Are The Nationals Actively “Selling” Tyler Clippard?

The Washington Nationals are in an unusual position this July to be both buyers and sellers as the MLB trade deadline approaches.

The team, unquestionably, has a very bright future and could quite seriously compete for a playoff spot as early as next year. Their current 47-48 record is promising but the odds are still stacked against them genuinely competing for the wildcard this season, especially when you consider that they are already nine games back and will be losing Jordan Zimmermann in late August/early September.

On the other hand, the club has talent with significant value that can be used as bargaining chips to help in 2012 and beyond. But by trading that talent Washington would be essentially waiving the white flag for the 2011 campaign. It’s unclear as of yet whether that is something Washington will do.

According to three of the more reliable sources in baseball, MLB.com’s Peter Gammons, Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, and ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Nationals are willing to deal middle reliever Tyler Clippard for the right price this July. In fact, Gammons goes as far to say that the team is selling Clippard, however Rosenthal cautions that Washington is asking for a great deal in return.

When you think of how incredibly valuable the middle reliever has been for Washington over the past two seasons, it might seem surprising that the team would be willing to deal him just one season before they plan to make a push for the playoffs. After all, it’s Clippard who constantly seems to put out any fires that other pitchers may ignite, and it’s Clippard who pitches in nearly half of the team’s games. He’s been a staple

The fact is, however, that despite Clippard’s great value to the Nationals, his value to a team that is currently in a pennant race is much higher. Middle relievers that can get right-handers and left-handers out effectively are hard to come by  and Clippard is one of the best in the business. While he may play a role in years to come for Washington’s playoff pushes, he could play an even larger and more valuable one for a team attempting to win a World Series this year.

The question that will remain is how much can they get in return for him. His stock is high as he was selected as the Nationals’ All-Star this season. On top of that, several of the team’s in competition, such as the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers, are desperate for bullpen help. Mike Rizzo has always been a stickler on his trades, and he wont move talent unless he gets what he wants in return, so  I wouldn’t expect Clippard to go for anything less than what Matt Capps went for last season.