Nats make Clippard deal official
Team adds rotation depth by acquiring Yankees prospect
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nationals made it official on Wednesday evening, formally acquiring right-hander Tyler Clippard from the Yankees for reliever Jonathan Albaladejo.
Clippard, 22, made his Major League debut with the Yankees in 2007 and went 3-1 with a 6.33 ERA in six starts. His first big league game came against the Mets on May 20, when he gave up one run in six innings.
Nationals general manager Jim Bowden announced that Clippard, who has two options left, will compete for a spot on the rotation.
"I'm excited, man," Clippard said by phone. "I went to D.C. for the physical. We have a core of young guys and it looks like a good group of guys."
The Nationals and Yankees agreed in principle on a trade Monday night. Before the deal became official, the Nationals wanted Clippard to take a physical. He was on the fast track to the big leagues in 2005 and '06, but took a step back last season. The team noticed that he has some mechanical issues and wanted to make sure that Clippard was not injured. He passed the physical and the team now feels that pitching coach Randy St. Claire can fix the right-hander's problems.
"I have tremendous respect for Randy St. Claire for what he has done with young pitchers, especially in terms of mechanics," Bowden said. "He has improved so many pitchers since I've been here. It's amazing to me the job that Randy has done. This is the perfect pitcher for Randy St. Claire to work with. I look forward to Spring Training with Randy working with him."
Clippard acknowledged that he changed his pitching style once he arrived in the big leagues.
"I struggled finding my release point," Clippard said. "This offseason I'm working hard, and things will fall into place."
Albaladejo also made his Major League debut this past season, giving up three runs in 14 1/3 innings out of the bullpen.
Albaladejo started his professional career with the Pirates, but after inconsistent work during most of his six years, Albaladejo was released during Spring Training. Nationals farm director Bobby Williams gave him another chance, and Albaladejo thrived in his new surroundings, giving up a combined 20 runs in 60 2/3 innings for Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Columbus.
Before the trade, the Nationals projected Albaladejo in the big leagues as a middle reliever.
"This was a case of a reliever that we like a lot," Bowden said. "He was going to fit in our plans next year. He was very impressive in what he did in September, but that is an area of strength with our club.
"With [Chad] Cordero, [Luis] Ayala, [Jon] Rauch, [Saul] Rivera and [Chris] Schroder, we felt we had depth there. So [we had to deal from that depth] in order to trade for a young 22-year old starting pitcher. The deal made sense for us."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.