The Mets acquired RHP Tyler Clippard from the A’s ahead of the July 31 non-waiver deadline in exchange for minor league pitching prospect Casey Meisner.
But the Mets acquired Clippard knowing it was very possible he could leave as a free agent after the season, becoming nothing more than a rental in exchange for a quality prospect.
But as the Mets seek to shore up their late inning relief formula in the bullpen, assistant GM John Ricco said on Monday in Nashville the club has considered re-signing Clippard this winter.
Ricco did say Clippard was one of many free agent relievers the Mets are interested in.
“There’s a lengthy group,” Ricco explained. “We are still kind of going through and meeting and trying to gather information on that list of right-handed relievers.”
The Mets must also consider the left-side of their bullpen as well. Ricco said on Sunday there is mutual interest in a reunion with Jerry Blevins as a lefty specialist. They do have Josh Edgin, but he is recovering from Tommy John Surgery and Ricco confirmed he is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day.
As for Clippard, he can go a long way towards neutralizing big left-handed bats, as he proved so well during his brief tenure with the Mets. He held left-handed hitters to a .137 average in 2015 and a .174 average with the Mets after being acquired. He has a deadly change-up and an awkward delivery which makes him very deceptive.
He unquestionably struggled in September and became a question mark in the postseason for the Mets in October. But that could be due to a real heavy workload in August, during which he basically pitched every other day on average and made way too many back-to-back appearances during that timeframe. It’s not an excuse for his uneven performance in September and October, but it cannot be discounted as a reason either.
It seemed like a given Clippard would be able to command a multi-year deal in free agency when the off-season began, and now that teams are clearly willing to pay a premium for short relief, Clippard will unquestionably be able to net at least a two-year deal. It remains to be seen if the Mets are willing to go down that road for a reliever, but if they want a lockdown formula for their bullpen, they may have to.
Clippard said he enjoyed his time with the Mets, so conceivably he should be open to a reunion if the Mets show interest.
Clippard went 3-0 with a 3.06 ERA in 32 relief appearances for the Mets in 2015. Overall with the A’s and Mets, the 30-year-old reliever went 5-4 with a 2.92 ERA in 69 relief appearances in 2015.