At last month's NatsFest, now-former Washington Nationals' set-up man Tyler Clippard talked about appreciating being appreciated by baseball fans in the nation's capital, especially since he'd mostly been in a role he said doesn't always get the attention that the closer's or a starter's role does.
"The fans in D.C., from my perspective, have been so supportive of me," Clippard told reporters.
"And, I think, a guy in my role, I’m not … I haven’t really been the closer for this team. I’ve been more of a set-up guy, middle relief-type pitcher. For the fans to take notice of what I’ve done is nice and I feel like a little bit unusual and they’ve been so supportive of me and a lot of fans today have said, ‘We want you. Don’t leave us. Stick around.’ And that support, it means a lot and is a big reason why I do want to stick around."
What Clippard, 29, did in his eighth major league season in 2014, was post a 2.18 ERA, a 2.75 FIP, 23 walks (2.94 BB/9) and 82 Ks (10.49 K/9) in 75 games and 70 ⅓ IP over which he was worth +1.5 fWAR.
Since he joined the Nationals in a late December 2007 trade that sent right-hander Jonathan Albaladejo to New York's Yankees, Clippard's been worth +6.6 fWAR, good for eighth overall amongst NL relievers over that stretch (2008-14), with a 2.64 ERA, a 3.40 FIP and 10.36 K/9 in 453 ⅔ IP.
Clippard also saved 32 games for the NL East Champion Nationals in 2012 while closer Drew Storen recovered from elbow surgery.
The Nationals traded Clippard to the Oakland A's on Wednesday night, ending his time in the nation's capital.
Earlier this winter, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, among others, talked to sources who said the veteran right-hander was "likely" to get dealt this winter since the Nationals are currently, "... deep in right-handed relievers," and Clippard is due to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $9M this season before hitting free agency after the 2015 campaign.
Nats' GM Mike Rizzo seemingly filled the biggest hole in the Nationals' roster by acquiring Yunel Escobar from the Athletics straight-up for Clippard, just a week after the A's acquired the 32-year-old shortstop from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Barring further moves, Escobar, who is under team control through the next two seasons (at $12M) with a club option for 2017 (at $7M), can play second base in 2015, short if necessary in 2016 depending on how things play out with Ian Desmond, and bridge the gap until the next-generation of Nationals' infielders like Wilmer Difo and Trea Turner are major-league ready.
Clippard took to social media and his Twitter account after the deal was officially announced, to once again let fans in the nation's capital know he appreciated the time he spent with the Nationals:
Just got traded to Oakland! Crazy night! I'm gonna miss all my boys, this is the hard part of the business! Very excited though!— Tyler Clippard (@TylerClippard) January 15, 2015
I loved every second of my time in DC, through the ups and downs the good and bad, every second was wonderful. Thanks forever Nats Nation!— Tyler Clippard (@TylerClippard) January 15, 2015
Storen said he'll miss his now-former room- and bullpen mate:
Sing it with Clipp one last time... "Millions of peaches, peaches for free...millions of peaches...":
One last time for all the fans who where there in the beginning! http://t.co/vFSk6iimv3— Tyler Clippard (@TylerClippard) January 15, 2015
[ed. note - "In a 2010 interview, we asked Tyler Clippard for the story behind his old entrance music and got the following non-answer. Clippard eventually switched to The Fugees' song, "Ready or Not", as his song, but as far as we know, he never actually told anyone why "Peaches" was his old one:
FBB: Is there a story behind your entrance music and what's it like to be embraced by the DC fanbase?
Tyler Clippard: "It's awesome, man. The fans here in Washington have been great so far ever since I stepped foot in this organization, and being in the big leagues here, even last year when we were losing a bunch, the fans were still great to us as players and stuff, and the whole "Peaches" situation more or less started as a joke in Triple-A and then it's kind of this growing monster in the sense that I've been pitching really well with this walk-out song, so I have to keep it..."