Tyler Clippard Rumors

Blue Jays Have Inquired About Tyler Clippard

The Blue Jays have asked the Athletics about the possibility of trading for reliever Tyler Clippard, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. The Blue Jays are seeking upgrades for both their rotation and their bullpen, Crasnick reports. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote yesterday that Clippard might become a target for the Blue Jays, who were also interested in Clippard last offseason.

The Jays have gotten good results this year from Roberto Osuna, Liam Hendriks, Steve Delabar and current closer Brett Cecil, but their bullpen has been an area of concern throughout the season, and they’ve recently also had trade discussions with the Phillies regarding Jonathan Papelbon.

The 30-year-old Clippard would be a somewhat lower-wattage addition, but he’s in the midst of an effective season, with a 3.20 ERA and 7.8 K/9. His walk rate is elevated at 4.6 BB/9, however, and he’s allowed fly balls at an alarming 64.9% rate that’s somewhat atypical, even though he’s never been a ground-ball pitcher. He’s saved nine games in his first extended stint as a closer since 2012, when he saved 32 games for the Nationals. He’s making $8.3MM in his last year before free agency.


Trade Market Notes: Top Targets, Papelbon, Jays, Mets, Cueto

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com ranks the top forty trade candidates around the league, adding observations and notes on each. Though he notes that clubs like the Red Sox and Orioles could potentially end up moving assets, Heyman restricts things to clubs that seem more likely than not to sell at this point. Cole Hamels of the Phillies lands in the pole position; though some top suitors remain unwilling to part with the top players targeted by Philadelphia, one GM tells Heyman that the club will probably be able to land a premium prospect for the lefty. He also argues that a deal involving Dodgers outfielder and Angels starter C.J. Wilson looks good on paper, though the teams have not discussed such an arrangement. You’ll need to read the whole post to take it all in, of course.

  • The Blue Jays and Phillies have not discussed Jonathan Papelbon in the last week, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links), adding that Toronto is looking at other arms at the moment. One name to watch, says Sherman, is Tyler Clippard of the Athletics, who Toronto had in-depth discussions about over the winter.
  • It’s academic at this point, but Clippard also drew significant interest from the Astros over the offseason, Sherman further tweets. Indeed, Houston was “very close” to acquiring the veteran reliever, says Sherman, which raises the interesting question of what the Nationals would have received in return. Ultimately, the club took infielder Yunel Escobar in return, though that deal did not occur until a month after the Astros had already spent big on free agent bullpen arms, which could indicate that the prospective Clippard acquisition might have been contemplated earlier in the winter.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson indicated that the club will not rely on a return from David Wright in making its summer moves, David Lennon of Newsday writes. Alderson said the club would not continue providing regular updates on Wright’s status, and said he would not be restricted in making moves. “Would we consider a third baseman who can’t do anything else?” Alderson queried. “Under the circumstances, yeah, we probably would. But we’re not just looking for any third baseman. It has to be something we think is an improvement that doesn’t cost us significantly.” The veteran GM continued to throw cold water on the idea of a move in the near-term, noting that the market was “narrow” and generally features underperforming players at this stage.
  • C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer discusses the Reds‘ current predicament, with Zack Cozart out for the season, Devin Mesoraco likely to join him in that regard, and Marlon Byrd sidelined for a significant stretch. Cincinnati should not allow its hosting of the All-Star game to slow its efforts to deal Johnny Cueto, opines Rosecrans, who suggests that the team could reap a larger reward by moving him now (both by selling more starts and, perhaps, by getting ahead of the market). Dealing Cueto, of course, would also increase the appeal of shipping out Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman. Rosecrans concludes: “At this point, the organization doesn’t need to think about the All-Star Game, or even 2016. This is a long-term move and needs long-term thinking.”
  • Though he’s a rental, Cueto is a true ace and should bring back a healthy return — even if it won’t be near what the Reds might have achieved last year (as Rosecrans explains). There should be no shortage of suitors, but MLB.com’s Phil Rogers lists the five most plausible landing spots: the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Dodgers, Rangers, and Padres.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Managers, A’s, Reddick, Tulo, Astros

Earlier this week, in the wake of the Marlins’ managerial change, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted that the two skippers who were most obviously on the hot seat had now been dismissed. With Mike Redmond and Brewers skipper Ron Roenicke having been replaced, Rosenthal looks at four more managers who could eventually find themselves in danger of losing their jobs, listing John Gibbons (Blue Jays), Bud Black (Padres), Fredi Gonzalez (Braves) and Terry Collins (Mets) as the likeliest options. Gibbons can’t be blamed for the lack of quality relief arms he has at his disposal, Rosenthal notes, but bench coach Demarlo Hale has long been thought of as a managerial prospect and makes sense as a replacement option. Black’s Padres are struggling with pitching, and Mark Kotsay‘s name is floated by Rosenthal as someone who could be the next recently retired player to turn manager. Braves president of baseball ops John Hart isn’t as high on Gonzalez as president John Schuerholz or Bobby Cox, and there’s been some recent “internal finger-pointing,” Rosenthal hears. Collins nearly lost his job at the end of the 2014 season, he notes, and while the team is still in first place, the Mets’ managerial situation has long been volatile in nature.

Here’s more from Rosenthal…

  • In a new Notes column, Rosenthal looks at the Athletics‘ roster in the wake of a brutal start to the season. As many have pointed out, Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard and Ben Zobrist — each a pending free agent — would all be logical trade candidates if the team is still underperforming in July. However, Rosenthal writes that there’s no way GM Billy Beane will act quickly and sell, as he’ll first want to see how the team performs with Zobrist and closer Sean Doolittle healthy and activated from the DL. One change that won’t be coming, Rosenthal adds, is at manager. Beane and skipper Bob Melvin have a strong relationship, and it’s “exceptionally unlikely” that Melvin would be dismissed, in Rosenthal’s eyes.
  • Another possible trade chip for the A’s could be Josh Reddick, who is earning $4.1MM after his second trip through arbitration this year. The Athletics, however, resisted trade offers for Reddick all offseason, Rosenthal hears.
  • Rosenthal recently called Rockies owner Dick Monfort to discuss the recent Troy Tulowitzki trade chatter. However, when Rosenthal began asking about Tulowitzki, Monfort “quickly hung up.” The bizarre situation lends credence to wide-spread belief that Tulo, his agent and even GM Jeff Bridich have little say in whether or not the Rockies trade the face of their franchise. Rather, it’ll come down to the team owner’s wishes.
  • The Astros are considering a long list of pitchers that either are or could become available, and they’ve recently been scouting Jeff Samardzija. It remains to be seen if the Astros would be willing to part with enough to get their hands on Samardzija, though. As Rosenthal notes, some rival execs feel that the tandem pitching system the Astros use in the minors devalues their pitching prospects, though one exec told him that it actually increases the value, as it suppresses the young pitchers’ inning counts.
  • Rosenthal believes the Rays should consider trading left-hander Jake McGee to either help their rotation or another area of the team. McGee, he notes, is earning $3.55MM this season and will see that price tag sail beyond $5MM in arbitration this winter.
  • Of course, as I noted yesterday when looking at this topic, using McGee in the ninth inning would help to keep down the future earnings of Brad Boxberger, who would benefit greatly from two full seasons of saves when he heads into arbitration following the 2016 season. And, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd mentioned to me earlier today when we were chatting, left-handed relief is an area of weakness for the Rays at this time. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if the scenario Rosenthal lays out came to fruition, and it’s hard to imagine that the Rays wouldn’t at least be open-minded to moving McGee.


Athletics, Tyler Clippard Avoid Arbitration

5:50pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Clippard will be paid $8.3MM in 2015, which is slightly below the midpoint of the figures that were exchanged.

5:18pm: The Athletics announced that they have avoided arbitration with recently acquired right-hander Tyler Clippard by agreeing to a one-year contract (Twitter link). Clippard, a client of Excel Sports Management, filed for an $8.85MM salary, while the team countered at $7.775MM, a shown in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker. Though his final sum has yet to be reported, it will come in south of the $9.3MM figure projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.

Acquired last month in exchange for Yunel Escobar, Clippard was arbitration eligible for the final time this winter. Though his final price tag will be lofty for a relief arm, it’s hard to argue that he hasn’t earned this level of compensation; over the past two seasons, Clippard has worked to a 2.29 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 141 1/3 innings for the Nationals. He also served as the team’s primary closer in the 2012 season, registering 32 saves, though they came with an uncharacteristically high 3.72 ERA.

Clippard, who will turn 30 on Valentine’s Day, was expected to serve in a setup role with Oakland at the time of his acquisition, but reports since the trade have indicated that closer Sean Doolittle is dealing with shoulder problems. Doolittle recently received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in his left shoulder and could be sidelined to begin the season, which means that Clippard could again be called upon for ninth-inning duties.

With Clippard’s case resolved, the A’s are now finished with the arbitration process. Oakland had 11 arb-eligible players this winter, but only one hearing was required; the team won its hearing against Jarrod Parker, who had filed for a $1.7MM salary, while the team filed at $850K.


Quick Hits: Joba, Beachy, Eovaldi, Clippard

Rather than throwing touchdowns for the Patriots, could Tom Brady have instead had a career throwing out baserunners for the Expos?  MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro looks back at how Montreal selected Brady (then a catcher at Serra High School) in the 18th round of the 1995 draft, even though it was widely known that Brady was going to play football at Michigan.  “I think he would have been a pro,” said scout John Hughes, who evaluated Brady for the Expos.  “He had all the intangibles. He could throw, left-handed power. There is no reason to think this guy couldn’t have been a big league catcher.”  While every New England sports fan breathes a sigh of relief that Brady stuck to the gridiron, here are some more notes from around baseball…

  • Joba Chamberlain has rejected multiple offers because he simply didn’t want to pitch for the teams that offered him those deals, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports.  He’s considering a one-year deal with a modest base salary and incentives, as his hopes for a two-year contract have likely gone by the wayside.  There is still some question about Chamberlain’s makeup amongst league executives, and one exec told Rosenthal that the Tigers‘ lack of interest in re-signing Chamberlain “alarmed him” given Detroit’s need for bullpen help.
  • Though Brandon Beachy was reportedly considering multiple offers and was thought to be close to signing a new contract earlier this month, his agent Rob Martin tells Ken Rosenthal (all Twitter links) that the right-hander will wait a bit longer.  “Brandon has decided not to sign a contract at this time. With each day his arm is getting stronger and he’s feeling even more confident about his progress,” Martin said.  “Thus, he is going to continue with his throwing program and make a decision closer to Spring Training.”
  • The Marlins were linked to Wade Miley earlier this winter, and now ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) reports that the Marlins thought they were in agreement with the Diamondbacks on a Miley-for-Nathan Eovaldi trade.  Arizona pulled out of the deal, however, and Miami instead dealt Eovaldi to the Yankees while the D’Backs sent Miley to the Red Sox.
  • Also from Olney, there is some speculation in rival front offices that the Nationals‘ trade of Tyler Clippard might’ve been motivated by more than just a desire to move salary, especially since Washington just signed Casey Janssen to a healthy contract.  It’s possible the Nats could see “red flags” about Clippard’s future production that aren’t obvious to most observers, especially given that Clippard had another strong season in 2014.

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.