Over the course of the last nine seasons, Tyler Clippard has earned a reputation for being one of baseball’s most effective and reliable relief pitchers.
The majority of his career has been spent with the Washington Nationals, but he mixed in stints with the Oakland A’s, New York Mets and New York Yankees and has a career record of 42-29 to go along with a 2.889 ERA. He has also converted 53 saves and been one of the best setup men in all the land.
So, when he reached free agency this winter, he naturally figured there would be a long list of potential suitors looking to acquire his services.
Yet, the right-hander waited…and waited…and waited…until on Feb. 8 he signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks worth a reported $12.25 million.
“This experience this offseason was a very new one for me, being a free agent for the first time, going through that process,” Clippard told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “And you don’t really know ever how it’s going to play out, what to expect.
“You have something in the back of your mind that you hope it plays out in a certain way.”
Clippard, who turned 31 on Feb. 14, described the process as up-and-down, with instances where he thought it was going to play out as he had anticipated but for the most part all he could do was bide his time until the right offer came along.
“The offseason kind of drug out a little longer than I expected, as far as not having a home until two weeks prior to Spring Training, so that was kind of unexpected in that sense,” he said. “But the end result was a good one; I was very happy to sign the deal I signed, to sign with the Diamondbacks and be here in Arizona, be a part of a very young, dynamic team who made such progress in 2015 the whole baseball world took notice of what they did, taking a step toward becoming a championship-caliber club.”
Clippard added he thinks the team has what it needs to have a big season, but it is up to the players to make sure the potential is made good on.
In terms of how he will fit in with that, however, Clippard said he did not sign with Arizona because he was promised a specific role.
He did not need to be.
“I understand the importance of every role down there in the bullpen and I’ve done every role down there,” he said. “So with that in mind, I am a believer in being able to pitch in crucial situations –regardless of the inning –and they all matter.
“Sometimes the seventh and eighth can be more important than the ninth as far as how the lineup stacks up and how the game transpires and so on and so forth. So I understand the importance of all those innings, and my role is just whatever they need me to do, I’m going to do it.”