Cleveland Indians: Tyler Clippard to pitch for division rival Twins

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

With Francisco Lindor trade rumors generating so much noise, Tyler Clippard‘s new contract with the Twins flew somewhat under the radar.

While the Cleveland Indians find themselves in a stalemate with their potential trade partners, their enemies to the north just nabbed up a key contributor from the Tribe’s 2019 bullpen.

Tyler Clippard signed a one-year deal worth $2.75 million with the Twins on Friday. The Indians will now see his effective, low-velocity stuff coming across the plate from a different point of view.

Clippard was one of the Tribe’s most dependable relievers in 2019, posting his lowest ERA since 2014 and the lowest walk rate of his career, while minimizing big-time damage to the tune of a 9.4% home run rate on fly balls.

Despite all of this, it shouldn’t come as much of a shock that the Indians didn’t bring him back. And considering some of the negative story lines swirling around over Cleveland at the moment, Clippard’s now-official departure will barely even register on the disappointment seismograph.

It’s not quite clear what the Indians’ plan is for their 2020 bullpen following the exits of Nick Goody and now Clippard, but the latter will be 35 in February and the Tribe should have younger, higher-upside options available in James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase at some point next season. Logan Allen and Jefry Rodriguez could factor in as bullpen experiments too, considering the uphill battle both would be fighting to get into the starting rotation unless injury dictates otherwise.

Regarding Clippard’s new home, the Twins quietly posted the best bullpen FIP (3.92) of any team in the league in 2019 despite a 4.17 ERA that ranked 10th. Minnesota’s relief corps trailed only the Rays and Yankees in collective fWAR at 7.3. Clippard gives them another dependable guy to turn to late in games as they load up for another run at the AL Central crown.

The bigger takeaway here than the Indians losing a valuable reliever from last year is that the Twins are once again being proactive in acquiring players that can help them win, while the Indians have yet to do any such thing.

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With the Francisco Lindor trade saga evidently nearing its endgame, the baseball world will soon know whether the Indians plan to do it at all for 2020.