Nationals, Yankees Swap Young Arms

The Deal
The busy Nationals made their third trade in the last week, sending righthanded minor league reliever Jonathan Albaladejo to the Yankees for righthander Tyler Clippard. Obviously, this deal lacks the ramifications or intrigue of earlier deals for Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes.

The Big Leaguer
Neither Clippard nor Albaladejo has pitched more than 50 big league innings.

The Prospects
Clippard, 23, went 3-1, 6.33 in six emergency starts for the Yankees in 2007, and has consistently posted good minor league numbers. He’s more comfortable pitching backward, though, as his fastball tops out at 90 mph and sits in the 86-88 range. He led the Double-A Eastern League with 175 strikeouts in 2006—a testament to the above-average quality of his curveball and changeup. He also led the high Class A Florida State League with 169 punchouts in 2005. The Yankees made Clippard a ninth-round pick in 2003 from a Florida high school. He’s gone 41-38, 3.52 with 640-173 K-BB in 609 minor league innings.

Albaladejo, 25, also made his big league debut in 2007, giving up three runs in 14 1/3 innings for the Nationals. He struck out 12 and walked just two. A 19th-round pick of the Pirates in 2001, Albaladejo went 7-3, 2.97 with 56-22 K-BB in 61 innings split between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Columbus this season. He joined the Nationals in May 2007 after the Pirates released him. Albaladejo, who was born in Puerto Rico but was drafted out of Miami-Dade North CC, worked as a starter in his first four pro seasons, but converted to relief in 2005. He’s posted a strong 175-51 K-BB mark in 187 innings since the conversion, throwing his low-90s fastball for strikes and mixing in two breaking balls and a changeup.

Quick Take
The Nationals added rotation depth and the Yankees a bullpen option. Neither player has a particularly high ceiling, but both could contribute in 2008.

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