This morning the Yankees traded Andrew Miller to the Cleveland Indians for a big haul of prospects headlined by Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield. To compensate for the loss of their closer, New York quickly swooped in and made a deal to acquire Tyler Clippard from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
If you’re wondering why Clippard sounds familiar it’s because the right-hander came up with the Yankees, debuting as a starting pitcher in 2007. He was given the moniker of "The Yankee Clippard" before abruptly being traded after the season for Jonathan Albaladejo, one of the only trades that Brian Cashman completely missed on.
Albaladejo was a mediocre return over the next three seasons, while Clippard went on to become a reliable reliever by 2009, saving 32 games in 2012, and making two All-Star appearances while with the Nationals. He spent 2015 with the Oakland Athletics and New York Mets as a member of their playoff roster. As a free agent for the first time this offseason, he signed a two-year, $12 million deal with Arizona that the Yankees now take on.
As good of a pitcher as he has been, though, 2016 might be the year it all falls apart. In his age-31 season, Clippard has a 4.30 ERA and FIP 4.30 over 37.2 innings, making it seem like he is what he is right now. One of the problems with him over his career, and especially now, is that he is a fly ball pitcher. He has allowed a fly ball rate of 55.9% and a home run rate of 1.08 HR/9 over his career, and has been even worse this year with a career-high 1.67 HR/9 and 17.1% home run per fly ball. This does not sound like a recipe for success in the Bronx. Plus, his velocity has been down slightly, so it’s odd why they would even make this deal.
While we don’t know how he will be used, the prevailing theory is that the Yankees acquired Clippard to use as their closer in order to keep Dellin Betances’ value down. Betances will be arbitration eligible in 2017, and bringing in a new closer and declaring his role will be the team’s way to keep Betances cheap, since saves are invaluable to relievers in arbitration cases.
Then again, this could be the plan:
#Yankees plan is for Clippard to work 7th inning, hope Warren, young arms Severino/Green/eventually Mitchell can set up Betances— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 31, 2016
It might be financially savvy to keep his value down, but it seems more trouble than it’s worth. They already denied Betances a raise this season, and if they were to do this to him now, it wouldn’t do much for their relationship at this point.
So Vicente Campos is going to the Diamondbacks in this trade. Your thoughts?