Aroldis Chapman Rumors

Central Links: Reds, Cubs, Avila, Tigers, Tomas, Butler

Reds GM Walt Jocketty is of the mindset that his team will need to either be “all in” or “all out” in 2015, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. In other words, if the Reds decide to trade one of four starters who is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season — Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon — others may very well follow. Sherman lists Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman as names to watch if Cincinnati does elect to go into a full rebuild. Both can be free agents after 2016, though the Reds have a club option on Bruce for the 2017 season.

Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…

  • Sherman also tweets that the Cubs aren’t likely to spend big on a closer this winter, which seemingly eliminates a potential suitor for David Robertson. Earlier today, reports indicated that Robertson is seeking a contract comparable to Jonathan Papelbon‘s four-year, $50MM contract.
  • The Tigers are willing to listen to offers on Alex Avila, tweets the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Avila has a $5.4MM club option for his final arb year and was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn the same amount in arbitration. Cafardo notes that the Braves and Red Sox are both looking for left-handed bats. While both have inexperienced catchers (Christian Bethancourt and Christian Vasquez, respectively), adding Avila would limit each team’s ability to get an extended look at how their young backstop handles a full workload.
  • John Manuel of Baseball America tweets that the Tigers‘ defense up the middle in 2015 could be special with Jose Iglesias and the newly acquired Anthony Gose. He also notes that Devon Travis, who went to the Blue Jays in the deal, now has a clear shot to Major League playing time that he may not have had in Detroit.
  • The Royals could scout Yasmany Tomas in the Dominican Republic next week, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Royals officials will be in the Dominican Republic on other business anyway and met with Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, earlier this week at the GM Meetings. The team’s payroll could surpass the $100MM mark for the first time next season, and there’s perhaps room for one significant expenditure such as Tomas, Ervin Santana or Melky Cabrera, McCullough writes.
  • Billy Butler is receiving interest from a number of clubs — even one National League club — tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The interest in Butler likely means that a return to the Royals isn’t the best fit, he adds. McCullough reported Tuesday that K.C. doesn’t seem inclined to go beyond two years to retain Butler.
  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wonders if the Brewers will consider trading a starting pitcher (Twitter link). The Brew Crew needs some payroll flexibility, and the Braves are one team that has been poking around at the GM Meetings.

Aroldis Chapman Changes Agents

Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has changed agents by moving to Relativity Baseball, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Chapman had been represented by Hendricks Sports.

For Chapman, 26, the move comes at an important time for the contractual side of his career. He earned $5MM this year after opting into arbitration. That will no doubt happen again next year, and Chapman will be in for a significant raise after racking up 36 saves over 54 innings. Though those totals were limited by his DL stint to the start the year, the remainder of Chapman’s numbers — a 2.00 ERA, an absurd 17.7 K/9 (against 4.0 BB/9), and an equally ridiculous 3.5 H/9 — will support a nice new payday.

And that’s only the starting point for the southpaw fireballer, who is currently set up to become a free agent after the 2016 season. While that is a long way off for a reliever, he already has a hefty earning base and will cost a pretty penny to buy out ahead of time. Craig Kimbrel signed a four-year, $42MM deal (including an option year) entering his first arb-eligible season.


Central Notes: Cardinals, Chapman, Moustakas

The Pirates and Cardinals faced off tonight on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, but the matchup meant something different for each team, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes. It was the first time ESPN had hosted the broadcast in Pittsburgh in 1996, and for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, appearing on the show demonstrates that the Pirates are relevant once again. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, though, doesn’t like playing on Sunday nights, especially given the travel headaches it causes when playing on the road. “I don’t think it’s taken into consideration at all that it makes it harder for us,” Matheny says. “You get in at four o’clock in the morning and … if they tell you that playing the next day that’s not going to affect you, I’d say they’re wrong.” Here are more notes from the Central divisions.

  • Reds closer Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance of the season on Sunday after missing the first six weeks after being struck in the face with a line drive in spring training, and he appears he hasn’t missed a beat. Chapman threw 15 fastballs of at least 100 MPH and topped out at 102 MPH while striking out three batters and collecting his first save against the Rockies.
  • The Royals are considering demoting infielder Mike Moustakas as they open roster space for a reliever, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. It’s been a disappointing season for Moustakas, who’s hitting just .147/.215/.321. The 2007 second-overall pick has struggled since a strong season in 2012 and has been below replacement level in 2014, even though he’s a skilled defensive third baseman.


Injury Notes: Tommy John Surgeries, Chapman, Davis

This year more than ever, it seems an enormous number of pitchers have suffered injuries that required Tommy John surgery. That includes big-leaguers like Matt Moore, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Patrick Corbin, A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker, along with potential first-round picks in Jeff Hoffman and Erick Fedde. But as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal notes, the prognosis for pitchers who have Tommy John surgeries is now very good, and teams are much more cautious about diagnosing significant problems than they used to be. MacPherson quotes a number of former big-league pitchers whose experiences would seem wildly out of place today. “Everybody kept thinking, ‘If I had surgery, it might be the end of my career, so I’m going to pitch until it blows, and then that’s the end of my career,’” says former Orioles, Red Sox, Royals and Brewers hurler Mike Boddicker, who pitched in the big leagues until 1993. “It used to be that you had some inflammation — tendinitis. That was the big thing. You had tendinitis. You look some anti-inflammatories, and you’d rest a little bit, and then you’d keep going.” Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Aroldis Chapman‘s return after a stay on the disabled list with a head injury allows the Reds plenty of flexibility in their bullpen, writes Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Chapman’s addition bumps Jonathan Broxton back to a setup role. The Reds have been fortunate in that their starters have worked deep into games, meaning that their bullpen likely won’t be overworked going forward. “There’s just not a lot of opportunities for these guys to come in the fifth or sixth and, sometimes, the seventh inning,” says manager Bryan Price. “We’ve spent a lot of time closing a game with one to two innings of bullpen work.”
  • Chris Davis made an appearance for Double-A Bowie on Saturday to rehab his injured oblique, and he feels he’s ready to return to the Orioles, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski tweets. Davis last appeared in a game for the Orioles on April 25, and Steve Pearce has largely handled first-base duties since then.

Quick Hits: Chapman, Giants, Stroman

The Reds have announced that they have reinstated closer Aroldis Chapman from the disabled list. He will immediately move back into his usual ninth-inning role, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Chapman had surgery to insert a metal plate into his head after being struck with a line drive in spring training. He made two rehab appearances for Triple-A Louisville this week. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Outfielder Tyler Colvin has been promoted to the Giants, Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News tweets.  Colvin had been hitting .267/.315/.408 in 130 plate appearances for Fresno. Brandon Belt, meanwhile, is headed to the disabled list with a broken thumb, and CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly writes that Belt could be out six weeks. Mike Morse will be the Giants’ starting first baseman until Belt returns, ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets. The Giants also activated Matt Cain and optioned pitcher George Kontos to Triple-A Fresno.
  • Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays is appearing as a reliever in his first stint in the big leagues even though he started in the minors, Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca notes. That’s a little bit unusual for a promising starting pitcher, but it’s not totally without precedent — Earl Weaver favored having rookie pitchers begin their careers in the bullpen, and the Cardinals frequently have top young starters pitch in relief in their first seasons. “We have been a very competitive team for the last ten years and we typically have had strong rotations,” says Cards GM John Mozeliak. “Getting pitchers to begin their careers in the bullpen allows them to experience the major league hitters, ballparks, and experience.” Mozeliak also adds that having young starters pitch in relief prevents them from becoming overworked. On the flip side, Nicholson-Smith points out, having an excellent young pitcher in the bullpen blunts his impact — having Jose Fernandez start his career in relief would have cost the Marlins wins, for example.

Central Notes: Chapman, Wong, Weeks, ChiSox, Cubs

On this date 70 years ago, Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis (home to the National League’s Cardinals and the American League’s Browns) became the final MLB stadium to integrate seating for fans. Although there was no official team or municipal policy, African-Americans were restricted to the bleachers before finally being allowed to purchase grandstand tickets.

Here’s today’s news and notes from MLB’s Central divisions:

  • Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is expected to rejoin the club this Friday, if his final two rehab appearances go well, reports MLB.com’s Andy Call. Chapman, who was struck by a line drive during a Spring Training game and needed a three-inch plate and 12 screws to stabilize the bones around his left eye, is scheduled to pitch in back-to-back Triple-A games beginning Tuesday.
  • Last year, the Cardinals sent a highly-touted prospect (Michael Wacha) to the minors after a disappointing start only to become a key player for them late in the season, and they are hoping history repeats itself with Kolten Wong, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • The Brewers should consider all alternatives when it comes to Rickie Weeks because his offensive struggles and being limited to only playing second base puts pressure on the organization, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak in a recent reader’s chat.
  • Both Chicago franchises, with the right returns in trades, could accelerate their rebuilding, opines Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Gonzales notes shedding Alexei Ramirez‘s salary would allow the White Sox to address other needs while the Cubs may deal Jason Hammel hoping for results similar to last summer’s flip of Scott Feldman.

NL Central Notes: Grichuk, Hellweg, Chapman

Randal Grichuk will make his first career start tonight for the Cardinals, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets. Grichuk will start in center field, a position usually occupied by Peter Bourjos. The Cardinals acquired both players this offseason, dealing David Freese and Fernando Salas to the Angels in a bid to upgrade their defense. The Cardinals have gotten little from Bourjos and from right fielder Allen Craig so far this season, while Grichuk and the Cardinals’ other Triple-A outfielders have excelled, so the Cardinals promoted Grichuk on Sunday. Here are more notes from around the NL Central.

  • Brewers prospect Johnny Hellweg had Tommy John surgery today, the Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt tweets. Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook 2014 ranked Hellweg the No. 4 prospect in a weak Brewers system. The 6-foot-9 righty walked 6.8 batters per nine in 126 Triple-A innings in 2013, and struggled badly with his control in 31 big-league innings. When healthy, however, he has an outstanding fastball, and gets plenty of outs on the ground.
  • Reds closer Aroldis Chapman could make a rehab appearance in Dayton on Thursday, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Chapman has been out since being hit in the face with a line drive in an ugly injury suffered in spring training.

NL Notes: Chapman, Turner, Cubs

Reds closer Aroldis Chapman got relatively good news a day after being struck in the face with a ball, as MLB.com's Mark Sheldon notes. He's having surgery today, but he could be out of the hospital by this weekend. He'll likely be out six to eight weeks, and the Reds believe he will definitely pitch this season. Best of all, he had only a mild concussion, and not a serious brain injury. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • The Marlins could deal starting pitcher Jacob Turner due to their depth of starting pitching, FOX Sports Jon Morosi tweets. The Mariners and Diamondbacks could be possible trade partners. Turner, who will be 23 in May, posted a 3.74 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 2013. He will be eligible for arbitration after the 2015 season and free agency after the 2018 season.
  • The Cubs are currently considering at least 12 players as potential selections with the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft, Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com writes. The draft isn't for another two-plus months, so it's hardly surprising that the Cubs' list would be so long. It includes now-familiar names like NC State pitcher Carlos Rodon (who very likely will be gone by the time the Cubs pick), East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman, Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede, and Texas high school pitcher Tyler Kolek.

Quick Hits: Pirates, Carp, Blue Jays, Chapman

Aroldis Chapman suffered fractures above his left eye and nose after being hit by a Salvador Perez line drive in a terrifying moment during tonight's Reds/Royals game.  Chapman was on the ground for over 10 minutes while medical personnel attended to him, and the closer was eventually taken off the field on a cart and taken to hospital.  Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters (including C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that Chapman "never lost consciousness. He was able to communicate, he was able to move his hands, his feet, his legs."  The Reds' official Twitter feed said that Chapman was staying overnight in hospital for further observation.  All of us at MLB Trade Rumors send our best wishes to Chapman in his recovery from that horrific incident.

Here are some items from around baseball…

  • The Pirates are open to dealing right-handed relievers Jeanmar Gomez and Bryan Morris, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports, though they'd prefer to keep Gomez since he can also start.  Both pitchers are out of options, and with the Pirates facing a crowded bullpen situation, it's no surprise that they're listening to offers for Morris, Gomez and (as reported yesterday) Vin Mazzaro.
  • With the Pirates shopping relievers and looking for catching, Davidoff notes that the Yankees match up as trading partners due to their catcher surplus.  A rival talent evaluator feels that the bullpen may be the Yankees' "biggest concern" due to a lack of proven arms, though several of those young pitchers have performed well in Spring Training.
  • Blue Jays president Paul Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos denied that the Jays' lack of offseason spending had anything to do with a new CEO at Rogers Communications, the team's parent company, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi reports.  "There’s been no suggestion of any type of cutback, there’s no suggestion of anything other than support and of everything being positive," Beeston said.
  • The Red Sox aren't particularly interested in trading Mike Carp, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (ESPN Insider subscription required).  The Sox aren't sure if they "could get something particularly appealing" in a deal involving Carp.  The Pirates, Brewers and Tigers have all been linked to Carp in rumors this offseason, and with Grady Sizemore's strong Spring Training, Carp could be an expendable piece on the Boston roster.
  • Between Jarrod Parker's Tommy John surgery and injuries to A.J. Griffin and Scott Kazmir, MLB.com's Jane Lee feels the Athletics could be forced to look for external pitching help in the case of any more injuries or if any of their current starters struggle.  Lee also addresses several other A's topics as part of her reader mailbag piece, including Hiroyuki Nakajima's status in the club's minor league camp.
  • With the Barry Bonds and Melky Cabrera controversies still lingering in the franchise's recent past, Giants president and CEO Larry Baer told Henry Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle that his club is more inclined to avoid players with drug suspensions.  "We don't have a blanket policy saying we'll never touch a player that has a PED history. But I'd say that for us, it's a larger mountain to climb than others," Baer said.  The Giants will look at such players "on a case-by-case basis" (like recent signing Mike Morse, suspended for 10 games in 2005) but players like Nelson Cruz who were coming off PED suspensions and required draft pick compensation to sign seem out of the question.  "Qualifying offer and a PED association – that's a bad combination. Brian [Sabean] and I both feel very strongly about that," Baer said.

Reds Avoid Arbitration With Aroldis Chapman

The Reds have avoided arbitration with All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman by agreeing to a one-year, $5MM contract, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter).

Chapman, a client of Hendricks Sports, agreed to a deal that is valued at the midpoint of the respective $5.4MM and $4.6MM figures that he and the Reds submitted. The flamethrowing left-hander agreed to a six-year, $30.25MM contract with the Reds back in January 2010, but that contract was unique in its structure. Chapman was paid a $16.25MM signing bonus with guaranteed salaries of $1MM (2010-11), $2MM (2012-13) and $3MM (2014) with a $5MM player option.

However, Chapman's contract contains a clause stating that were he to become arbitration eligible prior to the 2014 season, the $3MM guarantee would be converted to a signing bonus in order for him to head to arbitration. That proved to be the case, as the Cuban hurler has accumulated three years, 34 days of Major League service time.

Following the completion of the 2014 World Series, Chapman will have five days to decide whether or not to exercise his $5MM player option. Given his $5MM salary in 2014, he's a lock to decline that option and seek a significant raise in his second time through arbitration.

Chapman, who turns 26 a month from today, has cemented himself among the ranks of elite closers over the course of the past two seasons. Averaging 98 mph on his fastball and 15.6 strikeouts per nine innings in that time, Chapman has made a pair of All-Star teams and totaled 76 saves while holding opponents to a combined .152/.246/.249 batting line.

As shown in MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker, Chapman and Homer Bailey were the only two Reds players to exchange figures with the team, and Bailey is now the only unresolved case on GM Walt Jocketty's plate.