The Oakland A's announced Monday that they had traded reliever Tyler Clippard to the New York Mets for right-handed pitching prospect Casey Meisner. Clippard joins a Mets team currently two games out of first place in the NL East. Clippard is the second impending free agent traded by Oakland in the past few days. Scott Kazmir was dealt to the Houston Astros last Thursday. The A's also sent cash to the Mets to help cover some of the remainder of Clippard's salary (Ken Davidoff reports that the A's are sending the Mets $1 million).
Acquired from the Washington Nationals this off-season for SS Yunel Escobar, Clippard had a 2.79 ERA and 17 saves for the A's. He had a mediocre K:BB, however, walking 21 and striking out 38 in 38.2 innings. Clippard had blown his last two save opportunities for Oakland. He returns to the NL East, where he had considerable success with the Nationals from 2008-2014, posting a 2.68 ERA for the Nats. He will now be attempting to take the division from his old team.
Meisner is a 20-year-old right-hander from Texas who was the Mets' third-round pick in 2013 out of Cypress Woods HS. He had split his season between the Mets' two full-season A-ball clubs, posting a 2.35 ERA in 111 innings. He has a tall, lanky frame at 6'7'', 190 and already throws in the 90-93 MPH range with a possibility of more velocity in the future as he matures physically. He has struck-out 89 in 111 innings and has walked 33. Meisner's change-up is his best secondary pitch and he is developing a breaking ball. He could be the third prospect acquired in a trade to join the High-A Stockton Ports in less than a week. Jacob Nottingham and Daniel Mengden joined the Ports last week.
Meisner, like many tall pitchers, has had to work on smoothing out his delivery as a pro and still has work to do in that regard. The A's have done well in the past developing pitchers built similarily to Meisner. Both Tyson Ross and Ryan Webb were tall, lanky right-handers who developed in the A's system and made an impact at the big-league level. At 20, Meisner has plenty of time to continue to develop. The A's didn't have a lot of minor-league starting pitching depth among their top prospects heading into last week, but the additions of Mengden and Meisner will strength that area of their system.
Baseball Prospectus' Senior Prospect Writer Christopher Crawford (@CVCrawfordBP on Twitter) likes the return the A's got for Clippard.
"I think there's a lot to like here, and he's a really impressive return for a closer I don't consider to be elite," Crawford said via email.
The A's aren't likely done dealing. Before Friday's non-waiver deadline, they are expected to trade impending free agent Ben Zobrist and could deal players with more than a year of control remaining, such as Josh Reddick. Oakland will need a new closer with Clippard now in New York. Given the A's struggles in the bullpen this season, there isn't a natural replacement for Clippard, but Oakland could consider Fernando Rodriguez, who has a 3.60 ERA and a 38:9 K:BB in 30 innings for the A's this season.