The Nationals were reportedly looking at a reunion with Tyler Clippard before the Athletics traded him to the Mets tonight, but there’s a chance they could do something a lot bigger to strengthen the back-end of their bullpen.
According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals are the “hottest” among teams for Padres closer Craig Kimbrel. The team has also reportedly been linked to Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. With that in mind, Rosenthal was told by a friend of Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo that he would “almost bet my house that he will do something big.”
The Nationals already have an All-Star closer with Drew Storen, who has posted a 1.73 ERA and 44/9 K/BB ratio over 36 1/3 innings this season while going 29-for-31 in save chances. However, the bridge to the ninth inning for Washington has been shakier than in previous seasons. If the Nationals were to acquire Kimbrel or Chapman, Storen could be moved back into a set-up role.
Kimbrel, 27, has posted a 2.75 ERA and 55/15 K/BB ratio over 39 1/3 innings this season while compiling 29 saves. He’s owed $24 million from 2016-2017 and his contract includes a $13 million club option or a $1 million buyout for 2018. It would be a costly acquisition, but he’s still one of the top closers in the game and the Nationals have the kind of payroll to bring him aboard.
Interestingly, Rosenthal also confirmed that the Padres asked the Nationals about prospect shortstop Trea Turner in talks for Kimbrel. They were shot down. Of course, the Padres dealt Turner to the Nationals as a player to be named later in the three-team Wil Myers trade.
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.