Blue Jays sign Tyler Clippard to minor-league deal

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 16: Tyler Clippard
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 16: Tyler Clippard /

The Toronto Blue Jays, on Wednesday afternoon, signed right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, as the team announced.

Tyler Clippard has already passed his physical and is at Toronto’s spring training camp in Dunedin, Florida, Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet reported.  He was previously working out at the MLB Players’ Association camp in Bradenton before being signed by the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old split time between the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros in 2017, posting a 4.77 ERA and 4.57 FIP. He pitched 60.1 innings in relief, striking out 72 and walking 31. By Baseball Reference’s measures, he had a WAR of 0.1.

Complicating an already crowded field of Blue Jay bullpen hopefuls, the signing of Clippard provides Toronto with even more depth at a time when Al Alburquerque, John Axford, Craig Breslow, Tim Mayza, Matt Dermody, Luis Santos and others are already vying for spots on the major-league roster.

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As a minor-league signing, the addition of Clippard holds no risk and, judging from his All-Star performance with the Washington Nationals earlier in his career, he could turn out to be a very valuable asset in the bullpen.

Baseball Reference projects Clippard to pitch 61 innings in 2018 with an ERA of 4.28.

Clippard’s 2017 season, by FIP, was his worst since 2008 with the Nationals, only his second year in the majors. Between 2010 and 2014, Clippard had a FIP under 4.00.

Since 2014, when Clippard posted a FIP of 2.75 (then 4.27 in 2015), his velocity on his four-seam fastball has dropped less than a mile-per-hour, although his changeup dropped by more than one MPH, along with his splitter.

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Clippard, since 2009, has pitched at least 60 innings every season. including a career-high 91 innings with the Nationals in 2010. Clippard was an All-Star in 2011 and 2014, both with the Nationals.