitchers came more into focus with other clubs,” Rizzo said. “We got a lot of traffic on those guys.”  There has been a particularly large amount of interest in Tyler Clippard.
  • Rizzo met with Ian Desmond‘s agents and expects to meet with Jordan Zimmermann‘s agents before the Winter Meetings are over.  It was reported earlier this week that the Nats would explore an extension with Zimmermann, and Rizzo certainly expressed his eagerness to talk to the right-hander.  “Zim’s part of the furniture here.  He’s drafted, signed, developed and starred with the same organization. We feel he’s one of our own, and we’re certainly eager to discuss things with him,” Rizzo said.  The GM isn’t sure, however, what Zimmermann’s asking price will be in this round of negotiations.
  • The Marlins have interest in Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports (Twitter link).  It was reported earlier today that L.A. was open to offers for Gordon.
  • The Mets aren’t close to dealing a starter, but if they do swing a trade, the Rangers and Royals are both “viable landing spots,” ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweetsJon Niese would command a larger return than Dillon Gee, though Rubin says the Mets would prefer to trade Gee since they feel Niese has more upside and can better help the club contend in 2015.  They would trade Niese for a good enough offer, however (Twitter links).
  • The Rangers, Royals and Giants are Gee’s most serious suitors, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman writes (via Twitter).
  • In regards to the Mets‘ shortstop search, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo hears that the team is “far more” interested in Jed Lowrie or Stephen Drew than they are with Asdrubal Cabrera.

NL East Notes: Clippard, Kang, Breslow

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters that there’s no progress to report in potential contract extensions with Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond, Tyler Clippard, and Denard Span, tweets William Ladson of MLB.com.  Here’s a look at more out of the NL East..

  • Rizzo told Ladson that teams are showing interest in Clippard. The right-handed reliever has spent most of his career as a setup man but has some experience as a closer too. He’s projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz to earn $9.3MM in his final spin through arbitration.
  • The Mets are interested in Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang, tweets Matt Ehalt of The Record. Kang is expected to be posted later this week. As we learned earlier this evening, GM Sandy Alderson alluded that Kang could be out of the club’s price range. As for left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, the Mets’ interest is “overblown.”
  • Mets farm director Jon Miller will leave the organization at the end of the year, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (via Twitter) hears that Miller is already done with the club.
  • Rizzo sounds like a man who is ready to make some moves.  “We’re open for business,” the Nationals GM said, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (via Twitter).

Rosenthal On Clippard, Royals, Romo, Gregerson

The Nationals are “likely” to trade setup man Tyler Clippard, a source tells FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.  MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projects Clippard will earn $9.3MM in his final year of arbitration eligibility before hitting the free agent market following the 2015 season, and with closer Drew Storen projected to land a $5.8MM contract as well, moving Clippard would allow the Nats to save some money at the back of their bullpen.

Here’s some more from Rosenthal on the relief market…

  • The Royals have received trade interest in Greg Holland and Wade Davis, and one of the two relief stars could conceivably be moved for a hitter.  Swartz projects Holland to earn $9.3MM in arbitration this winter, while K.C. already picked up their $7MM option on Davis for 2015.  Holland can be a free agent after 2016, the Royals hold two more option years on Davis and Kelvin Herrera is also now arb-eligible, so Kansas City may simply not be able to afford their dominant late-game trio for much longer.
  • Sergio Romo and Luke Gregerson are receiving more interest now that Andrew Miller is off the board.  Neither pitcher has generated much on the rumor mill to date this offseason, though Romo has been cited as one of the Astros’ backup options after Miller signed with the Yankees.
  • The Dodgers are looking for bullpen upgrades but are wary about making any major commitments given how much money they’ve already invested in relief pitching.
  • Speaking of high-priced Dodgers relievers, the team’s new front office “is not enamored with” Brian Wilson.  The righty will earn $9.5MM in 2015 after exercising the player option given to him by previous L.A. general manager Ned Colletti.  Wilson posted a 4.66 ERA, 1.86 K/BB and 5.4 BB/9 over 48 1/3 IP in 2014 while suffering a drop in velocity, though it was his first full season after returning from Tommy John surgery.

Stark’s Latest: Zimmermann, Scherzer, Tigers

Only three free agents make Jayson Stark’s list of the top 10 players to watch during the Winter Meetings, reflecting the feeling from several baseball executives that the trade front could be much busier than the free agency front in the coming days.  Jon Lester is the key domino in the process, as in the words of one NL executive, “he sets the free-agent market and kick-starts the trade market. Depending on when he signs, he could create the greatest Winter Meetings in decades or the most boring.”  Here’s some more from ESPN’s Stark…

  • “The most widespread front-office conspiracy theory” sees the Nationals trading Jordan Zimmermann and then signing Max Scherzer.  This scenario is “so obvious it makes me question if it’s real,” one GM said.  Clearly a lot of factors would have to fall into place for the Nats to pull this off, though they’re known to be listening to offers for Zimmermann, who will be a free agent after the 2015 season.  Scott Boras, Scherzer’s agent, is known for waiting until deep into the offseason to find a preferred deal for his clients, which could give Washington more time to line up a Zimmermann trade.
  • Beyond Zimmermann, the Nationals are also listening to offers for Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Tyler Clippard.  All of these players can hit free agency after 2015, making Washington the “team with the potential to make the biggest deal of the offseason. And maybe not just one,” Stark writes.
  • The Tigers are “listening intently” to offers for David Price and Rick Porcello, though they’ll only deal one of the two, and Detroit would only move Price if they can re-sign Scherzer.  “The Tigers have made it clear they aren’t subtracting any starting pitchers unless they have a replacement lined up,” Stark writes.  I’d note that the newly-acquired Shane Greene could be such a potential replacement for Porcello, who Stark says is the more likely to be traded than Price.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has told teams interested in Cole Hamels to make an offer if they wish, but the Phils are waiting to see where the big free agent arms go before they seriously start exploring a Hamels trade.  Several teams have said the Phillies’ asking price for Hamels is far too high, and one rival official tells Stark that the pitching market is too deep for the Phillies to expect both top prospects and Hamels’ entire contract to be absorbed in a deal.
  • Jeff Samardzija is likelier to be dealt before Hamels, one executive predicts, since the Athletics are more aggressively shopping their right-hander.  We’ve already heard that the White Sox, to name one team, have discussed a Samardzija trade with the A’s.  One exec warns that the A’s could have trouble finding their desired return for Samardzija, since “it’s just hard to give up a lot of value for a one-year pitcher.”
  • The Red Sox are open to trading any position player except for Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rusney Castillo and Christian Vazquez, Stark writes.  It also goes without saying that David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia won’t be dealt, not to mention the newly-signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.

Nationals Avoid Arbitration With Tyler Clippard

The Nationals and setup ace Tyler Clippard have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5.875MM, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).

Clippard, 29 on Friday, exchanged figures with the Nats last month. He and his agents at Excel Sports Management filed for a hefty $6.35MM, while the Nationals countered at $4.45MM. His ultimate salary falls north of the $5.4MM midpoint but comes in south of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's projected $6.2MM payday.

The Nationals brought in a new closer in the form of Rafael Soriano last offseason, leaving Clippard with little hope of repeating his 32 saves from the 2012 campaign. A shift to the seventh and eighth innings didn't harm his production one bit, however, as he continued his success to the tune of a 2.41 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 73 innings. Over the past five seasons, Clippard has a 2.72 ERA in 383 1/3 innings to go along with averages of 10.3 strikeouts and 3.6 walks per nine innings pitched. He's controllable through the 2015 as a Super Two player, as he currently falls just 24 days shy of five full years of service (4.148).

As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, the Nationals have now successfully avoided hearings with all 10 of their arbitration eligible players.