Aroldis Chapman Rumors

Central Notes: Gomez, Chapman, Choate, Indians

It was on this day in 1932 that the Reds and Dodgers swung a very notable trade.  Clyde Sukeforth, Tony Cuccinello and Joe Stripp went to Brooklyn while Cincinnati acquired Babe Herman, Wally Gilbert and a then-23-year-old catcher named Ernie Lombardi.  Needless to say, this deal ended up being a big win for the Reds — Lombardi spent the bulk (10 years) of his Hall of Fame career in Cincinnati and hit .311/.359/.469 and 120 homers with the club.  Lombardi won two batting titles during his career, and was the last catcher to lead the NL in average until Buster Posey last season.

Here are some items from around both the NL and AL Central…


Bowden On Hamilton, Morse, Soriano, Chapman

In advance of his show this afternoon on SiriusXM, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and SiriusXM has been tweeting out a number of interesting tidbits from Nashville's Winter Meetings. Here are a few of the highlights from the former MLB GM (all links go to Twitter):

  • Bowden views the Rangers and Red Sox as the frontrunners for Josh Hamilton, with the Yankees as a dark horse. He doesn't believe Hamilton would sign with the Mariners even if Seattle made the best offer.
  • The Orioles, Mariners, and Rays could all approach the Nationals about trading bullpen help for Mike Morse if the Nats end up re-signing Adam LaRoche.
  • Don't eliminate the Dodgers as a possible landing spot for Rafael Soriano, despite their multiyear commitment to Brandon League.
  • After speaking with Reds manager Dusty Baker, Bowden believes Aroldis Chapman may be closing again in 2013 if it's Baker's call, which would affect Cincinnati's offseason plans. Of course, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes (on Twitter) that the decision isn't expected to be up to Baker.

Jocketty On Ludwick, Chapman, Votto

It’s no secret that Reds GM Walt Jocketty intends to upgrade the Cincinnati outfield this offseason. Jocketty addressed his search for outfield help and other Reds-related questions in a conversation with MLBTR at the GM Meetings in Indian Wells, California. Here are the details.

  • Jocketty said the Reds hope to re-sign Ryan Ludwick this winter. “We’ve made some progress, but it’ll probably take another week or two before we know where we’re at,” the GM said. “
  • Ideally the Reds would like to add a leadoff hitter. Whether the newcomer plays center or left field has yet to be determined.
  • The Reds view Aroldis Chapman as a starting pitcher long-term and they could make him a starter in 2013 if they acquire a free agent reliever. “If we re-sign Ryan Madson or [Jonathan] Broxton or someone else it would allow us to move Chapman to the rotation,” Jocketty said. Pitching coach Bryan Price feels strongly that Chapman can become a top of the rotation starter.
  • Signing Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips in the spring helped the Reds focus on other needs this offseason, the GM said. “That was important for us to do, for sure.”


Central Links: Cubs, Chapman, Madson, Asdrubal

Some late-night reading surrounding baseball's two Central divisions…


Stark On Chapman, Twins, Lind, Braves

Reds GM Walt Jocketty told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that he doesn’t mind the constant discussion surrounding Aroldis Chapman’s role. "I like it. It creates interest in our club, and that's all good,” Jocketty said. “Everybody has a theory on it.” The GM says Chapman would like to start, and that the left-hander will remain in the bullpen for the 2012 season. Here are the rest of Stark’s notes and rumors:

  • Twins people have told rival teams they aren’t likely to trade Justin Morneau this summer.
  • When teams have asked about Denard Span, the Twins have said they aren’t interested in making trades right now, Stark reports. However, there are indications the Twins will listen on Span if the offers are good enough.
  • Stark hears that the Nationals don’t consider Bryce Harper the answer in center field.
  • Scouts and executives from three teams say they don’t have interest in Adam Lind, who was recently optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas.
  • The Braves are more likely to pursue an impact starting pitcher than a hitter this summer, according to rival teams. GM Frank Wren maintains that Kris Medlen is “probably better than any arm who will be available.” Medlen could join the rotation midseason, according to Wren.
  • Rival teams say the Orioles would like to upgrade at first base and/or third base.
  • Stark hears that Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t have to worry about his job security. The skipper is under contract through 2018.

Quick Hits: Lind, Gomes, Chapman, Votto

The Blue Jays optioned the struggling Adam Lind to Triple-A earlier today. The 28-year-old has hit just .238/.289/.420 in nearly 1,300 plate appearances since signing his four-year, $18MM contract extension in April of 2010. Toronto recalled Yan Gomes to take Lind's roster spot, and tonight he became the first first Brazilian-born player in baseball history. Here's the latest from around the league…

  • Richard Griffin of The Toronto Star notes (on Twitter) that the Blue Jays would not have been able to option Lind after June 29th, when he would have accrued enough service time (five years) to decline an optional assignment.
  • “The longer we go, it will be harder to stretch (Aroldis Chapman) to start,” said Reds GM Walt Jocketty to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Chapman has not allowed a run in 20 1/3 innings this season with 34 strikeouts and seven walks. “We may be resigned to the fact that he will have to pitch in the bullpen all year," adde the GM.
  • Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com spoke to Reds manager Dusty Baker about the difference between signing a huge contract with a new team (like Albert Pujols) and signing a huge deal with your current team (like Joey Votto). "You get more tolerance," he said, referring to the slow starts each player has endured.

NL Central Notes: Chapman, Francis, Punto, Heredia

Let's continue our tour of the divisions with news from the NL Central…

  • "The Reds’ handling of Aroldis Chapman is beginning to resemble Joba Chamberlain 2.0," writes Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  Cincinnati is leaning towards using Chapman as a reliever this season but Passan argues that a pitcher with Chapman's potential should be given the chance to start and not worry about being shuttled between the rotation and the bullpen.  Another note from the piece is that Chapman's velocity is down to the 92-95 mph range this spring, but Chapman has been pleased with his improved command and his new pitch, a splitter.
  • Like Chapman, Jeff Francis has pitched well this spring but may not find a spot in the Reds rotation, prompting ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter) to consider Francis an "affordable alternative for teams in the John Lannan hunt."  Francis signed a minor league deal with the Reds that contains an opt-out clause for March 28 that he could exercise if he doesn't think he'll find a job in Cincinnati.  (In regards to Lannan, he could be off the trade market altogether given Chien-Ming Wang's hamstring injury today.)
  • Nick Punto told reporters (including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that his top two offseason options were the Cardinals and Red Sox, but the Cards never made him a contract offer.
  • Astros minor leaguer Angel Heredia has been suspended for 50 games following a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, reports The Associated Press.  Heredia, a right-handed pitcher, played for Houston's Dominican Summer League team.

Jocketty On Oswalt, Kazmir, Chapman

Reds GM Walt Jocketty expects to start Spring Training without making further changes to the team's roster, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Fay says the club will review its roster this week, but that it's "pretty well set." Here are some more notes from the GM:

  • The Reds haven't been in touch with Roy Oswalt's agents in the past week. “I think he’s waiting for Texas to clear money,” Jocketty said. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark said on Friday that Oswalt isn't going to sign with the Rangers or Phillies, however. Perhaps the Red Sox or Cardinals will make a late push for the right-hander.
  • The Reds are not interested in watching Scott Kazmir audition in front of scouts, Jocketty said. The free agent left-hander is looking for an opportunity with an MLB club and will pitch in front of an audience this Wednesday.
  • Aroldis Chapman is healthy and the Reds intend to work him out as a starter this spring.

Stark On Yankees, Red Sox, Reds, Garza

The new collective bargaining agreement has created millions of dollars in incentives for teams to be below the luxury tax when it reaches $189MM in 2014, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. The upcoming changes have contributed to the relatively restrained spending on the part of the Yankees and Red Sox this offseason, Stark writes. Here are the rest of his rumors…

  • The Yankees won’t be under the luxury tax threshold in 2012 or 2013, but they hope to spend less than $189MM in 2014, Stark writes. However, the CBA isn’t the only reason the Yankees are spending more cautiously. "I think this is what the Yankees were going to do, regardless," one of Stark’s sources said.
  • Hiroki Kuroda is sending signals to the Yankees and Red Sox that he’d like to sign with one of those teams, Stark reports. The Red Sox are “nowhere near close” on Kuroda while the Yankees are mostly “kicking tires,” Stark hears. Stark's colleague Buster Olney reported today that Kuroda's asking price has dropped to the $10-11MM range.
  • Though rival teams were surprised to see the Reds agree to terms with Ryan Madson, the move will help the team stockpile draft picks. They’ll obtain a compensatory pick when Francisco Cordero signs elsewhere and could obtain two more picks if they tender Madson a contract next offseason and he leaves as a free agent.
  • The Reds are going to attempt to turn Aroldis Chapman into a starter this Spring Training, though there’s some skepticism he’ll thrive in the rotation.
  • Chad Qualls’ name is on the Phillies’ shopping list, Stark reports.
  • Rival teams predict the Cubs won’t trade Matt Garza until July, when there are fewer alternatives available in free agency.
  • Stark hears that the Astros would pay half of the $18.5MM remaining on Carlos Lee’s contract and at least $7MM of the $11MM that Brett Myers will earn in 2012. Wandy Rodriguez is also available, though the Astros don’t appear to be nearing a deal involving the left-hander.

Quick Hits: Kubel, Chapman, Aoki, Cuddyer

On this day last year, the Padres traded Brandon Gomes, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, and Cole Figueroa to the Rays for Jason Bartlett and a player to be named later (though Tampa would eventually send cash instead). Here's some notes from around the league…

  • The Reds have had conversations with Jason Kubel, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter).  GM Walt Jocketty told Fay (Twitter link) that the club does not have the type of money to sign someone to a Josh Willingham-type deal.
  • Even after trading for Mat Latos, Reds GM Walt Jocketty still plans on using Aroldis Chapman as a starter, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnatti Enquirer.  Jocketty did leave room for a change of heart, however, noting that things could change later on.
  • We should soon find out which team won the bidding for Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
  • ESPN's Keith Law feels that the Rockies overpaid for Michael Cuddyer, who he considers to be a part-time player (ESPN Insider link). In Law's opinion, Colorado is receiving perhaps a one win upgrade over Seth Smith, but paying $7-8MM more than Smith would earn.
  • In that same piece, Law says that he likes the Twins' gamble on Josh Willingham better, but notes that he should be a DH rather than an outfielder and that the contract is still a gamble because Willingham showed signs of decline in 2011.
  • Willingham told MLB.com's Jane Lee that leaving the Athletics wasn't an easy decision, but GM Billy Beane was honest and up front about the fact that he could probably only offer a one-year deal through arbitration.
  • Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel provides some details on the heavily backloaded contracts that Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle received from the Marlins. Bell's vesting option triggers if he finishes 55 games in 2014, or a combined 100 between 2013-14. He and Buehrle both took signing bonuses deferred withiout interest, and all three have contractual obligations to donate to charity each season.
  • Law (via Twitter) prefers Aaron Cunningham to Cory Burns. The Indians acquired Cunningham from the Padres in exchange for Burns yesterday.