2:21pm: Clippard and the Diamondbacks are now close to a deal, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).
10:42am: Stewart confirmed to MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert that the D-backs are talking with Clippard and optimistic about a deal (Twitter link). “We’ve talked concepts,” the GM told Gilbert. “We’re hopeful we can get something done.”
10:28am: The D-backs and right-hander Tyler Clippard are making progress on a contract, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Piecoro’s source described the team as “hopeful” of reaching an agreement, and Piecoro adds that both one-year and multi-year deals have been discussed thus far in talks.
Just last Thursday, Arizona general manager Dave Stewart said that his team wasn’t active on the free-agent market or in trade pursuits. However, less than 24 hours later, Stewart told Piecoro that there was a “good possibility” that the D-backs would reach out to Clippard’s representatives, as they had yet to do so this offseason. Clippard is also reportedly drawing some interest from the Rays and Astros in the past week, although neither club’s pursuit hasn’t been characterized as serious to this point.
Clippard, who will turn 31 on Valentine’s Day, has been baseball’s most durable reliever over the past six seasons, working to a 2.67 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 464 1/3 innings. No reliever is within even 50 innings of Clippard in that time. He’s never been on the disabled list and has averaged 73 appearances and 77 innings per season in that six-year stretch. Of course, that durability could serve as a red flag as well. Clippard has seen his velocity drop in three consecutive seasons and saw his strikeout and walk rates trend in the wrong direction in 2015. He was also baseball’s most extreme fly-ball pitcher last year (and has a long history of being one of the more pronounced fly-ball pitchers in the game), which could be a poor fit with Arizona’s hitter-friendly home stadium.
The Diamondbacks’ bullpen projects to include Brad Ziegler, Daniel Hudson, Andrew Chafin, Randall Delgado and Josh Collmenter at this time, though the team has a significant number of intriguing younger arms as well. Last week, when downplaying the possibility of adding a bullpen arm, Stewart mentioned Silvino Bracho, Enrique Burgos, Jake Barrett, Cody Hall, Dominic Leone, Evan Marshall, Same LeCure and Wesley Wright as internal options that could fill in the final two spots in the bullpen. However, the D-backs did save about $4MM in the trade that sent Aaron Hill, Chase Anderson and Isan Diaz to the Brewers in exchange for Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner, and the team’s new $1.5 billion television contract does kick in this season, so there should be more than enough money to bring Clippard into the fold should he ultimately be deemed an upgrade.