When the Washington Nationals acquired Tyler Clippard in 2007 from the New York Yankees for Jonathan Albaladejo, they thought they were getting a starter who would make his mark in their rotation for years to come. Little did they know Clippard was destined to become one of the most dominant relievers in baseball over the last five seasons. Over the past five seasons, Clippard has struck out 440 batters in 383.1 innings, has also allowed only 245 hits and owns a 2.72 ERA over that time. Needless to say, Clippard and the word dominant have been pretty interchangeable over the past five seasons.
Clippard is due to become a free agent in 2016 and is slated to make $5.875 million in 2014. For a right-handed reliever entering his age 29 season, that’s pretty pricey. However, it would be hard to argue that Washington has not gotten their money’s worth from Clippard over the course of his career in D.C., especially based on the aforementioned stats and the impressive 146 ERA+ over the same time span. One negative, however, is Clippard’s workload over the past few seasons. Clippard’s career-high in innings pitched is 91 in 2010, but his workload has steadily decreased since then.
Under normal circumstances, this would be alarming, but with Clippard, the only reason to worry is in regard to how much he is paid. If Clippard gets hurt, then it’s almost $6 million down the drain, but he has had very little injury problems in his career. The fact of the matter is that Clippard’s workload is nothing to worry about. He is a converted starter, so his arm is used to a heavy workload, and it’s something the Nationals most likely will never have to worry about. The key to Clippard’s workload concerns is the Nationals should not sign him long term. Relievers are the ultimate gamble, and what teams tend to do is use them up and let them walk away. The Nationals have the rights to Clippard through his age 31 season, and that is when a great relationship should come to an end. Clippard’s workload is not a concern now, but when he is eligible for free agency, the Nationals should just let him go.