The 2015 World Series featured several former Yankees: Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson, Mets infielder Kelly Johnson and Mets pitchers Bartolo Colon and Tyler Clippard.
For the most part, New York can’t beat itself up much for letting these guys skip town. Eiland left of his own volition, Johnson and Colon were replacement-level players, and Granderson signed a dangerously expensive contract to play in Queens. The last player in that group, however, represents one of worst trades on Brian Cashman’s mostly impressive resume.
On December 5, 2007, the Yankees traded Clippard to the Washington Nationals for fellow right-handed pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo. The trade made some sense at the time — Clippard was only 22 years old but had just posted a 6.33 ERA and 6.68 FIP in 27 innings over six starts in his debut season. Albaladejo, on the other hand, was already 25 but had pitched well out of the bullpen in a brief stint for Washington. For a franchise in win-now mode, Albaladejo seemed to offer more immediate gratification.
“He’s a big, strong, imposing guy. Six-foot-5,” Cashman said of Albaladejo at the time. “If he replicates what he did last season, then he will be an interesting character for us.”
The deal did not go well.
Albaladejo pitched 59.1 innings for the Yankees over three seasons, earning a 4.70 ERA and 5.21 FIP. After playing most of the 2010 season in Triple-A, he asked for his release so he could pursue a career in Japan. Clippard spent all most all of 2008 in the minor leagues but emerged the following season as a steady middle reliever. In 2011, with Albaladejo pitching for the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo, Clippard reached his first All-Star Game. He remained a key cog in the Nationals’ bullpen in the ensuing years and was selected to another Summer Classic in 2014.
Clippard was traded to the Athletics before the start of this season, then redirected to the Mets at the Trade Deadline. Granted, he posted a modest 3.06 ERA in August after joining his new team and allowed five runs in 6 2/3 innings in the playoffs, including two high-leverage walks in World Series Game 4. Still, Jonathan Albaladejo pitched to a 4.91 ERA this season for the Diablos Rojos del Mexico.
Since being traded for each other in December 2007, here are the two pitchers’ Major-League WARP totals.
So where does Clippard-for-Albaladejo rank on the list of worst trades of the Cashman era?
Well, giving up Mike Lowell for essentially nothing in 1999 was clearly Cashman’s worst trade, but after that the field is wide open. The candidates for second-worst trade of the Cashman era:
- The Clippard deal
- In 2004 the Yankees gave up Jose Contreras for Esteban Loaiza. Contreras had several nice seasons in Chicago while Loaiza lasted half of one unimpressive campaign in the Bronx.
- In 2009 the Yankees gave up Melky Cabrera, Arodys Vizcaino and Mike Dunn for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan. The latter three players have combined for 13.4 WARP since then, while the former pair has totaled 3.9, with Vazquez now out of baseball.
Of course, every team makes the occasional bad trade, and none of these mishaps were franchise-crippling disasters. In fact, it’s quite impressive that in Cashman’s nearly two decades as Yankees’ general manager, Clippard-for-Albaladejo is among the worst trades we have to complain about.
Still, it must have stung Cashman just a bit to see Clippard on the World Series mound pitching for a crosstown rival and to know the Yankees could have held onto him if only they hadn’t preferred Jonathan Albaladejo.
(Photo: Anthony Gruppuso-USA Today Sports)