In a move reminiscent of last winter’s signing of minor league pitcher Kyle Finnegan (which worked out pretty well), the Washington Nationals announced this afternoon that they have signed Sam Clay, a veteran of six seasons in the Minnesota Twins’ system, to a major league deal.
Clay, 27, is a 2014 4th Round pick by Minnesota, who pitched at Double-A Pensacola and at Triple-A Rochester in the Twins’ system in 2019 (posting a combined 3.89 ERA, with 28 walks, and 72 Ks in 45 games, one start, and 69 1⁄3 IP), who hasn’t made it to the majors yet, but the Nats are giving him a major league contract as they did with Finnegan, who made the roster on Opening Day and impressed as part of the 2020 bullpen.
Clay was part of the Twins’ 60-man player pool in 2020, but didn’t get called up to the big leagues.
In 2019, the Nationals noted in a press release on today’s signing, “Clay led all of Minor League Baseball in groundball rate (71.3%),” and, “went 4–4 with 10 saves,” on the year.
“Clay did not allow a home run in 2019 and has surrendered just one home run in 188.2 innings pitched (122 games) since the start of the 2017 season.
In 187 outings across six Minor League seasons, he has allowed just six home runs in 405.1 innings pitched.”
That would appear to meet the definition of an extreme ground ball pitcher.
Clay’s new club also noted that the 6’2’’ southpaw, “tossed more than [one] inning in 28 of the 45 appearances and at least two innings in 17 of the 45,” in 2019, and he, “... posted a 2.11 ERA (9 ER/38.1 IP) and a .220 opponents’ batting average in his outings of at least 2.0 innings.”
A ground ball-inducing left-hander who can give Davey Martinez multiple innings out of the bullpen?
What do you think of the Nationals’ latest signing of the winter, after the gave Josh Harrison a one-year deal earlier this winter, and signed Yasmany Tomás to a minor league deal which included an invite to Spring Training yesterday?