Blue Jays Sign Tyler Clippard to a Minor-League Deal

 

Blue Jays add veteran reliever Tyler Clippard on a minor-league deal to battle for one of the team’s open bullpen spots.

 

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News broke early Wednesday afternoon that the Blue Jays, who were reportedly done signing players this season, added Tyler Clippard on a minor-league deal. Clippard has been an MLB bullpen mainstay since his debut with the New York Yankees in 2007, working mostly as a set-up man or late inning reliever and even earning a total of 61 MLB saves, 32 coming as the Washington Nationals primary closer in 2012.

 

As the old baseball adage goes, there’s no such thing as a bad minor-league deal. With Clippard’s excellent MLB resume, it would be a long shot for him to not make the MLB roster, but there remains a question of who he forces off the roster should he have a strong showing in spring training.

Much of that will depend on the role the Blue Jays see as a fit, and  Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet summed up Clippard pretty well earlier today:

 

 

Clippard’s strength is the change-up, which has earned him plenty of high-leverage innings in his career despite being a relatively soft tosser. Imagine a taller, more hyper Marco Estrada coming in for 1 to 5 outs at a time and producing big whiffs on a change-up that he throws about 79.1 MPH, playing off a fastball which, at one time, touched 93 MPH, but now hovers around 91 MPH.

 

 

Career

As we stated  earlier, Clippard has had a fine career, and he’s still just 33 years old and presumably has something left in the tank. He has produced above-average numbers every season between 2008 and 2016, falling to a ERA+ of 92 in 2017, in which he played for three separate teams. Over his 12-year career, he’s posted a 130 ERA+, 3.11 ERA (3.84 FIP) and a voluptuous K/9 of 9.9 and a skinny 3.8 BB/9.

 

Standard Pitching
Year Age Tm ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO BF ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W Awards
2007 22 NYY 6.33 6 0 0 27.0 29 19 19 6 17 18 124 72 6.68 1.704 9.7 2.0 5.7 6.0 1.06
2008 23 WSN 4.35 2 0 0 10.1 12 5 5 2 7 8 48 102 6.13 1.839 10.5 1.7 6.1 7.0 1.14
2009 24 WSN 2.69 41 8 0 60.1 36 20 18 9 32 67 246 159 4.46 1.127 5.4 1.3 4.8 10.0 2.09
2010 25 WSN 3.07 78 18 1 91.0 69 33 31 8 41 112 378 132 3.18 1.209 6.8 0.8 4.1 11.1 2.73
2011 26 WSN 1.83 72 8 0 88.1 48 18 18 11 26 104 329 209 3.17 0.838 4.9 1.1 2.6 10.6 4.00 AS
2012 27 WSN 3.72 74 42 32 72.2 55 32 30 7 29 84 307 108 3.32 1.156 6.8 0.9 3.6 10.4 2.90
2013 28 WSN 2.41 72 6 0 71.0 37 19 19 9 24 73 275 158 3.82 0.859 4.7 1.1 3.0 9.3 3.04
2014 29 WSN 2.18 75 6 1 70.1 47 22 17 5 23 82 278 173 2.75 0.995 6.0 0.6 2.9 10.5 3.57 AS
2015 30 TOT 2.92 69 36 19 71.0 49 25 23 8 31 64 301 133 4.27 1.127 6.2 1.0 3.9 8.1 2.06
2016 31 TOT 3.57 69 17 3 63.0 54 27 25 10 26 72 262 124 4.21 1.270 7.7 1.4 3.7 10.3 2.77
2017 32 TOT 4.77 67 23 5 60.1 47 33 32 10 31 72 264 92 4.57 1.293 7.0 1.5 4.6 10.7 2.32
11 Y 11 Y 11 Y 3.11 625 164 61 685.1 483 253 237 85 287 756 2812 130 3.84 1.124 6.3 1.1 3.8 9.9 2.63
162 162 162 3.11 67 18 7 74 52 27 25 9 31 81 302 130 3.84 1.124 6.3 1.1 3.8 9.9 2.63
ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO BF ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W Awards
WSN WSN WSN 2.68 414 88 34 464.0 304 149 138 51 182 530 1861 148 3.46 1.047 5.9 1.0 3.5 10.3 2.91
NYY NYY NYY 4.67 75 14 3 88.2 77 49 46 16 47 86 389 96 5.24 1.398 7.8 1.6 4.8 8.7 1.83
ARI ARI ARI 4.30 40 10 1 37.2 34 18 18 7 15 46 155 105 4.31 1.301 8.1 1.7 3.6 11.0 3.07
NYM NYM NYM 3.06 32 6 2 32.1 24 13 11 5 10 26 134 125 4.65 1.052 6.7 1.4 2.8 7.2 2.60
OAK OAK OAK 2.79 37 30 17 38.2 25 12 12 3 21 38 167 141 3.96 1.190 5.8 0.7 4.9 8.8 1.81
HOU HOU HOU 6.43 16 9 2 14.0 11 10 10 3 7 18 62 63 5.09 1.286 7.1 1.9 4.5 11.6 2.57
CHW CHW CHW 1.80 11 7 2 10.0 8 2 2 0 5 12 44 247 2.26 1.300 7.2 0.0 4.5 10.8 2.40
NL ( NL ( NL ( 2.81 486 104 37 534.0 362 180 167 63 207 602 2150 142 3.60 1.066 6.1 1.1 3.5 10.1 2.91
AL ( AL ( AL ( 4.16 139 60 24 151.1 121 73 70 22 80 154 662 104 4.70 1.328 7.2 1.3 4.8 9.2 1.93
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/7/2018.

 

2018 Projections

Projections
Year ERA SV IP H R ER HR BB SO BF WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2018 4.28 5 61.0 54 31 29 9 27 64 263 1.328 8.0 1.3 4.0 9.4 2.37
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/7/2018.
Baseball Reference has…decent projections for Clippard in 2018, with a high ERA likely coming off his comparatively poor results in 2017. The numbers jive mostly with what he’s done of late in his career, but if he can figure out whatever caused his 2017 struggles (and we don’t have time to speculate on those right now), there’s no reason to not believe he won’t be a valuable piece to this bullpen going forward.

 

Plus, the move adds one some internet joy to the club, as Clippard, or the Clippardbot, is a terribly giffable player:

 

 

 

Featured Photo Credit: Bart Hanlon-flickr-CreativeCommons

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Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.

Roy-Z

Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.