Mets acquire closer Tyler Clippard from Athletics
NEW YORK (AP) The active New York Mets acquired first-rate reliever Tyler Clippard from Oakland for a minor league pitcher Monday, completing their second trade in four days and sending another signal they're serious about contending this year.
The suddenly aggressive Mets shipped Casey Meisner to the Athletics in a swap of right-handers that increases New York's payroll by a little more than $2 million.
The 30-year-old Clippard, eligible for free agency after this season, is 1-3 with a 2.79 ERA and 17 saves in 21 chances. The Athletics obtained him from Washington in January.
Oakland also traded starting pitcher Scott Kazmir to Houston last Thursday.
''The fact of the matter is we are in last place, and so it would probably behoove us to get return on players who are going to be free agents,'' general manager Billy Beane said on a conference call. ''I would assume that a lot of people agree with that approach.''
A two-time All-Star, Clippard joins closer Jeurys Familia and gives the Mets an imposing 1-2 punch in the late innings to support their talented rotation.
With former closers Bobby Parnell and Jenrry Mejia also back in the bullpen, manager Terry Collins now has a number of proven relief options - which should take some pressure off the New York starters who have carried the club all season.
After six straight losing seasons and years of rebuilding, the Mets are finally in position to make a playoff run thanks to their stingy pitching staff. The team trails first-place Washington by two games in the NL East and entered Monday 3 1/2 behind San Francisco for the league's second wild card.
Starved for offense and seeking their first postseason berth since 2006, the Mets added third baseman Juan Uribe and utilityman Kelly Johnson on Friday night in a deal with Atlanta for two minor league pitchers.
New York's payroll has gone up by about $4.46 million with the two deals.
Uribe was owed $2,557,377 of his $6.5 million salary at the time of Friday night's trade and Johnson was due $590,164 of his $1.5 million salary. Atlanta agreed to send the Mets $814,754 as part of that trade.
New York could still use another bat, preferably a right-handed power hitter. Detroit's Yoenis Cespedes, San Diego's Justin Upton and Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez are among the potentially available sluggers who would fit the bill.
Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline is Friday.
With lefty specialist Jerry Blevins out since April with a broken forearm, Clippard's dominant numbers against left-handed hitters could be a major boost to the Mets.
Clippard's outstanding changeup has helped him hold left-handed batters to a .100 average this season (7 for 70) and a .183 mark throughout his nine-year career with the Yankees, Nationals and Athletics. Right-handed hitters have managed only .197, for that matter.
Clippard, who led the majors with 40 holds last year, is the lone pitcher to appear in at least 70 games in each of the past five seasons (2010-2014).
When he reports Tuesday, there will be $3,129,508 remaining from his $8.3 million salary. Oakland will pay the Mets $1 million as part of the trade.
The 6-foot-7 Meisner, 20, was a third-round draft pick in 2013. He is 10-4 with a 2.35 ERA in 18 starts for Class A Savannah and St. Lucie this season.
''A guy that we think is going to be a starter all the way through, and a guy that we liked out of the draft,'' Beane said. ''One of our focuses here, even as it relates to the Kazmir deal and on this deal, was really focusing on some guys that maybe are a little farther away, but maybe had a little bit more upside, which is not necessarily how we've approached things maybe in the more recent past. He's 92-94 (mph) with his fastball and still room for growth.''
Beane said it was the first deal he's ever made with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, his former boss in Oakland.
Meisner is expected to report to Class A Stockton in the California League.
NOTES: Mets C Travis d'Arnaud (elbow) had a single in three at-bats and caught seven innings for Double-A Binghamton in his third rehab game. ... To open a spot for Clippard on the 40-man roster, the Mets transferred right-handed reliever Erik Goeddel to the 60-day disabled list.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.