Matt Clement signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason hoping to get his injury-plagued major league career back on track. The deal was not guaranteed and his chances of cracking the rotation were slim at best, but the 34-yr old righty had been successful in the past and seemed like a solid low-risk signing with the potential for high reward. Though the right shoulder which had been bothersome since 2006 felt better this spring, Clement did not show JP Ricciardi and the Blue Jay brass enough to merit a spot on the pitching staff. After pondering over whether or not to accept an assignment to AAA, Clement instead decided to hang up his cleats after nine seasons.
After three seasons with the Padres and a lone year with the Marlins, Clement found himself shipped to the Cubs for prospect Dontrelle Willis. Our win values for pitchers begin in that 2002 season which happens to be when Clement came into his own. Over the next four seasons, three of which were spent on the Cubs with the other coming as a member of the Red Sox, Clement ranged from 181-205 innings pitched, posted FIPs between 3.34 and 4.14, and averaged +3.6 wins/yr.
In 2006, he was limited to just 12 starts due to the issues with his right shoulder, and he has not pitched in the major leagues since then. Clement spent the entire 2007 season recovering before signing a minor league deal with the Cardinals last year. Things did not necessarily go as planned as he could not pitch effectively enough to merit a callup. After fighting hard to get back to the point where he could pitch comfortably, Ricciardi remarked that Clement just seemed tired of fighting, thus providing insight into the decision to retire.
Clement, virtually the posterchild for the phrase “wildly effective,” missed plenty of bats, kept the majority of his balls in play on the ground, but definitely struggled with control, finishing his career with a 7.8 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, and 4.24 FIP. Pitching is a very unnatural bodily action and injuries are bound to surface all the time, which makes the Maddux’s of the world look like freaks not just based on performance but rather durability. Matt Clement had a very solid four-year span from 2002-05 and while I’m sure many of us were rooting for him to get another chance, it just was not in the cards. If he changes his mind, though, Marcel sees Clement capable of a 4.61 FIP in 60 innings.