Aroldis Chapman Rumors

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.

Reds’ First Priority Is Finding A Starting Pitcher

The Reds have made it no secret that they want to add a top-of-the-rotation starter this winter, and today GM Walt Jocketty reiterated to John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer that starting pitching is the team's top priority…

“I can’t comment of other team’s players," said Jocketty, "although others are OK talking about ours. I will say we’re looking at improving pitching. The first priority is finding a starting pitcher. If [Francisco] Cordero leaves, we’ll have to look at finding a closer.”

The Reds have been linked to Huston Street and Andrew Bailey this week, and earlier this month Jocketty said the team is more likely to seek upgrades via trade rather than free agency. Internal solutions are also "something we'll discuss" according to GM, who said that Aroldis Chapman "probably" won't be one of those solutions. The hard-throwing southpaw was supposed to work as a starter in winter ball before a shoulder problem put that plan on hold.

Yonder Alonso is the club's primary piece of trade bait since Joey Votto is off limits. Tim Dierkes broke down the trade market for starting pitchers earlier this month, though not many of the clubs with available starters are in need of a first baseman.


Central Notes: Fister, Pence, Cubs

A few items of note regarding teams from MLB's Central divisions, as the Cards fall behind the Phils in Game 1 of the NLDS.

  • The Tigers preferred Doug Fister to Ubaldo Jimenez when they were shopping for a pitcher before the trade deadline, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Whether that's true, we'll probably never know, but Fister certainly pitched better for Detroit than Jimenez did for Cleveland after the deadline. The Mariners were originally hesitant to move Fister, according to Knobler, but Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski was persistent in pursuing the right-hander.
  • The Reds tried to acquire Hunter Pence from the Astros, according to Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News, and GM Walt Jocketty has said he thought he made a better offer to Houston than the one it eventually accepted from the Phillies. McCoy reports that the Astros wanted Devin Mesoraco and adds that lefty Aroldis Chapman was not available.
  • The Cubs remain in limbo while waiting to hire a new general manager, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, who notes that the fates of manager Mike Quade, his coaches, and several players are up in the air until someone takes the helm. The Cubs are unlikely to spend lavishly this offseason, according to Sullivan.

Reds Considering Cordero Extension

In looking at Francisco Cordero's 2012 option earler this week, MLBTR's Dan Mennella speculated that the Reds will probably decline the $12MM commitment. He's very likely correct, but according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati may not have to make that decision. Cordero is willing to re-negotiate the option, and the Reds have interest in working out a new extension with their closer of the past four seasons.

General manager Walt Jocketty said the Reds have discussed an extension "quite a bit" but haven't made a final decision;they're hoping to make that call before season's end.

As Fay points out, the Reds don't have an obvious replacement for Cordero on their roster and would likely have to sign another one. The team is leaning toward using Aroldis Chapman in the starting rotation next year, Nick Masset has been decent but not great, and while Bill Bray's numbers appear nice, his career numbers against right-handers aren't overly impressive (.262/.327/.424 triple slash line).

Cordero is in the midst of a brilliant season; the 37-year-old righty has a 2.30 ERA with 32 saves and a career-low 2.4 BB/9 in 62 2/3 innings to date. However his 5.7 K/9 is also a career-low, and his average fastball velocity, while still a solid 93mph, is down considerably from when he averaged 94-96mph routinely from 2003-2008. Cordero posted a 10.3 K/9 over 432 1/3 innings in that stretch.

It's tough to see an extension for Cordero guaranteeing anything other than two more years, perhaps with a club option for the 2014 season, when he'd be 40 years old. Cordero has expressed his desire to stay in Cincinnati, and we saw the Reds go down a similar path with Bronson Arroyo last offseason, working out a three-year extension as he entered what would have been an option year (though they exercised his option first). A two-year deal to replace the $12MM option may have to guarantee Cordero more than that dollar amount, but perhaps his desire to remain a Red would lead to a discount.

Remember that for updates on all things closer-related, you can follow @closernews on Twitter or visit CloserNews.com.


Ubaldo Jimenez Rumors: Tuesday

Yesterday, a Major League source close to the Ubaldo Jimenez trade talks told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the chances of a deal are "around 50/50."  Here's the latest on the Rockies' ace, with the newest info up top…

  • The Yankees and Red Sox called the Rockies about Jimenez today, according to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Talks with the Reds appear to be further along, though the Rockies appear to be asking for Travis Wood, Bailey and either Chapman or Mesoraco. The Rockies won’t lower their asking price, Harding reports. The Reds haven't said no yet, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). Until they do, there's a slim chance a deal will occur.
  • Sources tell Dan Knobler of CBSSports.com that the team with the best chance to trade for Jimenez is the Yankees (Twitter link). The Blue Jays are considered a "real longshot at best."
  • About seven teams are interested in Jimenez, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com who names the Reds, Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Indians and Blue Jays (on Twitter).
  • The Blue Jays "legitimately want" Jimenez, according an executive who spoke to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (on Twitter).
  • The Rockies have asked the Reds about Homer Bailey, tweets Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.  Earlier,  Renck wrote that "chances remain slim" of a Jimenez trade.  He said the Rockies "continue to listen and negotiate with multiple teams regarding Jimenez, with the Reds receiving the most attention," but in general Colorado's demands are so high that no team is expected to bite.  Renck said the Rockies have asked the Reds for Devin MesoracoAroldis Chapman, and Chris Heisey, among others.  In an email exchange with MLBTR, Renck clarified that the Rockies asked for Mesoraco and Chapman together while Heisey is simply another name that has come up in talks.  Both Mesoraco and Chapman appear to be untouchable.
  • The feeling from executives is that the Rockies want to find a trade for Jimenez, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  The Yankees, Red Sox, and Reds are calling, and the Blue Jays kicked the tires.
  • The price on Jimenez hasn't dropped at all, writes ESPN's Jayson Stark.  He says the Rockies require "three sure-thing young players, including one pitcher who goes into their rotation immediately."  One executive who spoke with the Rockies pegs the chances of a deal at no more than 25 percent.
  • The Rockies "recently held a two-hour internal conference call to go over the trade alternatives" for Jimenez, writes SI's Jon Heyman.

Rosenthal On Chapman, Braves, Rockies, Norris

Aroldis Chapman went on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation today, after Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on the Reds’ options for proceeding with the struggling Cuban left-hander. Here’s the latest on Chapman plus notes from around the league:

  • A veteran scout insists that the Reds need to demote Chapman and make him a starter, but pitching coach Bryan Price isn’t so sure that a demotion is the way to go. He points out that Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson took time to develop. “Both struggled with command until they got enough work to figure out how their body works, how to put their hand in the right position to throw quality strikes,” Price said.
  • The Braves would ideally add a leadoff hitter and put Martin Prado second in the order, according to Rosenthal. He suggests the Braves could target leadoff options Jose Reyes, Grady Sizemore, Denard Span or David DeJesus via trade or free agency after the season.
  • The Rockies appear to be concerned about losing out of options relievers Felipe Paulino and Franklin Morales to waivers.
  • Astros GM Ed Wade says Bud Norris has become a much more mature pitcher. The 26-year-old right-hander has 60 strikeouts in 50 innings this year.