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Arizona Diamondbacks Making Progress on a Deal Towards Reliever Tyler Clippard

The Diamondbacks are looking for late inning options and are banking on the experience that Clippard brings into that role. More information to come as we get the news.

Diamondbacks have started negotiating contracts with Tyler Clippard.
Diamondbacks have started negotiating contracts with Tyler Clippard.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Like every MLB team, the Diamondbacks are looking for ways to improve their bullpen situation. Last year the bullpen was about middle of the pack despite the fact that the team only had two consistent relievers over the course of the year. Brad Ziegler, Andrew Chafin, Daniel Hudson, and Silvino Bracho are the only players I have as absolute locks for the bullpen in 2016 and you can argue over whether Bracho is ready if you want. Assuming that Ziegler remains in his closer role from the end of 2015, Clippard would slide right into the 8th inning role while Hudson, Chafin, and Bracho figure out who has the 7th.

Steve Gilbert, the Diamondbacks beat reporter on, tweeted out that the Diamondbacks have opened preliminary discussions with Clippard:

For the Diamondbacks, they've already discussed potential 1-year and multi-year options for Clippard. The team needs to be very careful at this point because there are warning flags about a potential decline for Clippard. Clippard is a lot like Josh Collmenter, who uses a deceptive delivery and a diabolically evil change-up to baffle hitters to force hitters to make weak contact in the air. For those worrying about a BABIP regression from .211 in 2015, his career mark is .232 so his BABIP suppression I believe to be an actual skill instead of luck. One primary concern is the sudden increase in walk rate and jump in HR rate against RHB in 2015. I'm hoping it's just command problems instead of him not being able to fool the same-handed hitters anymore.

In addition, he's starting to lose fastball velocity although in 2015 his hard hit rate dropped to 24.3%, a 6-point improvement over 2014 and 3 points below his career average. The fastball velocity drop isn't necessarily a problem because he still has a very good velocity split between fastball and change-up, which roughly measured in at about a 12.5 MPH difference in 2015. Clippard was at his best in high-leverage situations in 2015 with a .122/.244/.222 slash and .208 wOBA against opposing hitters in 86 plate appearances. Clippard has been historically great in these situations, and the Diamondbacks could use a guy like him to bolster the bullpen. I realistically expect him to contribute about 1.0-1.5 RA-9 WAR for the team in 2016.