Aroldis Chapman Rumors

Latest On Giants’ Efforts To Add Pitching

We’ve heard recently that the Giants are only interested in premium arms, if they add to their staff. But Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com hears (Twitter link) that San Francisco is looking at several rotation options, but remains a “long shot” to actually pull the trigger on a deal to add a major starter.

Meanwhile, the Giants have at least inquired with the Reds on ace reliever Aroldis Chapman, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. The clubs have not exchanged offers, so it appears as if the discussions are rather preliminary.

While the Giants have not received the strongest work from veteran righty Santiago Casilla, or from top set-up man Sergio Romo, the club has received solid overall results from its pen. It remains to be seen how motivated they are to add a pen arm, but if the interest in Chapman is indication, San Francisco will look to the top of the market in that area as well.


Closer Notes: Nationals, Papelbon, Chapman

The Phillies and Nationals recently discussed a trade involving Jonathan Papelbon, but a deal between the two teams does not seem likely, Jake Kaplan of the Inquirer writes. Papelbon would need to approve a trade to Washington, but his preference is to remain a closer, and the Nats already have an excellent one in Drew Storen. Here are more quick notes on relievers.

  • Rival executives think that if the Nationals do make a move this week, it will be a big one, ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweets. Stark speculates that could mean a pursuit of the PadresCraig Kimbrel or the RedsAroldis Chapman. Neither of those pitchers have no-trade restrictions. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi wrote last month that the Nationals and Reds had discussed Chapman.
  • Trading for Chapman might be tricky, however. Stark also tweets that the Reds have asked other teams for three “higher-level” prospects in return for their closer. The significance of that information depends on how good those higher-level prospects are, but it appears they’re in no rush to part with him lightly. The Reds could certainly wait to deal Chapman, who isn’t eligible for free agency until after next season.

Stark On Chapman, Shields, Cashner, Astros, Royals

The asking price on Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is currently said by one American League executive to be “exorbitant,” tweets ESPN’s Jayson Stark. Other clubs doubt that Reds owner Bob Castellini is open to allowing Chapman to be moved in a trade, according to Stark. This isn’t the first time that Castellini’s name has come up as a potential road block in trades. Peter Gammons recently noted that the Castellini remains reluctant to authorize a sale, even in late July, and others have reported similar feelings from Castellini over the course of the summer. Retaining Chapman would make some sense if the Reds felt they have the pieces in place to make a run in 2016, but he’s already earning $8.05MM (and that figures to jump into the $12MM range this offseason) and is only controlled for one more season.

A few more notes from around the league, courtesy of Stark (all Stark links point to Twitter)…

  • The Padres are listening to offers on their entire rotation, but they “really want to move” both James Shields and Andrew Cashner, Stark hears from other teams. Shields’ name has surfaced as an unexpected trade candidate in recent weeks, and it sounds like San Diego is very open to moving Shields’ backloaded deal. A team taking on Shields would need to be willing to commit three years and $64MM to him, barring financial help from the Padres, but there’s also the chance that Shields could opt out of the final two years of his contract. With a strong 2016 performance, he may feel that he can do better than the final $45MM he’s guaranteed over the 2017-18 seasons.
  • That the club “really wants to move” Cashner is a bit more puzzling. While Shields is an aging veteran that has the potential to handcuff future payroll flexibility with his sizable financial commitment, Cashner’s 28 years old and enjoying a solid season (though his 4.10 ERA is a bit worse than sabermetric marks such as his 3.69 xFIP). Cashner’s earning a very reasonable $4.05MM in 2015 and will receive a raise this offseason before qualifying for free agency after the 2016 campaign. He does have a lengthy injury history, so perhaps the thinking among the new San Diego brass is that his value won’t be higher than it is now, and they don’t want to risk a second half injury.
  • The Astros “aren’t done” after acquiring Scott Kazmir yesterday, per Stark. The team is still hunting for bullpen upgrades (GM Jeff Luhnow’s stated preference has been to add a “flamethrower,” if he upgrades the ‘pen at all) as well as corner outfield bats.
  • Similarly, the Royals aren’t targeting one specific area of upgrade, says Stark. Rival clubs say that Kansas City GM Dayton Moore appears to be “open to anything,” whether that means a rotation upgrade, an outfield bat or adding both to the mix.
  • There’s a sense among some clubs that tomorrow’s Cole Hamels start could have a great influence on his trade market, it seems, as Stark quotes one executive saying, “He’s pitched in the playoffs and World Series. But for that front office, this may be the biggest start he’s ever had.” The Phillies‘ ace has been torched in each of his past two starts.


NL Central Notes: Reds, Parra, Soriano, Alvarez

The Reds have opened the doors on a fire sale, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Todd Frazier will stay put. Billy Hamilton probably isn’t going anywhere. Most others are probably on the table. Fay expects at least four players to be traded, presumably Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman, and Marlon Byrd as a starting point. Others like Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Skip Schumaker are also expected to be shopped. The Reds are seven games below .500 and 15.5 games back in the NL Central. It’s probably too late for a rebound.

Here’s more news out of the NL Central:

  • Gerardo Parra‘s strong play has all but ensured that he’ll be traded by the Brewers, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Parra is in the midst of a career season, hitting .311/.345/.502 with nine home runs and six stolen bases. Known for fantastic defense, he’s actually struggled this year per Ultimate Zone Rating (-9.8 UZR). Still, plenty of playoff teams have need of a high average, left-handed outfielder.
  • Cubs manager Joe Maddon said reliever Rafael Soriano might be “up sooner than planned,” tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Soriano was signed on June 12. He has a career 2.85 ERA and 207 saves in 630 innings. The Cubs have manufactured a pseudo-closer battle. They demoted Hector Rondon from the role earlier in the summer despite solid production. The club also recently called up Neil Ramirez – another candidate for saves.
  • The Pirates would probably like to de-emphasize Pedro Alvarez, reports Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The former third baseman has continued his defensive ineptitude at first base with 15 errors. He’s also offered a .233/.299/.424 slash which is well below average for a first baseman. Unfortunately, the Pirates will have to look outside of the organization to move beyond Alvarez. Adam Lind is probably the most notable first baseman on the trade market. If the Pirates get creative, they could also try a three-team swap for Jon Singleton. Typically, Pittsburgh will look for fringier options like Chris Parmelee. We heard earlier this evening that the Orioles may soon designate Parmelee for assignment.

Reds Prefer Not To Package Cueto, Chapman In Same Trade

The Reds are reportedly prepared to trade both Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, but while there’s been a good deal of speculation about the possibility of packaging Cueto and closer Aroldis Chapman, the team is not presently entertaining the notion, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. If the Reds do decide to make Chapman available — and based on Nightengale’s wording, there’s been no decision on that front yet — the preference would be to move the pair in separate transactions.

There’s less motivation for the Reds to move Chapman in the coming two weeks than there is for the team to move Cueto and Leake, as Chapman still has one season of team control remaining beyond the current campaign. Of course, that season will be an expensive one. Chapman’s earning $8.05MM in 2015 and is due a raise in arbitration this winter. Given his brilliant numbers — 32 saves, 1.69 ERA, 65-to-20 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings — it’s easy to envision his price tag soaring into the $11-12MM range. Chapman did, after all, receive a $3.05MM raise this past offseason on the strength of similar numbers in 2014.

It would seem to me that if the plan is to trade Cueto and Leake at peak value, then moving Chapman is a reasonable step as well. His value certainly goes down following the season — he’ll have less team control and a higher price tag — and the 2016 season could be one of transition for the Reds. He’d still fetch a haul this winter or even next July, but when considering the number of teams needing bullpen help and the lack of clear sellers on the market, it’s easy to see that Chapman would be among the game’s most coveted trade targets.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Desmond, Toussaint, D-Backs, Samardzija, Cotts

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal begins with an interesting note on the Nationals. Despite a substantial payroll and a heavy offseason investment in Max Scherzer, Nats ownership is reluctant to add payroll during the season. Rosenthal notes that, in hindsight, we saw an indication of this last July when Cleveland paid all of the $3.3MM remaining on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s salary after the Nats acquired him. (Of course, the Nats were also willing to take on all of Matt Thornton‘s salary via waiver claim.)

Because of this, Rosenthal wonders if the Nats will consider trading Ian Desmond this summer to clear room for a different acquisition. Given Desmond’s struggles, the team could be better off with Danny Espinosa, Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon seeing regular time in the infield. Earlier in the week, I speculated on a possible Desmond trade after it was reported that the Nats were interesred in the D-Backs’ middle infielders, but Rosenthal notes that it could also allow them more flexibility to pursue Aroldis Chapman, Ben Zobrist or even a reunion with Tyler Clippard. Of course, Desmond’s offensive and defensive woes diminish his trade value, as well.

A few more highlights from Rosenthal’s column…

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Rosenthal that he usually doesn’t pay attention to media criticism, but he’s aware of the near-universal criticism of the D-Backs for their trade of Touki Toussaint (in which the team essentially sold its 2014 first-round pick to Atlanta). Rosenthal quotes Stewart: “The truth is we did not know what Touki’s value would be if we shopped him. There is a lot of speculation on that. People are assuming it would have been better, but we don’t know. There was an opportunity to make a deal that gave us more flexibility today as well as next year. We took that opportunity. It’s tough to say we could have gotten more. He was drafted at No. 16, given ($2.7) million. In my opinion, that’s his value.” Stewart continues to say that Toussaint has not thrown 96 mph with the D-Backs, despite some scouting reports and that there’s “some inflation of what people think Touki is.” Stewart adds that the D-Backs think Toussaint will be a Major League pitcher but not for another five to six years.
  • A brief interjection from me to offer my take on those comments: It’s odd to hear a GM openly devalue a player in this fashion, even after trading him away. Beyond that, however, it’s puzzling to hear Stewart equate Toussaint’s value with the clearly arbitrary number assigned to last year’s draft slot value. Having shown a willingness to spend $16MM+ on a pitching prospect (Yoan Lopez) this offseason, Stewart is undoubtedly cognizant of the fact that Toussaint would have fetched far, far more than $2.7MM in a theoretical free agent setting. Additionally, if they truly do feel that Toussaint will pitch in the Major Leagues, that makes the trade all the more puzzling to me, as my best explanation to this point had been that they simply didn’t believe in his future all that strongly.
  • Back to Rosenthal’s piece, which has several more quotes from Stewart, including the GM’s own admission of surprise to his team’s current standing in the NL West. The D-Backs were built with an eye on the longer-term picture than 2015, says Stewart, and they’ll need to assess how to respond at the deadline. To this point, the D-Backs have received inquiries on their starting pitching, but not on their middle infield. Stewart flatly says “…we’re not moving [Nick] Ahmed,” and calls a trade of Chris Owings “very unlikely.” Interestingly, that does seem to indicate that the new GM values Ahmed over Owings.
  • The Astros remain interested in Jeff Samardzija, and as Rosenthal notes, a move away from what has been a brutal White Sox defense would likely help Samardzija quite a bit. Samardzija’s .338 BABIP has helped contribute to a significant discrepancy between his 4.53 ERA and 3.67 FIP. Of course, Chicago’s porous defense doesn’t necessarily explain Samardzija’s diminished strikeout rate and struggles to strand runners in 2015. The Astros, Rosenthal says, are eyeing Samardzija and other pitchers, but the White Sox are not yet ready to sell.
  • The Brewers aren’t receiving very strong interest in Francisco Rodriguez, likely in part due to his backloaded contract, Rosenthal hears. K-Rod is still owed $1.95MM in 2015, plus $9.5MM in 2016 between his salary and the buyout on a $6MM club option for the 2017 season. Lefty Neal Cotts, however, figures to be in demand and may even be of interest to his former club, the Rangers, Rosenthal writes. Cotts’s 4.30 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but he’s held lefties to a .546 OPS.
  • The Cardinals might not be as urgent to add a starter as many had previously expected. The club feels that Michael Wacha can top 200 innings, and Carlos Martinez can deliver about 170. A bigger need might be a left-handed-hitting complement for Mark Reynolds at first base, and Rosenthal suggests Adam LaRoche as a speculative fit to improve the team on both sides of the ball.

Quick Hits: Astros, Huntington, Reds, Nola

Collin McHugh‘s recent struggles have only sharpened the Astros‘ need for starting pitching help, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes.  McHugh has a 7.77 ERA over his last four starts, leaving ace Dallas Keuchel as the only truly reliable rotation option, as it’s asking a lot of rookies Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez to immediately help carry a playoff-contending team (though McCullers has been outstanding in six starts.)  Here’s some more from around baseball as we head into the new week…

  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington tells David Manel of the Bucs Dugout blog that the club will again “walk that balance between now and the future” in making any deadline additions.  “We want to do everything we can to put this club in a position to make the playoffs this year, win a World Series this year. At the same time, we want to be able to be in that position as many years in the future as we can,” Huntington said.  Pittsburgh will face a lot of competition in making deals only a few teams are truly out of the race at this point; as Huntington puts it, “this is absolutely a sellers market, at this point in time.”
  • The rising costs of youth baseball has led to fewer young athletes choosing the game, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes.  The Pirates value having versatile players who are able to play multiple positions, and the best fits for this model are those who played baseball and other sports growing up, so they have a larger athletic toolbox.  With more youngsters specializing only in one sport growing up, however, these well-rounded athletes are harder to find.
  • Despite the Reds‘ struggles, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer doesn’t think manager Bryan Price’s job is in jeopardy.  “It would be hard and foolish to fire Bryan Price given all the injuries” the Reds have had to deal with, Fay writes.
  • Most scouts feel that the Reds wouldn’t trade Aroldis Chapman “if push came to shove” and they became deadline sellers, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports.  There hasn’t been any indication that the Reds are willing to deal Chapman, though his name has at least been floated in talks with the Nationals.
  • Also from Cafardo, some scouts following the Reds have mentioned Brandon Phillips, but while he’s having a good season, Cafardo feels the second baseman’s large contract is still a deterrent to a trade.
  • The Padres, White Sox and Indians are three of the many clubs still relatively close to a postseason spot but unsure if they’ll be able to make a legitimate run, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Insider subscription required).  San Diego’s situation is particularly tricky given their major winter expenditures and rival evaluators doubt that the Padres would engage in any major sell-off if they continue to struggle.
  • Top Phillies pitching prospect Aaron Nola has been promoted to Triple-A, the club announced earlier today.  Nola, the seventh overall pick of the 2014 draft, posted a 1.88 ERA and 6.56 K/BB rate over 76 2/3 innings at Double-A this season, with the only minor red flag being a middling 6.9 K/9.  At this point, Nola seems well on pace to earn a promotion to the Show late this season.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Reds, A’s, Orioles, Marlins

The Reds are doomed by injuries and an 11.5 game deficit, says FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in his latest video. However, owner Bob Castellini is not yet ready to concede. The baseball operations staff understands that the club needs to convert veterans and soon-to-be free agents into future talent – they just have to convince their boss.

  • The A’s have performed well by run differential as well as the BaseRuns metric used by FanGraphs. However, they are 13 games below .500 and 10 games back in the AL West. The bullpen is a serious issue. Other clubs are looking to snipe players like Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard. Expect GM Billy Beane to jump on a properly enticing offer.
  • The Orioles have nine impending free agents. They should act as both buyers and sellers at the trade deadline. The club needs a power hitting corner outfield. They could trade a starter like Bud Norris.
  • The Marlins may also look to deal a starter. Jarred Cosart will return from the disabled list soon. Jose Urena or Tom Koehler are candidates to be optioned. However, there will be a surplus once Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery. At that point, the club could look to trade Dan Haren or Mat Latos. The Marlins are currently nine games below .500 but just six back in a weak NL East.
  • If Cincinnati shops Aroldis Chapman, count the Marlins among the potential suitors. The club is always a fit for Cuban talent. Personally, I’m not sure if Chapman is the best use of Miami’s resources. Reliever A.J. Ramos has ably replaced Steve Cishek as the closer, but he has bouts of wildness in his track record. However, Carter Capps is standing by should Ramos falter.

Nats, Reds Have Discussed Aroldis Chapman Trade

The Nationals and Reds have discussed a trade involving Aroldis Chapman, although no deal appears imminent, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. (In a separate tweet, Morosi characterizes the talks as “very preliminary.”) Earlier today, Morosi wrote that the Nationals were looking for late-inning bullpen help. Chapman would obviously fit the bill, even though the Nats don’t have any specific need for a closer in particular, with Drew Storen performing well.

The 27-year-old Chapman has struggled with his control a bit more this year than in years past, with 5.6 BB/9. As usual, though, his eye-popping stuff and strikeout numbers (14.8 K/9) have been more than enough to paper over any minor control issues. Chapman’s fastball remains otherworldly, clocking in at an average velocity of 99.5 MPH this year, and his slider is very much a plus pitch as well.

Chapman is making $8.05MM this season. He is eligible for free agency after 2016. Given his dominance, he represents a bargain at his current salary. The prospect cost the Reds could command for him ought to be substantial, particularly given that he has a year of control remaining beyond this one.


Quick Hits: Indians, Correa, Astros, Gee, Reds

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • The Indians aren’t likely to option Jose Ramirez or call up Francisco Lindor, writes Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. As Hoynes puts it, Ramirez often does something to help the team win despite a .184/.252/.245 slash. The club would like to see more from Lindor before considering a promotion. He’s currently hitting .265/.341/.383 at Triple-A. Mike Aviles is stretched thin covering for both Ramirez and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. The team could promote utility infield Zach Walters, but there’s no guarantee he would be an upgrade. As such, Ramirez will probably continue to play with regularity.
  • Astros top prospect Carlos Correa could be promoted as soon as their upcoming series against the White Sox, writes Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. Manager A.J. Hinch spoke with reporters about the importance of being mentally and physically prepared for the majors. With Jed Lowrie sidelined, the club has turned to a combination of Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar. The pair have not performed well. Given Houston’s place atop the AL West, there is some pressure to summon Correa. Since his promotion to Triple-A, he’s hitting a restrained .253/.324/.429 in 102 plate appearances.
  • The Astros have the highest bonus pool for the upcoming draft, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. Houston can spend $17,289,200 because they have the second and fifth overall picks. GM Jeff Luhnow aims to have the “best yield” of any club. In the past, the Astros signed Correa to an under-slot contract in order to go over-slot for Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz. They attempted to do the same last year with Brady Aiken and Jacob Nix, but Aiken’s failed physical ruined that plan.
  • The Mets have scrapped their six-man rotation, and Dillon Gee will move to the bullpen, writes Adam Rubin of ESPN. Gee is unhappy with the move. He believes he’ll have less value to the team and on the trade market as a reliever. He’s owed $5.3MM in 2015 and is club controlled through 2016. The club was using a six-man rotation to limit the workloads of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. New York may also promote Steven Matz at some point. He has a 1.94 ERA with 9.08 K/9 and 3.27 BB/9 in the hitter friendly PCL.
  • The next few weeks will decide if the Reds are deadline sellers, writes Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The team is currently 23-31 and seven games back from the second Wild Card slot. If the club continues to scuffle, players like Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jay Bruce could be shopped. Cueto and Leake are free agents at the end of the season.