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Relief pitcher Tyler Clippard may have a new MLB stadium to call home -- and not a moment too soon. Pitchers and catchers report in less than two weeks, putting pressure on clubs to round out their rosters before the frenzy of Spring Training competition begins. According to Bob Nightengale and Mark Topkin, both the Rays and the Diamondbacks have expressed interest in the hurler, who looks to be one of the most successful and affordable relievers left on the free agent market. Although the Mets have also been linked to their ex-pitcher, general manager Sandy Alderson appears to have closed the door to additional major league deals at this time.
Clippard was a valuable contributor for the Mets and A's in 2015, boasting a cumulative 2.92 ERA and 4.28 FIP in 69 outings and bolstering several wins in the postseason to boot. While Clippard's track record is almost as impressive as his ability to stay healthy, concerns about the right-hander's velocity have steadily increased over the last two seasons. Beyond the Box Score's Spencer Bingol noted that the 30-year-old logged more innings in a seven-year period than any other major league relief pitcher, making the threat of injury almost an inevitable issue in the years to come. Despite Clippard's low price tag, it's natural that the Diamondbacks and Rays would be cautious to pick up an overtaxed reliever, no matter how well-proven he is.
Talks have yet to commence on either side, but Clippard should have little competition left on the free agent market, especially with the Diamondbacks unwilling to trade for additional relief. The right-hander is expected to garner around $6 million per year, which won't max out the budgets of either team. If his salary were based on achievements alone, Clippard could demand a higher fee for a multi-year deal, but his waning velocity and risk of fatigue will likely force the veteran righty to accept a one-year deal. That could be enough to satisfy the Rays, who are looking for bullpen depth amidst a pool of injured relievers, but the Diamondbacks might want to hold out for a more long-term solution.
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