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July 31, 2016

Transaction Analysis

Yankees Reunite With Clippard

by Kenny Ducey and Steve Givarz

IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

NEW YORK YANKEES
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Acquired RHP Tyler Clippard from Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Vicente Campos. [7/31]

The Yankees are trying to win now, but they’re also trying to win later. Enter old friend Tyler Clippard, a once-elite, 31-year-old right-handed reliever who comes over from the Diamondbacks with an unspectacular 4.30 ERA in 37 ⅔ innings.

Clippard, who was taken in the ninth round of the 2003 draft by the Yankees and debuted in New York, has relocated quite a few times over the past two years. After a long stint in Washington, D.C., where he earned two trips to the All-Star game, Clippard spent time with the A’s and Mets last season, serving as an effective late reliever with numbers a bit more bloated than normal.

This year, in Arizona on a new two-year deal, things started off smoothly and have quickly taken a turn in the other direction. Clippard was humming along through most of July, with a 2.80 ERA through mid-month, until allowing seven earned runs in 2 ⅓ innings over his last three appearances, and nearly blowing two games. There’s hope this is just a blip on the radar, and his 3.55 DRA helps speak to that a bit, but at some point this ironman reliever will decline.

With that in mind, this is obviously a short-term play for Brian Cashman. Clippard is under contract for $6 million next season, and will help the team fill the void left by Andrew Miller, who would have been in New York until 2019 if not for Sunday’s trade to the Indians. Ownership is insistent on keeping a winning team on the field, so Clippard and Adam Warren will do their best to pose as shutdown setup men behind new closer Dellin Betances. New York is betting a change of scenery will help the duo, and while that may be true for Warren--who has pitched his best in pinstripes--it may not be true for Clippard, if you choose to believe he was experiencing motivation-based issues on a bad team. Let’s face it—at the moment, the Diamondbacks' chances of winning it all are not a whole lot different than the Yankees’. —Kenny Ducey

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
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Acquired RHP Vicente Campos from New York Yankees in exchange for RHP Tyler Clippard. [7/31]

Campos has had somewhat of a resurgence this year, reaching Double-A, and subsequently Triple-A, for the first time in his professional career. Considering he missed all of 2014 and the majority of 2015 from Tommy John Surgery, he was a surprising player to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. When I profiled Campos back in April the tool set of a potential impact arm was there, but that he was still learning how to harness his overall command.

Originally acquired from the Mariners as part of the Jesus Montero trade, Campos pitches from a full windup with a compact arm action and fair arm speed, all from a three-quarters slot. He sits 91-93 mph with some running movement down in the zone. His control of the pitch was above-average as he was able to pound the zone with strikes, but they weren’t quality strikes as he misses over the heart of the plate far too often. The curveball isn’t as sharp as it used to be, but is still an effective offering at 75-78 mph. The pitch has a distinct 11/5 shape and he's able to locate it over the plate for strikes. Again, he was able to throw for strikes, but his command was lackluster as he struggles to put away hitters with the offering. His changeup is an effective offering, coming in at 84-85 mph--he maintains arm speed on the pitch and it features good tumbling action.

Campos has already well surpassed his previous career-high in innings pitched as he currently has 121. It remains to be seen how he will hold up, but he has maintained his velocity thus far since I saw him prior to his promotion. It seems like Campos will be given opportunities to start in Arizona’s system. The command has improved slightly, which still leaves hope of a potential back-of-the-rotation starter. —Steve Givarz

Steve Givarz is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Steve's other articles. You can contact Steve by clicking here

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