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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Redleg Nation: Can we just trade Aroldis Chapman already?

You can’t spell Aroldis without Rid Also.

Assuming you are a non-believer and recognize the Myth of the Closer, Chapman is the one pitcher of value the Reds can move who will bring the most while affecting the team’s fortunes in 2014 least. Another year closing out games—even if the front office holds good on it’s stated desire to utilize a more high-leverage Chapman—isn’t a difference maker in my opinion. The Reds simply have more pressing needs at this juncture. What Chapman can bring back is anybody’s guess. But what we do know is that much of Baseball continues to adore their closers. GMs hold them close. Managers view them as their personal security blankets. The Mariners are “all in” and could use a closer to nail down those leads Robinson Cano gives them. The Yankees might love to replace a retired legend with a ninth inning lightshow worthy of Bright Lights, Big City.

Jonathan Papelbon is the highest profile closer out there as the Winter Meetings gear up. Although the Phillies would like to move him, his contract makes that difficult. Free agents Edward Mujica and Francisco Rodriguez are out there, too, but neither inspire. Joaquin Benoit and Grant Balfour are both 36 years old. Fernando Rodney is 37 years old and widely regarded as unreliable.

The Reds can exploit one of the great inefficiencies remaining in Baseball. They can let someone else overvalue the last three outs of the game. And in doing so, they can mitigate the loss of Choo. Or they can fill the void at second base should they succeed in divesting themselves of Phillips. Perhaps even grab a coveted MLB-ready prospect to replenish the minors and stay young. Not to mention, they can let the rest of their already expensive bullpen earn their keep.

The Closer has become this revolving door. You see it each year. The Pirates lose Joel Hanrahan—then along comes Jason Grilli. Daniel Bard had the Red Sox thinking they were set for years—now it’s Koji Uehara’s turn to be the ninth inning Batman. I remember when Brian Wilson was the guy by the Bay—Sergio Romo did okay, right Reds fans?

Trade Chapman? The Reds can do this. The Chapman Experiment is over. The Reds know this.

Don’t they?

Repoz Posted: December 10, 2013 at 05:48 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: reds, sabermetrics

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   1. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 10, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4614975)
Not all closers are created equal. I think guys like Chapman and Kimbrel would be harder to replace than the guys mentioned. Of course if you could get a 3+ WAR player/SP it would probably make sense to move him, unless you plan on trying him as a starter.
   2. Bitter Mouse Posted: December 10, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4614985)
unless you plan on trying him as a starter


Is this idea - him starting - totally dead? Should it be?

In theory I hate "wasting" skill on closing, but on some level I guess I believe it if people suggest that is really his best place to succeed.
   3. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: December 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM (#4614990)
Chapman becoming a starter has officially been killed. Bryan Price has already said he's going to be the closer. Aroldis has said that he would much rather remain in the bullpen.

Now, should he be traded? If the Reds could get young, cheap players for him, sure. Otherwise, the Reds will most likely be taking on salary (Chapman is only making $3 million in 2014), and, Jocketty is making it sound like the Reds don't have much room for that (giving Jon Broxton $7 million in 2014, and $9 million in 2015 was really a move of genius, huh?).
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: December 10, 2013 at 11:33 AM (#4614996)
Not all closers are created equal. I think guys like Chapman and Kimbrel would be harder to replace than the guys mentioned.


I don't think Chapman should be grouped with Kimbrel. Otherwise you have to include guys like Jansen and Holland.

If the other GM's put Chapman in the same tier as Kimbrel, a trade might make sense.
   5. Mickey Henry Mays Posted: December 10, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4615018)


I don't think Chapman should be grouped with Kimbrel. Otherwise you have to include guys like Jansen and Holland.

If the other GM's put Chapman in the same tier as Kimbrel, a trade might make sense.


Agree, Kimbrel is definitely the creme de la creme. He's been for the past two years especially, about as unhittable as anyone we've ever seen. I guess if we're talking about really unhittable, what Koji Uehara did during the 2nd half of this year was truly historic.
   6. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 10, 2013 at 12:04 PM (#4615024)
Chapman is a very good pitcher who happens to be in the closer role. He ain't Jim Johnson or Joe Borowski. THOSE are the guys you trade to cash in on their "closer" tag.

   7. Nasty Nate Posted: December 10, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4615036)
He ain't Jim Johnson or Joe Borowski. THOSE are the guys you trade to cash in on their "closer" tag.


Easier said than done - those guys have very little trade value.
   8. Squash Posted: December 10, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4615054)
This is why you don't start off a stud prospect as a closer. Once they get the taste it's incredibly hard to move them anywhere else. If you want your guy to get his feet wet with big league innings, make him a long man Johan-Santana style.
   9. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 10, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4615055)
This is why you don't start off a stud prospect as a closer. Once they get the taste it's incredibly hard to move them anywhere else.

This. This. 1000X this.
   10. deputydrew Posted: December 10, 2013 at 01:16 PM (#4615097)
I don't think Chapman should be grouped with Kimbrel. Otherwise you have to include guys like Jansen...


I group Chapman with Kimbrel and Jansen. At least they all sit together in the bullpen during the early innings of my Strat-O-Matic team's games.
   11. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 10, 2013 at 03:38 PM (#4615312)
He ain't Jim Johnson or Joe Borowski. THOSE are the guys you trade to cash in on their "closer" tag.


Easier said than done - those guys have very little trade value.

Yes I thought trading Jemile Weeks for Johnson was a crappy trade for the A's just because now they have a $10M reliever in a $80M budget that has no room for Brett Anderson.
   12. Zach Posted: December 11, 2013 at 01:33 AM (#4615713)
I'd love to take the other end of that trade. Prospects are prospects. Chapman has amazing, legendary stuff. The point of trading is to get the guys with amazing, legendary stuff on your team.
   13. Jim Kaat on a hot Gene Roof Posted: December 11, 2013 at 01:46 AM (#4615715)
This is why you don't start off a stud prospect as a closer. Once they get the taste it's incredibly hard to move them anywhere else.


Seems like it, yeah. It'd be interesting to know how much of that resistance is structural in the general and vague sense (front office, agents, fans' expectations, etc) and how much is structural in the more particular sense (manager and pitching coach) and how much a player's wishes are weighed in the calculus. It seems like Chapman has expressed interest in starting, but not following the Reds much I dunno for sure. For my team, the gist I get from the St Louis media is that Rosenthal is determined to start someday and will keep asking for the opportunity even though as of right now he's being denied (and probably will continue to be until the Cardinals figure out what Motte brings back to the team after TJ).
   14. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 11, 2013 at 02:01 AM (#4615717)
This is why you don't start off a stud prospect as a closer. Once they get the taste it's incredibly hard to move them anywhere else

Adam Wainwright did OK. Smoltz went back to starting. Jose Rijo did fine, although he was a mere setup man. Derek Lowe went back and forth. Justin Duchscherer finally stayed healthy an entire season as a reliever and then wanted to become a starter, and promptly got hurt. It depends on the individual.
   15. PreservedFish Posted: December 11, 2013 at 02:19 AM (#4615722)
I think I would rather be a starter. You only have 30 days where you know you'll really be required to work. That's really nice - not the amount of work, but the fact that you know when you'll be working. You don't need to spend the games in the bullpen - it seems like people go insane out there.

It seems to me that most players prefer starting.

It'd be interesting to know how much of that resistance is structural in the general and vague sense (front office, agents, fans' expectations, etc) and how much is structural in the more particular sense (manager and pitching coach) and how much a player's wishes are weighed in the calculus.

To me it seems more like it's more often the first two keeping young pitchers in the bullpen.
   16. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: December 11, 2013 at 03:06 AM (#4615728)
Smoltz went back to starting.


Smoltz no more started his career closing than he did playing Qudditch.

I think what you need to do is prepare your pitcher for the probability he's going to end up in the rotation eventually. If you let him start thinking of himself as Mariano Rivera, it'll be harder to move him off CL.
   17. Russ Posted: December 11, 2013 at 07:33 AM (#4615745)
I think I would rather be a starter. You only have 30 days where you know you'll really be required to work. That's really nice - not the amount of work, but the fact that you know when you'll be working. You don't need to spend the games in the bullpen - it seems like people go insane out there.


I've never pitched before, but the downtime would drive me crazy. I can see the attraction for some players of showing up to the ballpark thinking that you're going to be used.
   18. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 11, 2013 at 09:21 AM (#4615766)
This is why you don't start off a stud prospect as a closer. Once they get the taste it's incredibly hard to move them anywhere else.


It's not that hard.

Cardinals -- Wainwright
White Sox -- Sale
Mariners -- Morrow
Rangers -- CJ Wilson

Those guys all had a taste of closing when they broke in (Wilson had multiple tastes... and maybe he wasn't a stud prospect, come to think of it) but moved to the rotation just fine. Chapman will start his 5th year in the bigs next year having started 0 games and having been a full time closer for years; he's had more than a taste. The Reds' problem isn't that they ever let him close; it's that if they were gonna change, they probably should have done it by now.
   19. Nasty Nate Posted: December 11, 2013 at 10:10 AM (#4615781)

I'd love to take the other end of that trade. Prospects are prospects. Chapman has amazing, legendary stuff. The point of trading is to get the guys with amazing, legendary stuff on your team.


The trade return doesn't have to be prospects. And legendary stuff isn't that valuable if the effectiveness isn't also legendary and it's only there for 60 innings in a year.
   20. TDF, situational idiot Posted: December 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4615824)
And legendary stuff isn't that valuable if the effectiveness isn't also legendary
I think that's a bit harsh.

Now I admit that Randy Johnson was a starter (and from Chapman's comments there's a near zero chance he'll ever start), but it still took him until he was 29 to become Randy Johnson. Also remember that through age 25 (Chapman's age) Mariano Rivera had one crappy partial year as a starter under his belt.

The trade return doesn't have to be prospects
That's the big thing. If the Reds traded him for prospects outside of the top 20, there should be riots in the streets. He may "only" be a reliever, but he's shown he's one of the best in baseball and he's still only 25 and under team control for 3 more years.
   21. Nasty Nate Posted: December 11, 2013 at 12:34 PM (#4615875)
That's the big thing. If the Reds traded him for prospects outside of the top 20, there should be riots in the streets. He may "only" be a reliever, but he's shown he's one of the best in baseball and he's still only 25 and under team control for 3 more years.


They have him for 3 years at a total of $15-25 million I think (not sure of the nuances of his contract). If some team would give him 3 years with a conservative total of $42 million this offseason if he had been a free agent, that is $17-$27 million of hypothetical surplus value. It's easier said than done to actually acquire that trade value, but I can see how it would make sense to explore the options.

It's almost certainly not going to happen, so this is purely theoretical.
   22. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 11, 2013 at 12:38 PM (#4615878)
They have him for 3 years at a total of $15-25 million I think (not sure of the nuances of his contract). If some team would give him 3 years with a conservative total of $42 million this offseason if he had been a free agent, that is $17-$27 million of hypothetical surplus value. It's easier said than done to actually acquire that trade value, but I can see how it would make sense to explore the options.

If he's a reliever, how is he worth more than $25M?
   23. Nasty Nate Posted: December 11, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4615887)
If he's a reliever, how is he worth more than $25M?


I'm not sure what you are asking. The top closers make more than $25m over 3 years.
   24. TDF, situational idiot Posted: December 11, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4615896)
They have him for 3 years at a total of $15-25 million I think (not sure of the nuances of his contract)
That's why God created Cot's:

Aroldis Chapman lhp
6 years/$30.25M (2010-15)

*signed by Cincinnati as an amateur free agent 1/11/10
*$16.25M signing bonus ($1.5M at signing; $1.5M each Nov. 1, 2010-13; $1.25M each Nov. 1, 2014-20)
*10:$1M, 11:$1M, 12:$2M, 13:$2M, 14:$3M, 15:$5M player option
*Chapman must decide whether to accept or decline 2015 player option within 5 days after end of 2014 World Series
*if Chapman qualifies for arbitration after 2012, $5M is converted to a bonus and he becomes arbitration-eligible
*if Chapman qualifies for arbitration after 2013, $3M is converted to a bonus and he becomes arbitration-eligible


So, they owe him a $3M bonus for next year, plus he has 3 arb years ('14-'16) plus $8.75M in remaining signing bonus.
   25. Nasty Nate Posted: December 11, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4615904)
That's why God created Cot's:

I looked at BBRef, which had 2014 at $3m and 2015 as a $5m player option.

So, they owe him a $3M bonus for next year, plus he has 3 arb years ('14-'16) plus $8.75M in remaining signing bonus.

So if we include the bonuses, he has much less trade value than I was thinking.
   26. TDF, situational idiot Posted: December 11, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4615915)
So if we include the bonuses, he was much less trade value than I was thinking.
I guess you could look at Papelbon.

Papelbon got $6.25M/9.35M/12M. Chapman has put up similar numbers, and just like everything else the price of ball players has gone up. It looks like you're going to pay about $40M for 3 years of Chapman (assuming he stays this good).

   27. deputydrew Posted: December 11, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4616028)
One thing to also consider is the increased impact a star reliever can have in the playoffs. A good manager can and should leverage his top reliever so they have more effect in the playoffs than during the regular season. Torre was great at doing that with Rivera. Have other managers done so? What's the usage pattern for Kimbrel, or Chapman over the last few playoff seasons? What about lesser, but still quality, relievers like Sergio Romo, or Papelbon during his Sox days? Brad Lidge?

Essentially, your shutdown reliever may only be your tenth most valuable player from April to September, but he could be your sixth most valuable in October. If the goal is to win the World Series, that's something the Reds should include in their calculus.
   28. Baldrick Posted: December 11, 2013 at 03:41 PM (#4616085)
Cardinals -- Wainwright
White Sox -- Sale
Mariners -- Morrow
Rangers -- CJ Wilson

Wainwright saved 3 games in one year as a reliever. A third of his appearances lasted more than one inning. Not a closer, one very prominent postseason role notwithstanding.

Sale saved 12 games over two years as a reliever. Half his appearances were for more than one inning. And it was always VERY clear he was going to the rotation once he got a little older. Not a closer - just a young reliever that was asked to close out a few games.

Morrow, maybe is analagous. He saved 10 games in a little over a month one year when Putz was hurt, which is somewhat similar to Chapman taking over the closing job in May of 2012 out of necessity. But still, after that quick month he was sent back to AAA to return to being a starting pitcher. And he came back up to the majors a month later and started a batch of games in September. But I don't think he was treated as 'the closer' in the same way that Chapman very quickly was. He was just a stopgap.

Wilson, sure.
   29. Der-K, the bloodied charmer Posted: December 11, 2013 at 03:49 PM (#4616096)
And it was always VERY clear he was going to the rotation once he got a little older.

I don't agree with this - that he would start was a matter of some debate at the time, due to his build. That said, I don't mean to detract from your point.
   30. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 12, 2013 at 07:54 AM (#4616485)
Wainwright saved 3 games in one year as a reliever. A third of his appearances lasted more than one inning. Not a closer, one very prominent postseason role notwithstanding.

Sale saved 12 games over two years as a reliever. Half his appearances were for more than one inning. And it was always VERY clear he was going to the rotation once he got a little older. Not a closer - just a young reliever that was asked to close out a few games.

Morrow, maybe is analagous. He saved 10 games in a little over a month one year when Putz was hurt, which is somewhat similar to Chapman taking over the closing job in May of 2012 out of necessity. But still, after that quick month he was sent back to AAA to return to being a starting pitcher. And he came back up to the majors a month later and started a batch of games in September. But I don't think he was treated as 'the closer' in the same way that Chapman very quickly was. He was just a stopgap.

Wilson, sure.


Did you read the post I was responding to? It wasn't a list of established closers. It was a list of "stud prospects" breaking in with a "taste" of closing. All these guys got their feet wet at the back end of the bullpen and then transitioned to starter fairly easily.

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