With the Yankees signing Andrew Miller on Friday afternoon, the market for late inning setup options has quickly picked up. Sergio Romo and Luke Gregerson are among the veteran free agent setup men, but according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard will likely be traded this offseason and can help a team looking to upgrade the back of the bullpen.
Washington has a significant amount of right-handed relief options, and Clippard is expected to make $8 or $9 million in his last year of arbitration. In addition to having other relief options, which include Aaron Barrett, Craig Stammen, Blake Treinen, and Taylor Hill, the Nationals likely feel that Clippard is getting too costly. Although Miller was signed to a four-year, $36 million contract and Clippard has had comparable success, the Nationals' depth would make losing a consistent reliever such as Clippard manageable.
Clippard, 29, posted a 2.18 ERA and 2.75 FIP in 70.1 innings pitched in 2014. He also posted a 10.49 K/9 last season, the second highest of his career, and his 1.5 WAR was a career high. He has made at least 70 appearances in each of the last five seasons, and saved 32 games in 2012 while Drew Storen was out with an elbow injury.
Even with Clippard, Rafael Soriano, and Storen already in their bullpen, the Nationals still chose to pursue Grant Balfour last offseason. But with young arms looming, Washington likely won't be adding major pieces to its bullpen this offseason.
The Dodgers, Blue Jays, and White Sox are all teams that are seeking help in the back of their respective bullpens, Rosenthal notes, and Miller's contract can either lower or elevate the price of free agent relievers and setup men who are available through a trade.
Although there is no current favorite, the Dodgers can emerge as the frontrunner to acquire Clippard. The club didn't want to make Miller a four-year offer, is not interested in Brian Wilson, and wants to build around closer Kenley Jansen, who will earn $8.2 million next season, according to MLB Trade Rumors. No deal is imminent, however Clippard should be the topic of conversation for several teams at some point during the Winter Meetings.