The Washington Nationals have come to an agreement with free agent left-hander Tony Sipp on a one-year contract worth $1 million. The deal also includes a mutual option with a $250k buyout.
While Sipp isn’t quite the reliever that Nationals fans were hoping for, he can’t be discounted. The 35-year-old posted an outstanding 1.86 ERA over 38.2 innings pitched with the Astros last season. His peripherals were rather solid as well. Sipp recorded a 2.41 FIP, 1.034 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, and 0.2 HR/9 — which is the only area, in which, I expect regression moving forward with the left-hander.
Sipp’s HR/FB ratio of 2.6 percent should be expected to increase with the Nationals, probably closer to his 12 percent career ratio, representing a 10.6 percent increase. Sipp is typically used as a lefty specialist, but has never shown any obvious splits and may be viewed by the Nationals as a set-up option. With this in mind, I would imagine that he pitches about 40 innings this season (health permitting). Using his figures from last season, the projection would be for Sipp to allow 39.31 fly balls. This would put him at 4.72 home runs allowed up from one. Over 40 innings, those additional 3.72 runs, while adjusting earned runs, would cause his ERA to rise to 2.70.
While I can understand the ire of Nationals’ fans, as they were hoping to sign prolific reliever Craig Kimbrel, keep in mind that this move saves them money that can be used next offseason to potentially re-sign soon-to-be free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. It also saves the Nationals a draft pick, which is important as their system is lacking, behind Victor Robles, Carter Kieboom, and Luis Garcia.
This offseason the Nationals agreed to a one-year, $7 million deal with former St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Trevor Rosenthal and acquired Kyle Barraclough from the Miami Marlins to deepen their bullpen and set-up closer Sean Doolittle.