The Diamondbacks were in clear need to find relief help in the market, whether by trade or by signing a free agent, in order to contend in 2016 and they've made their big move. After speculating for weeks about Clippard on this site, the Diamondbacks moved quickly to sign the reliever. Clippard started out with the Washington Nationals and broke in as a reliever in the 2010 season and has been one of the game's best late-inning guys since then. In 2015, he played for the Oakland A's before getting traded to the NL Champion New York Mets in July. The Diamondbacks are banking on his experience as a late-inning reliever to complement Ziegler in the back-end.
The Diamondbacks starting the offseason by signing away Zack Greinke from the Dodgers and Giants before anyone realized what was happening. Then they made the move to trade for Shelby Miller that included some very expensive assets in terms of prospects, but whining about it is beating a dead horse even though I don't like what they gave up either. With the moves made to bolster the starting rotation, you have to bolster the bullpen to protect the lead for those starters. The Diamondbacks have a fairly good rotation on paper, a young and very athletic position player group about to hit their prime, and hopefully a lock-down bullpen.
Clippard, who will be 31 next week, will get a 2-year contract worth $12.25M in guarantees from the Dbacks. The breakdown of the contract is:
Clippard deal with #DBacks is official, per source: $4M signing bonus, $4.1M salary in 2016, and $4.15M salary in 2017.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 8, 2016
Clippard is a harder-throwing version of Josh Collmenter. He has a deceptive and extreme over-the-top delivery that combines with a change-up I earlier described as "diabolically evil" to baffle hitters. Clippard is a master of inducing weaker contact and suppressing BABIP with late horizontal and vertical movement on his pitches. Advanced metrics such as FIP, xFIP, and SIERA were not a fan of his work in 2015 because of his ability to suppress BABIP, but he did produce 1.3 RA-9 WAR over 71 innings. In 2015, he struggled against right-handed hitters due to an possibly unsustainable jump in BABIP and Line Drive rate from his career norms as well as a 15% drop in strikeout rate from 2014. I'm not sure if that's a fluke or a warning sign, we can hope it's the former and not the latter.