The Nationals announced today that they have designated lefty Tony Sipp for assignment. His roster spot was needed to complete the team’s addition of three new relievers at the trade deadline, each of whom has been activated for tonight’s game.
Sipp was surprisingly unable to find work this spring after turning in excellent results with solid peripherals in 2018. He ultimately landed with the Nats on a modest deal in mid-March. Sipp is owed $1MM this year with a $250K buyout on a 2020 mutual option.
You can mostly ignore his 4.71 ERA, since Sipp has been used in such short bursts (21 innings in 36 appearances). Regardless, things haven’t really gone as hoped for the 36-year-old, who has maintained a solid 12.7% swinging-strike rate but lost almost 1.5 mph on his average fastball from last season.
Sipp has allowed hard contact on 34.4% of the balls put in play against him, way up from last year’s excellent 22.3% mark. And Statcast thinks he has been fortunate to hold opposing hitters to a .284 wOBA, translating the contact measurements into a .340 xwOBA.
We’ll have to wait to see how this situation turns out. Sipp can’t be traded. But he could conceivably be claimed by a rival that’s in need of lefty relief depth. If he clears waivers and is outrighted, Sipp could elect free agency without risking his guaranteed salary, since he has well over five years of MLB service.