Blue Jays Trade Rumors: Toronto checked in on Tyler Clippard


The Toronto Blue Jays continue to look for late-inning upgrades for the pitching staff. While a lot of the rumors thus far have had to do with the Blue Jays being tied to the Philadelphia Phillies and Jonathan Papelbon, and to a lesser extent the recently signed Rafael Soriano, a new target may have presented itself in recent days.

According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Blue Jays have recently touched base with the Oakland Athletics about the availability of Tyler Clippard.

Crasnick categorized the talks as check-in, which is basically common-talk for the A’s have an available player and the Blue Jays have a need, so it makes sense that the two clubs should be tied together. However, there is nothing to indicate that any parameters have been set for a deal or that the two clubs have even exchanged names.

Clippard, who the Athletics acquired from the Washington Nationals earlier this winter in exchange for Yunel Escobar, has nine saves in 11 opportunities in 2015, posting a 3.20 ERA in 25.1 innings of work for the A’s. However, he’s been rough to watch at times with a career-high 4.6 BB/9 ratio and a six-year low 7.8 K/9 mark. His 3.93 FIP is nothing to get excited about, and his 16.2% ground-ball rate and 4.2% HR/FB ratio seem to be contradictory.

The problem with Clippard is that he seems to perform best in a set-up role. Since becoming a full-time reliever in 2009, the now 30-year-old right-hander has put up excellent numbers in a set-up capacity, but has watched his performance dip when he’s been thrust into the role of a primary closer.

That said, Clippard may be the type of arm the Blue Jays will chase, more so due to his price tag than his performance. He’s owed a little more than $5.07 million at this point in the season and will be a free agent at the end of the season. Given the difficulty that Billy Beane would have in offering Clippard a qualifying offer at the end of the year, the return package would also be significantly more affordable.

With Jonathan Papelbon having a little more than $8 million owed to him for the remainder of 2015 and another $13 million vesting after he finished another 26 games this season, the financial decision certainly makes much more sense. Yes, the Phillies are willing to eat some of Papelbon’s salary as well, but on a sliding scale based on what they receive in return for the closer. Considering Ruben Amaro purportedly requested one of James Paxton or Taijuan Walker from the Mariners in exchange for outfielder Ben Revere, we can only imagine how much that sliding curve would cost the Blue Jays in prospects.

It may be the Blue Jays are forced to make a hard decision this summer, between improving the club in the short-term or hanging on to valued prospects for the long-term haul.

Next: Steve Tolleson and Devon Travis on the rehab trail

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