Jul 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Tyler Clippard (36) follows through on a pitch against the Seattle Mariners in the ninth inning at O.co Coliseum. The Athletics defeated the Mariners 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
#4: Tyler Clippard
As much as the Detroit Tigers need a setup man, they will need a closer in 2016. With the way Joakim Soria has been misused and mismanaged by Brad Ausmus in his 1 1/2 years here, it is almost a certainty he has a bad taste for the team and wants to test the waters elsewhere.
With the Tigers reluctance to give him a role last year, and their reluctance to make him closer until Joe Nathan was injured early this season, it seems clear the organization does not hold Soria’s skills in high esteem.
They could, of course, go with Nathan as closer in 2016 if they choose and his health will allow. The Tigers actually hold a $10 million team option on the soon-to-be 41-year-old pitcher, but it seems extremely likely they will pay him his $1 million buyout and say adieu.
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So where does that leave us? Bruce Rondon? He was given the closers role in Spring Training 2013 and didn’t even make it to the Opening Day roster. Alex Wilson? His future may be as a starter. Angel Nesbitt? He showed flashes early this year but does not appear to be ready.
So how about closer Tyler Clippard? He was actually traded by the Oakland Athletics to the New York Mets on Monday in yet another Moneyball rebuilding effort.
Clippard is playing in the final year of his original deal that began with the New York Yankees and transferred to the Washington Nationals and now Oakland and with the Mets via trades.
He was the Nationals’ primary closer in 2012, saving 32 games and has become more important in that role with Oakland this year saving 17 out of 19 games, although he has blown his last two save opportunities as of Monday.
Clippard is fairly young (will be 31 next season) and figures to cost less and be more valuable than the bloated contract the Tigers dispensed to their last closer. He would also probably come a little cheaper than Soria if the Tigers did indeed want to pursue that option.