Geez, yet another trade has been made by the Nats. For this one, they traded reliever Jonathan Albaladejo for starter Tyler Clippard.
Clippard, you may remember, came in this spring when many of the Yankees starters went down and pitched a great first game, 6 IP, 1 ER, 6 Ks, 3 BBs against the Mets. He started 6 games, and did well in the first 4, while giving up 6 ERs in his 5th start and 5 ERs in the 6th start. So his ERA jumped from 3.60 after 4 starts to 6.33 after 6. In the minor leagues, he has done pretty well, with a career ERA of 3.52. He hasn’t done great at the AAA level yet, but he’s only 22 right now. What’s most appealing about him are those peripherals. 3/1 K/BB ratio and a K/9 over 9. He has been able to strike guys out at every level, which is always nice to see. He could probably use a few months in AAA, but with the Nats, he’s probably already one of their better options, so look for him to start in April. If not, with an even decent AAA showing he’ll probably be up by the middle of the season.
Baseball America ranked Clippard as the Yankees #7 prospect last season, and had this to say about him:
Clippard has figured out how put hitters away at every level without “wow” stuff. He frequently pitches backward because he can throw his curveball and changeup, both slightly above-average pitches, for quality strikes. His long arms and lanky body add deception to his delivery
So he doesn’t have a blazing fastball either, but he does pitch well. And a great fastball is less necessary for a starter than a reliever, because a starter usually has the opportunity to use more pitches. Looking at the picture, I can see how that delivery may be a little tough to deal with.
As for Albaladejo, I actually really liked him. He barely sniffed the majors, but did very well there. However, in the minors, he’s been very good since converting from a starter to a reliever. His K/BB ratio is almost 4/1, but he doesn’t have a blazing fastball. Which means even though he has been an effective reliever, he may not be the closer type. But he was never ranked among the Nats top prospects, even when their farm system was empty.
How did they do with this trade?
Well, first of all, I think this trade is exactly what the Nats should be doing. They have a strong bullpen, and they basically traded away a bullpen prospect for a starting prospect. And they traded a 24 year old for a 22 year old, which is good. Not because they’re getting younger – 2 years is barely a blip on the teams radar. But in terms of prospects 2 years is a huge difference. I also think they got the better player. This trade wasn’t bad for the Yankees, Albaladejo will add to a weak bullpen, while Clippard probably isn’t better than a back-of-the-rotation starter in the AL. And the Yankees wouldn’t give him a chance to do that without injuries to their other guys. On the Nats, he has a chance to play, and his ceiling is a little higher in the NL. The Nats may end up with an effective middle-of-the-rotation guy. Good trade for both teams, but the Nats got the better end of the deal now, AND more upside.