The Nationals have signed veteran left-handed reliever Tony Sipp to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million guaranteed with a mutual option for 2020, according to reports from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, and The Washington Post’s Jesse Dougherty. The option will pay him $2.5 million if picked up and a $250,000 buyout if declined:
Tony Sipp in agreement with Nats— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 13, 2019
Sipp, 35, certainly must’ve expected that he’d get a more substantial deal this offseason after a career year in 2018, during which he posted a 1.86 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 42 strikeouts and 13 walks over 38.2 innings. But obviously that was a relatively small sample size, and though Sipp spent just eight days on the disabled list and faced virtually the same number of lefty and righty hitters (.191/.263/.294 line in 76 plate appearances against lefties, .209/.280/.328 in 75 PAs against righties), he clearly wasn’t a guy who frequently came in and threw full innings.
And though he had a similarly effective season in 2015, MLB teams surely looked at his career numbers (3.67 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, and 4.0 BB/9) over 10 seasons and determined that he wasn’t too likely to repeat his 2018 sucess in future seasons. Even so, it would’ve been fair to assume that Sipp — one of the best relief pitchers in the majors last year — deserved at least a couple million, but in a free-agent market that is extremely unfavorable to players over 30 and relies heavily on future projections, the veteran lefty wasn’t able to secure that type of deal.
Sipp becomes another reliable presence in an overhauled Nationals bullpen that also added Trevor Rosenthal and Kyle Barraclough over the offseason and returns two-time All-Star closer Sean Doolittle. With Matt Grace coming off a strong 2018 season, Washington could have a trio of intriguing lefties — Doolittle, Sipp, and Grace — in their ‘pen, and Wander Suero and Justin Miller are among the options who should be able to help cover innings from the right side.