After upgrading their lineup over the weekend with the additions of Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, the Mets addressed the back-end of their bullpen tonight by acquiring reliever Tyler Clippard from the Athletics for prospect right-hander Casey Meisner. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports that Oakland is including $1 million in the deal, so the Mets will be responsible for around $2 million of Clippard’s remaining salary.
Clippard has functioned as Oakland’s primary closer this season, posting a 2.79 ERA and 38/21 K/BB ratio in 38 2/3 innings while going 17-for-21 in save chances. He’ll presumably move back into a set-up role in New York and has a chance to form a potent late-inning duo with closer Jeurys Familia. While Clippard’s walks are up a bit this season, he has been one of the game’s better relievers dating back to 2009. Bobby Parnell hasn’t shown his pre-Tommy John surgery form quite yet and Jenrry Mejia isn’t eligible to pitch in the postseason, so it’s a smart move for the Mets. It also helps to keep Clippard away from the first-place Nationals, who reportedly had interest in bringing him back.
Meisner, a third-round pick from 2013, owns a 2.89 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 35 starts and six relief appearances in the minors. The 20-year-old has split this season between Class A Savannah and High-A St. Lucie. He could be a useful piece down the road for Oakland, but the Mets still have plenty of prospect depth if they decide to pick up another bat in the coming days.
Now that the A’s are officially open for business following the Scott Kazmir trade Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that closer Tyler Clippard is the next impending free agent expected to be traded away from Oakland and “perhaps as soon as Monday.”
Clippard was acquired from the Nationals this offseason to act as the A’s setup man and instead stepped into the closer role with Sean Doolittle hurt. He’s been shaky at times thanks to poor control, but Clippard has a 2.79 ERA and .175 opponents’ batting average in 39 innings and has been an elite-level reliever since 2009.
According to Slusser the interested teams include the Yankees, Mets, and Nationals, for whom Clippard pitched from 2008-2014. And he actually came up with the Yankees in 2007 as a prospect before being traded to the Nationals.
The Pirates acquired veteran third baseman Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers this afternoon, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that they aren’t done making moves.
It’s unclear who the Pirates could be targeting. They already have an All-Star closer with Mark Melancon and a top set-up man with Tony Watson, so don’t look for someone like Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez, or Craig Kimbrel to end up in Pittsburgh. However, names like Tyler Clippard, Joaquin Benoit, Steve Cishek, and Jim Johnson could make some sense.
Entering tonight’s action, Pirates relievers ranked third in the majors with a 2.50 ERA. It never hurts to look for ways to improve, though.
Houston just made the first big splash of trade deadline season, acquiring left-hander Scott Kazmir from Oakland to bolster the rotation in exchange for minor leaguers Jake Nottingham and Dan Mengden.
Kazmir went from 22-year-old All-Star and Rays phenom to totally out of the big leagues in 2012, but resurrected his career with the Indians in 2013 and has been brilliant for the A’s since signing a two-year, $22 million deal as a free agent last offseason. Kazmir posted a 3.12 ERA in 50 total starts for Oakland, including a 2.38 ERA and 101/35 K/BB ratio in 110 innings this season with a big payday via free agency waiting around the corner.
He’s a legit top-of-the-rotation starter and now pairs with Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, who was arguably the AL’s best pitcher in the first half. Houston is pushing some of their chips into the middle of the table after going from rebuilding to contending much more quickly than expected, starting the season 53-43 after losing 92, 111, 107, and 106 games during the past four years. They have tons of young talent headlined by rookie shortstop Carlos Correa, the Astros lead the league in homers and are third in runs scored, and now they have a pair of excellent southpaws atop the rotation. General manager Jeff Luhnow and company are going for it.
Neither minor leaguer the A’s received for Kazmir is considered a top prospect, but that’s to be expected given his impending free agency in two months. Nottingham was a 2013 sixth-round pick who struggled in his first two pro seasons, but the 20-year-old catcher/first baseman has hit .326 with 14 homers and a .941 OPS in 76 games at Single-A this year. Mengden was a 2014 fourth-round pick who’s pitched well at Single-A this season as a 22-year-old, throwing 88 innings with a 3.46 ERA and 84/26 K/BB ratio.
Next up for the A’s: Trading fellow impending free agent Tyler Clippard and Ben Zobrist.
Being without All-Star closer Sean Doolittle for all but one game this season is one of many things that have gone wrong for the A’s on the way to a 44-52 record, but Doolittle hasn’t given up hope of pitching again in 2015.
On the disabled list with a shoulder injury for the second time, Doolittle told Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com:
I’ve been working so hard to get back. I have my mind set on pitching this year. Obviously we’re going to be smart with it. But it looks like there’s a really good chance I’ll be pitching this year.
Tyler Clippard has subbed for Doolittle in the closer role, but as an impending free agent the A’s may be looking to trade Clippard. If nothing else, Doolittle returning for some late-season appearances would give him and the A’s a little confidence heading into 2016 and perhaps even enough to label him as the closer again heading into the offseason.
Doolittle converted from first baseman to reliever and debuted for the A’s in 2012, first thriving as a setup man and then thriving as a closer. Overall he has a 2.95 ERA and 211/32 K/BB ratio in 180 innings, including an All-Star appearance last year.