Nationals And Reliever Tyler Clippard Exchange Arbitration Figures

Steve Mitchell

The Washington Nationals and right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard exchanged arbitration figures yesterday when they were unable to agree on a contract for the 2014 campaign. They can still agree on a deal, but the pitcher and team are $1.9M apart...

Amongst qualified National League relievers in 2013, Washington Nationals' right-hander Tyler Clippard had the lowest opponents' batting average (.150, ahead of the LA Dodgers' Paco Rodriguez at .160 BAA and the Cincinnati Reds' Aroldis Chapman's .164 BAA). Clippard, who will turn 29 in February, also had the NL's lowest BABIP amongst qualified relievers, posting a .170 BABIP in 2013, with the Atlanta Braves' Luis Atilan's .204 BABIP a distant second. Clippard's 0.86 WHIP for the 2013 campaign was the NL's lowest, tied with the Dodgers' Kenley Jansen.

"He's been the most consistent guy, probably in the major leagues, over the last two or three years. At least since I've been here." - Davey Johnson on Tyler Clippard on MASN in Sept, 2013

The .150 opponents' batting average was the lowest against Clippard in his eight-year career. The .170 BABIP was the lowest as well. Clippard's 0.86 WHIP was the second-lowest he's posted.

"'He’s been the most consistent pitcher I’ve had in some time,'" Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters, including CSNWashington.com's Chase Hughes, in August. "'And his numbers are off the charts.'"

Clippard's seventh major league season, his sixth in D.C. following a December 2007 trade that brought him to the Nationals from the Yankees, ended with the right-hander having made 72 relief appearances over which he put up a 2.41 ERA, a 3.82 FIP (which was up from 3.17 in 2011 and 3.31 in 2012), 24 walks (3.04 BB/9 - the second lowest BB/9 in his career) and 73 Ks (9.25 K/9, down from 11.08 K/9 in 2010, 10.60 K/9 in '11 and 10.40 K/9 in 2012) in 71 IP over which was worth +0.4 fWAR (down from +1.4 in 2010, +1.6 in 2011 and +1.2 in 2012).

"He's been outstanding," Davey Johnson said in the final weeks of the 2013 season. "I mean, last year as my closer [he had] 32 saves. He's been outstanding. Without him early in the season... I mean, I used him as my left-hander out of the pen and sometimes I used him as early as the seventh inning. He's had a harder workload to keep us where we're at. A lot of times I even had to have him in ballgames where we're behind. But he's been the most consistent guy, probably in the major leagues, over the last two or three years. At least since I've been here."

Though there were rumors of interest in Clippard (and Drew Storen) this winter, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo told reporters,  including the Washington Post's James Wagner, that there was, "'...no trade scenario that’s official that included Clippard or Storen.'" Rizzo, "'...would need to have his socks knocked off' to move either," a "person familiar with the situation" told the WaPost reporter. Apparently no one has knocked the Nationals' general manager's socks off yet this winter.

Clippard is, however, along with Doug Fister, one of two arbitration-eligible players who didn't agree on a contract for the 2014 season before Friday afternoon's deadline for teams to exchange salary figures with their arbitration-eligible players, so they had to file the figures they will take to arbitration should the case go before an arbitration panel:

That's a $1.9M difference, which Yahoo!Sports.com's Mr. Passan wrote on Twitter last night was the sixth-biggest gap between team and player.

Clippard and the Nationals avoided arbitration last January when they agreed on a 1-year/$4M deal. MLBTraderumors.com's arbitration projections estimated Clippard would get $6.2M. Will the final figure end up closer to Clippard's ask and the MLBTR projection or the Nationals' offer?

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