Can the KC Royals use this former World Series foe?

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) /

Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s continuing series analyzing how the free agent market could impact the KC Royals. Today we focus on Arizona’s free agents.

Think back to better times, in fact some of the best times, for the Royals. Allow your mind’s eye to recapture key moments of the 2015 World Series, especially the last two games in New York when Kansas City finished off the Mets to win its second Series title.

In three of those Fall Classic moments you’ll find Tyler Clippard, then a reliable reliever New York picked up for that season’s stretch run via a trade deadline deal with Oakland. He was good for the Mets, going 4-1 with two saves and a 3.06 ERA in 32 games. That he’d pitch in the postseason was a given.

Clippard appeared three times against Kansas City in the Series, sandwiching Game 1 strike outs of Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer between a leadoff eighth inning double to Ben Zobrist and a walk to Kendrys Morales before giving way to Jeurys Familia, who extricated the Mets from the jam. (The Royals eventually won in 14 innings).

Clippard was better in Game 3 when he contributed a scoreless inning in New York’s 9-3 win.

He wasn’t so lucky in Game 4. With his Mets leading 3-2, he replaced Addison Reed to begin the eighth and, after retiring Alcides Escobar, walked Zobrist and Cain. Manager Terry Collins pulled Clippard for Familia.

Familia, however, gave up three runs and the Royals won 5-3 to take a commanding 3-1 Series lead; because he put the eventual winning run on base, Clippard was charged with the loss, providing further evidence of the occasional inequities of one of baseball’s oddest rules.

Clippard became a free agent after the Series, signed with Arizona, and has since pitched for the Diamondbacks, Yankees, White Sox, Astros, Blue Jays, Cleveland, Minnesota, and Arizona again. He’s 14-19 with 21 saves since leaving the Mets, including 1-1 with six saves and a 3.20 ERA in 26 games for the Diamondbacks last season.

Clippard and Arizona held a mutual option for his 2022 services but, as our friends at FanSided’s Venom Strikes pointed out late in the season, both parties don’t often exercise such options, and the Diamondbacks declined their half in November. Now, he’s trapped as an unsigned free agent in the current MLB lockout-induced transaction freeze.

Is there any room for Tyler Clippard on next season’s KC Royals roster?

The middle of Kansas City’s bullpen needs help, but Clippard probably isn’t the reliever to provide it. It’s not that he might not be good—after all, he can still pitch and, per Baseball Savant, only his fast stuff, which he utilizes less than his changeup and breaking pitches collectively, has lost much velocity since 2015. And he’s been more than serviceable during his 15 major league seasons, as his 56-48, 3.13, 74-save record demonstrates.

But Clippard turns 37 in February, and the Royals probably aren’t looking for someone working in the back end of his career. And any chance Kansas City might pursue the veteran righthander were diminished Thursday when the club signed Arodys Vizcaíno, who won’t be 32 until after next season ends.

Related Story. Get to know KC's new pitcher. light

So, Kansas City probably won’t pursue Tyler Clippard. (The same goes for outfielder Josh Reddick, Arizona’s other remaining major league free agent who, at 34—35 in February—doesn’t fit the mold of the younger, speedier player the Royals need in right field).

KC's best pre-DH hitting pitchers. dark. Next

Tyler Clippard is still good, but the Royals should look elsewhere for bullpen help.