Maybe you saw it. The Inside the ‘Zona 2015-2016 Offseason Plan came out on Wednesday. It included a few trades – two for relievers. Neither of those relievers was Aroldis Chapman even though he’s expected to be traded sometime in the next two weeks or so. The Reds are pretty determined to move him (and Todd Frazier and maybe some other guys) and the Diamondbacks had interest in him last year near the trade deadline. A deal was never worked out because, as you may remember, the Reds wanted a ton for their closer. The D-backs ultimately said “no thanks.”
But that was then and this is now. Time has passed. Chapman has thrown more pitches. Most of them were extremely effective. There’s no real reason to think he’s gotten any worse. But what he has gotten is closer to being a free agent. In July, he was about 1 1/3 season away from hitting the open market. Now he’s 1 season away. That would presumably lower what the Reds can ask for him. Back then, it was Brandon Drury, Braden Shipley and more. And even though you’d think that price would have dropped, it sounds like it hasn’t. As Nick Cafardo reported earlier this month:
The Reds listened to Boston’s pitch for Chapman but required more than the Red Sox offered for (Craig) Kimbrel, and the Sox weren’t comfortable going the extra mile for a pitcher who can become a free agent after 2016.
Oh hey, there’s a reference point for what the Reds want. They weren’t satisfied with Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Carlos Asuaje and Logan Allen from Boston. Margot is a top-50 guy, Guerra is a top-100 guy. Asuaje is interesting and Allen has a chance. The Padres accepted this package, and even though Boston is on the hook for either $25 million over the next two years or $37 million over the next three, they get three years of team control on Craig Kimbrel instead of one year of control for Chapman. Considering the salaries (Chapman should earn $13 million in his final year of arbitration this year), Kimbrel looks like a better buy than Chapman, at least as far as I can tell.
Jeff Sullivan did the hard work on this over at FanGraphs last week. You should read that. But if you don’t, I’ll just let you know that he calculates the kind of surplus value that Chapman is likely to produce next season and and concludes that that value is worth, say, a prospect ranked in the 10-15 range in baseball, plus maybe a throw-in guy. This is far lighter than what the Red Sox gave San Diego. This would be, maybe, Braden Shipley or Aaron Blair. Maybe it’s Archie Bradley and another kind of relevant guy. This would not be Shipley and Dury or Blair and Drury or something similar.
The Reds aren’t being reasonable – at least that’s how it appears. Arizona does need relief help, but paying Cincinnati’s price, as it stands now, doesn’t sound like a good idea. There are other guys on the market that they can target who’ll cost less and offer more team control. Deals for A.J. Ramos and Will Smith in the Offseason Plan are a couple of examples of that. Maybe they’re light and you have to add more than we’ve suggested. At least in those cases you’re getting two or three years of control, not just one.
That’s why we didn’t trade for Aroldis Chapman. Yes, he’s elite, but that doesn’t mean that he the right guy for Arizona. There are presumably other options available, or who could be made available, that will give them upgrades at a reduced cost and provide them more control. Maybe it’s not the big splash that will resonate with the fans (Woo-hoo, Will Smith! Oh wait, not the actor…), but it is the baseball-smart type of move that provides quality without a blatant overpay. The Diamondbacks can’t afford that.
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