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OAKLAND ATHLETICS
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Acquired RHP Casey Meisner from the Mets in exchange for RHP Tyler Clippard and cash considerations. [7/27]

Meisner, a tall, lanky righty, is all about projection. He is still growing into his frame and tools. The rudimentary pieces for a mid-rotation starter are here, but skill-growth and development are needed across the board. Meisner is a good athlete for his size, and as he comes into some strength it’s not hard to see him repeating his delivery better. When I saw him last year he quickly ran out of gas after the first couple of innings, but he showed a mature feel for his craft and commanded an 87–89 mph (touching 91) fastball that fell off into the mid-80s. The drop wasn’t a concern for me because the arm speed is here for more velocity and consistency once he fills in.

Both his changeup and curveball were low-to-mid-70s and inconsistent. Meisner flashes good feel for both offerings and they are sometimes above average, but the shape and location aren’t always there. Ultimately, I see a starter’s delivery and the makings of three pitches and command that all grade average or better. That’s the potential profile of a no. 3 or 4 starter, but we’re looking at a fairly long developmental path, which, combined with the need for growth, both physical and in his skills, equates to a project with a fair amount of risk—but this is the kind of project I can get behind. –Al Skorupa

NEW YORK METS
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Acquired RHP Tyler Clippard and cash considerations from the Athletics in exchange for RHP Casey Meisner. [7/27]

Acquiring Clippard in the past meant adding the league’s top workhorse setup man. Now, months from free agency, Clippard is having an uncharacteristic 2015.

The oddness starts with usage. That “workhorse” designation used to stem from his impressive appearance totals: He’s pitched in at least 70 games in five consecutive seasons. But the A’s, perhaps motivated by their poor alternatives, eschewed Clippard’s traditional deployment. The resulting strategy saw Clippard record 10 fewer appearances through July 27th than he had in each of the previous two seasons, while also tallying seven multi-inning outings, three more than he had from 2012 to 2014 combined.

Whether those usage alterations affected Clippard in other ways is anyone’s guess, but there’s no denying he’s changed for the worse in ways. His fastball control has deteriorated, guiding him to poorer component measures. Additionally, his extreme fly-ball ways have reached a new level: His 22 percent groundball rate is the worst of his full-season career, as well as the lowest among major-league pitchers with more than 20 innings.

The good news for the Mets is that Clippard has remained employable in the late innings by maintaining some old tricks. While he’s allowing more baserunners than normal, he continues to maximize his strand rate by limiting the quality of contact against him. Clippard’s hit, home run, and extra-base hit rates are on the right side of the line and his pop-up rate is the 17th-best in the majors. Add in his almost-unchanged whiff rate and there are reasons to think his stuff will allow him to be effective for the next two months, if not the next two years.

2015

2012-14

H/9

5.8

5.8

HR/FB%

4.4%

7.5%

XBH/H%

36%

33%

Contact%

73%

71.7%

There’s obvious risk here—that Clippard is secretly hurt, or that he begins allowing that hard contact—but it’s important to note that the Mets have a low late-inning bar to begin with. Former closers Bobby Parnell and Jenrry Mejia each have major reliability issues. Parnell is 14 appearances into his post–Tommy John surgery career while Mejia is ineligible for the postseason due to his PED suspension earlier in the year. Without an external addition, those situations could have meant picking between two journeymen (Carlos and Alex Torres) and two former Rule 5 picks (Sean Gilmartin, Logan Verrett) in the middle and late innings en route to the Mets’ one reliable high-leverage reliever (Jeurys Familia).

That scenario is no longer on the table. What’s more is the Mets’ bullpen depth could be much improved in the coming month with the return of Jerry Blevins and the possible insertion of an unused starter. But the Mets have to remain competitive until then for those possibilities to matter; Clippard should help accomplish that feat. –R.J. Anderson

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sam19041
7/28
Missing from this piece: Clippard makes sense for the Mets, but was the price "too high"? Could they realistically have acquired a better reliever or paid less to acquire that reliever (or Clippard)? Looking for some good Monday morning quarterbacking here! Keith Law said it was a huge overpay for a 2-month rental!