The GM meetings in Florida are over. Note:

  • The San Diego Padres traded their shut-down closer, Craig Kimbrel, to the Boston Red Sox for four prospects.

These two facts are related, perhaps tightly. It was reported by many that the Red Sox were an aggressive suitor for Chapman. Given the source of the infamous “by this weekend” rumors (Peter Gammons) it wouldn’t be a surprise his information came from the Red Sox organization. Boston was a great match for the Reds since they have a deep system of position player prospects. They also have a new GM with a track record of overpaying for veteran ninth-inning security (ask Joe Nathan). If ever there was a situation where the Reds could hope for a blockbuster package for Chapman, that was it.

To be sure, Kimbrel and Chapman were different commodities because of their contracts. Kimbrel has two guaranteed years remaining, plus a team option third year at $13 million. Chapman, on the other hand, will be a free agent at the end of 2016.

The Reds might have lost out because the Red Sox had a substantial preference for a long-term arrangement. But it still comes down to the competing offers. Chapman would have come cheaper than Kimbrel, who cost a lot, and the Red Sox could have used the year to develop or acquire another arm to close. Multi-year contracts are a huge risk with hard-throwing pitchers (again, ask Joe Nathan). Despite the contract length differences, the Reds had a persuasive case to make.

Here’s the rub. How much less were the Reds asking for Chapman?

At last July’s trade deadline, reports indicated the Reds expected a huge return – one elite plus two “better than average” prospects for Chapman. If they were still asking for that kind of package, it’s no surprise they lost out to the Padres. Despite how unreasonable that seems, no close follower of the Reds would be shocked to learn it. The Reds front office has overvalued Chapman’s role for years. They have judged his value as closer to be greater than as an ace starting pitcher. From that standpoint, you can see why they would expect a trade return equal to or better than a top-of-rotation starter.

Compounding that mistaken valuation, other closers – Mark Melancon (PIT), Jonathan Papelbon (WAS), Andrew Miller (NYY), Brad Boxberger (TBR) and Ken Giles (PHI) – may be on the market. With the expanding legion of stats-minded decision-makers in baseball’s front offices, how many organizations are still willing to sacrifice major assets for 70 innings of relief pitching, no matter how established and electrifying?

After the Kimbrel trade, Dick Williams, the new GM for the Reds didn’t inspire a lot of confidence or negotiating strength. He gave this We Feels statement to Mark Sheldon:

“We didn’t feel like we missed out on a deal with them (Red Sox). There will be other teams that are interested in Chapman. I don’t control who is out there or who will be interested. We feel that there are other offers. We feel that he’s the best closer out there, so [we] hope good stuff can happen.”

The first sentence is disingenuous. No one believes that Boston wasn’t a potential trade partner for Chapman. That lack of candor is no way to build trust and support among the fans. The rest of Williams’ statement – in future tense – implies other teams haven’t yet shown an interest in Chapman. That’s also hard to believe. Wouldn’t it strengthen the Reds’ hand to create the impression there IS (not will be) demand for Chapman? The claims that he doesn’t “control who is out there” and “we feel that there are other offers” are loose and sounds like an excuse for failure. Again, it smacks of weakness.

How about this instead:

“We were working on a promising deal with Boston, but in the end they opted for three years of team control instead of one. But the Red Sox are just one team. Others are rightly interested in Chapman because he’s the best closer out there and can make a huge difference for a contending team. The market for him remains strong.” 

Public statements like the one from Dick Williams above do confirm the Reds’ plan to trade Aroldis Chapman. In fact, they apparently have prioritized it to the front of their offseason agenda. That’s a step in the right direction.

While the GM meetings may be over, the fact is the Reds could make a deal to trade Chapman at any moment. Yes, they missed out on Boston, there’s one less team out there shopping. If you’re looking for a silver lining, the Red Sox-Padres deal did set a high price in the elite closer market. And that market now goes through Joe Nuxhall Way.

Whatever team acquires Chapman will make a qualifying offer to him at the end of 2016. So they will receive a compensatory draft pick when Chapman declines the QO to enter free agency. That means the Reds are offering Chapman and a good draft pick. It’s still reasonable to expect two strong prospects in return – essentially one for Chapman’s unmatched left arm and one for the pick.

54 Responses

  1. larry papania

    I was really disappointed when Boston chose to sign Kimbrel instead of Chapman. I think Washington, Seattle, Toronto,,,Houston, Texas the Cubs and even the Cardinals (yuck) have the means and prospects to trade for Chapman. Minn. and Detroit are longshot possibilities. I hope we move Chapman before the end of the month.

    • Dirtfarmer

      Washington should be the Reds trading partner for Chapman.If Williams could get T Turner ss(aaa) and. V Robles of(a) and Stevenson Of (a) that would be a great deal for Chapman .He would be reunited with the man who wasted a20 million dollar arm by making him a closer.

      • RedsFaninPitt

        AZ would never trade Trea Turner straight up for Chapman let alone additional prospects. WJ is over valuing Chapman and seemingly valuing him now as though he is the ace starter that he never insisted that he become. While there may be some decent prospects received in return for Chapman, I think most will be at least a little disappointed with the return. Just imagine what the Reds would be getting if he were a starting ace – even with just 1 year left on his contract. The org. has hurt itself many times over as well as Chapman due to mismanaging his talent.

  2. larry papania

    I forgot one of the leading candidates, Arizona. The Dodgers won’t trade young prospects, the Angels have a barren farm system and Houston Street, and the Yankees seem to want to trim their payroll.

    • RFM

      Arizona has hinted that they’re no longer interested in Chapman, for whatever that’s worth. Although who knows how reliable a source that was. Chapman never made sense for them.

      • larry papania

        I had not heard that. Good point. Thanks for the info.

  3. doctor

    regardless what happens, I will happy when this trade story arc is over. ha. of course the next story narrative liklely will be the reds “folded and did not get enough” or “waited too long and missed out”. Here’s to looking toward the Winter Meetings and lots of Reds trade rumors.

  4. tct

    I think some teams may value relievers a bit more than they had previously thanks to the Royals success. But this was a ridiculous overpay by Dombrowski and I don’t think it sets the market for closers any more than the Samarzdja/ Addison Russell trade set the market for starters. The value in relievers is in having a deep bullpen. One guy won’t make a huge difference.

    If Boston offered anything close to this for Chapman and the Reds turned it down, then they are foolish.

    One possibility is that Boston offered a similar package based around the two top 100 prospects, but the Reds turned it down because they wanted someone more major league ready. Both of those guys still have a little way to go, and they may have been looking for someone like Suarez or Finnegan who already had gotten their feet wet and was ready, or almost ready. Again, this is foolish. They need as much talent as possible.

    • ohiojimw

      We know that Dick Williams told Mark Sheldon that the Reds wanted MLB ready return for Chapman:

      Based on the comments in the above article, it would seem very likely that the RSox were offering the Reds some subset of the four guys they eventually traded for Kimbrell.

      In the next several days to weeks we are going to find out whether it is getting MLB ready talent for Chapman or getting his projected $12+M projected 2016 salary off the books that rates as the highest priority for the org.

      One possibility to keep an eye out for is that them Reds will bundle Chapman with one of their minor league pitching prospects to bring back an MLB ready player and a lesser prospect.

  5. vegastypo

    Jim Bowden on MLB satellite radio just opined quite confidently that Chapman and Frazier will be dealt before the winter meetings in Nashville. He didn’t cite sources. His air of certainty about Frazier surprised me.

    • WVRedlegs

      Remember, Redsfest is the week before the Winter Meetings I believe. That should make things a bit more interesting.

  6. Scott Carter

    I too was disappointed that the Red Sox trade did not develop. I felt that Margot who has had a pretty decent OBP throughout the minors would be a great addition. If he could have been paired with any one of the other three for Chapman, that would be a good trade, if they could have gotten two plus Margot that would have been a great trade.

  7. WVRedlegs

    It is a shame that it has come to this with Chapman. But the pieces obtained from his trade are part of the near future. And quite possibly essential pieces.
    I am holding out hope for Houston or Washington now.
    For the new bullpen, the Reds can sign free agent reliever Tony Sipp to be the closer at about 40% of what they would have paid Chapman. Lorenzen, Finnegan, and some other releiver that steps up to handle the 7th and 8th innings if that is how the roles will be in the bullpen, by inning instead of situation. Then round out the pen with Hoover, Jumbo and Cingrani.

    • lwblogger2

      Most will say that the Reds shouldn’t sign any free-agent at this time and just pocket the money, lose 100 games with AAAA players, and get a high draft pick in 2016. It’s frustrating.

  8. RFM

    Regarding that first Dick Williams quote, the Reds have implied that they are looking for MLB ready hitting prospects, which Margot and others in the Kimbrel package aren’t. I think Williams was just stating that the players the Padres acquired were not the ones the Reds targeted. Fine. The Red Sox have lots of noteworthy young players and highly regarded prospects, it’s not like Margot was the only reasonable target.

    I’m funny that you attack him for being disingenuous, saying he should be honest to the fans, while also suggesting that he should be disingenuous about offers already received. Everyone knows Chapman is available. Everyone knows Chapman is likely to be moved. Everyone knows there is and will be demand for Chapman, regardless of the current status of negotiations and his destination being unclear. Williams’ statement, as well as your version, both got the same points across.

    The winter meetings in December have always seemed like the most likely time for a trade. That’s when Latos and Simon were moved last year. I’m not surprised, or disappointed, by the delay. It sounds like the Reds talked with many other teams about available players at the GM meetings, laying the groundwork, as they should’ve.

    • Steve Mancuso

      I wasn’t saying he should lie about interest in Chapman, rather that he should state it more accurately (strongly). You’re right that it probably doesn’t matter. To me, the loose wording is an indication that he’s new at giving public statements. Nothing more.

      • big5ed

        He ought to just say nothing. How does any PR pablum change anything? Everybody knows the Reds are going to move him, and it’s just a matter of what the others offer. None of us know diddly about other teams’ prospects, anyway, so . . .

      • ohiojimw

        +100, perhaps the one most important thing DW could copy from WJ is to keep his mouth shut publicly about possible/ hoped for/ pending deals. The only time to behave differently is when one is purposely planting disinformation. And who knows, maybe DW was doing just this in his comments to Sheldon to try to get a little more out of some suitor.

  9. sultanofswaff

    I’d love to see the Reds trade Chapman for an everyday CF, quickly followed by another trade to acquire one of the cost controlled closers mentioned above. I would think a starting pitching prospect along the lines of Romano/Lamb/Moscot would be enough. Giles from Philly would be a great pickup. 5 years of an elite reliever for 5 years of a back end starter or two? Seems fair.

  10. WVRedlegs

    ESPN’s Jayson Stark says the Reds want MLB ready talent for Chapman and Frazier.

    • larry papania

      Yes, that’s pretty much a given.

  11. reaganspad

    great Press release Steve.

    Is it a conflict of interest in MLB for you to have this column and continue your role as the new Reds GM?

    I sure hope not as I would like to see you doing both…

  12. Chuck Schick

    Perhaps the market for a 10-12 million closer, a year away from free agency isn’t what many anticipated.

    • lwblogger2

      Or at least isn’t what the Reds FO anticipated.

  13. sezwhom

    SF Giants are still interested in acquiring Chapman. They wanted him badly at the trade deadline last year but the Reds asking price was too high.

    • DHud

      I don’t think the Giants have a whole lot to offer

  14. Jeremy Conley

    The point Steve makes about the Chapman QO is a good one. Players traded mid-season can’t be offered a QO, which lowers the value of players traded at the deadline to the teams that acquire them. In Chapman’s case, the fact that he can be given a QO next year should increase his trade value.

    As far as Boston goes, it was a good option but far from the only one. I’m not too worried that they didn’t move him this past weekend. I still can’t help but think that DC makes too much sense.

    The biggest question left for me is will the Reds try to target a specific position (probably outfield) or will they take the best overall offer?

    • whodeythinkgonnabeatthemredlegs

      Thats why we should have traded him at the last deadline so he still could have been give a QO after 2016.

      • Shchi Cossack

        As long as a player is on the roster for the entire season (opening day through the last game), the player is eligible for a QO and the team is eligible for a comp pick if the player rejects the QO. In regards to the QO, there is no difference in trading Chapman during the 2015 season or during the 2015/2016 off season.

      • whodeythinkgonnabeatthemredlegs

        Right I get that, I guess I’m just still sad that we didnt pull the trigger at the deadline

      • Shchi Cossack

        We agree there. I think the return prior to the trade deadline last season, with a full additional season available, will probably trump any return they get this off season. But I guess we’ll just have to wait on those results.

      • ohiojimw

        Frazier has been so consistently inconsistent aka streaky, that the delta on what they can get July 15 versus now versus July 16 probably depends greatly on what he has done in 2016 prior to the deadline and how he is trending at the deadline

  15. Jeremy Conley

    I’ve read that the Yankees are interested, though they did sign Andrew Miller last offseason. If they did get into it they have an outfield prospect named Aaron Judge who is 23 and has a minor league line of .281/.375/.467. He’s 23 and struggled after a promotion to AAA last year.

  16. CP

    The Wilhelmsen for Martin deal was interesting. Martin is kind of a comp for B-Ham if B-Ham doesn’t improve.

  17. Chipford

    From The Onion, headline: “Chapman Trade Completed, Mancuso to Retire”

    On the heels of the big Aroldis Chapman trade to Arizona, fearless Redleg Nation leader Steve Mancuso announced his retirement. “It’s time to hit pause. Maybe I’ll be back … it really depends on Finnegan’s role in 2017.” Numerous Redleg Nation members took to the proverbial streets, calling for Steve’s immediate return, noting a possible hidden plan to bat Joey Votto sixth next season.

    In potentially related news, the Diamondback blog Azsnakepit reveals a “Meve Stevcuso” posting lamenting Dave Stewart’s position that the plan is to start with Chapman in the bullpen.

  18. Scot Lykins

    I believe trading Chapman will not greatly affect the Reds imposition as bottom dwellers. This team will have a hole in the closer role, completing shamble that is the bullpen. I like Jockey’s apparent position to first concentrate on arms, based on his prior moves.

    Moving Frazier could get us quality in the bullpen or starting pitching. Moving Bruce, Phillips, or Votto will likely be a wash.

  19. james garrett

    Chapman will get traded its just a matter of time.He is the best at what he does and some contender will pay to get him.In fact if its a team with deep pockets they probably will over pay for him.Teams know you don’t get may chances to win a title and you better have a good pen anchored by a great closer.Now is the time to get him if you think you can get to the series.

  20. Hotto4Votto

    Had some thoughts bouncing around, this seems like a good spot for them to land.

    Looking forward, 2018, the year when all but two of our larger contracts will be off the books (Votto, Bailey) and most of our “near ready” or “close” prospects should arrive. While it would be nice to be in contention for a playoff spot in 2017, I really believe this is the year we should look to really be back to competing for the division. We should have the money to address any holes and we should also have the young talent needed to contend moving forward.

    Barring any trades (or unforeseen circumstances) this is what the 2018 should look like:
    Locks: Votto, Mes, Suarez, Bailey, Disco, Iglesias, Hoover, Hamilton, Barnhart
    Probables: YRod, Garrett (out of options) Blandino, Ervin, Winker, Stephenson, Reed, Lamb, Moscot, Finnegan, Lorenzen, Diaz, Weiss.
    Possible: Cingrani, Waldrop (out of options), DeJesus, Duvall, Travieso, Romano, Mella (this could go on…)

    One could argue that the Reds could form a fairly strong team from this group of players/prospects alone, but that argument would rely on almost all of those prospects playing near their ceiling.

    But still a hypothetical line up of:
    Blandino (2B)
    Winker (LF)
    Votto (1B)
    Mes (C)
    Ervin (RF)
    Suarez (SS)
    Duvall/DeJesus (3B)
    Hamilton (CF)

    And Starting Rotation: Bailey, Stephenson, Iglesias, Disco, Garrett
    with Finnegan, Lorenzen, Diaz, Hoover, Cingrani/Lamb, Weiss, Moscot in the pen.

    There are some holes (3B, CF/RF possibly), but there is also some depth and talent.

    There’s more good news in my opinion as well. Votto, Mes, Bailey, and Iglesias will be the only guaranteed contracts on the books. That should equal out to just over 64 million. Suarez, DeJesus, Diaz, Disco, Barnhart would be entering their first ARB year. Hamilton and Cingrani year 2, and Hoover year 3. (If the Reds keep Mattheus, Villarreal, Contreras around they would be ARB eligible as well). Everyone else on the roster would still be on rookie level contracts. The Reds could move or non-tender Hoover/Cingrani to save even more money, as they should be able to fill the pen internally.

    I realize it’s hard to get too excited two years out, but the Reds should find themselves in a good position.

    And it can get better. The Reds will look return value from Frazier and Chapman, and possibly Bruce and Phillips (although the latter two will return less, or maybe just salary relief in Phillips case). The Reds will also have high draft picks, should be 3 top 50 picks, and the ability to add talent in the Rule V draft this year.

    Finding an everyday 3B, and someone who can play OF and possibly lead off would be a good place to start. The Reds have plenty of avenues before them to address these needs. It may be somewhat bleak now as the sun sets on our last playoff level team, but a new group should be on the horizon.

    • CP

      I agree with the three potential weak spots (3B is obviously going to have to be addressed), but 2B is another one.

      That lineup looks exceptionally weak hitting and the defense looks like a big downgrade since you are replacing Cozart, Frazier, Phillips and Bruce with question marks.

      The scary thing is that is a really best case scenario if the Reds do everything internally. I don’t think you can count on Winker, Erwin, and Blandino to all “get it” right away. Mesoraco didn’t and the only prospect in the bunch that is of similar caliber is Winker.

      Still, the Reds have some reinforcements coming and that is good to see. The Reds don’t have to do everything internally, they’ll likely have some major payroll coming off the books with some of the vets coming off the books. They can fill in the gaps with free agents and the young guys they hopefully get back for Frazier, Bruce, Chapman, etc.

      What the Reds really need to happen is to have someone like Yorman Rodriguez figure things out at the MLB level.

      • Hotto4Votto

        It certainly could be weak hitting, especially at first. Hopefully, if all progresses accordingly, they will all get a taste of MLB by September (maybe before for Winker), and have most of 2017 to make adjustments. I am encouraged by the plate discipline shown by Winker, Ervin, and Blandino, as plate discipline is one skill I don’t think you can teach, either you have the eye or you don’t. Ervin also has shown to be adept on the base paths and has some power potential. Blandino showed off good power potential in the FSL this year, and that’s a tough place to hit.

        You’re absolutely right the Reds don’t have to do everything internally. That line up looks a lot better if you add a potential quality lead off hitter from the OF and a 3B with pop. Those are the two positions I would look to fill from Chapman and Frazier, and the Reds should be able to pull at least one solid prospect back for each. They may find something in the Rule V draft as well. Then there are FA’s and trading from the surplus of pitching prospects (as it stands now I don’t have Reed projected in the rotation by 2018…and Travieso would likely be in his 2nd full season at AAA, same with Romano, and that’s after moving guys to the pen).

        2B is a problem if Blandino doesn’t progress. At the same time, OF is only an big issue if all three of Hamilton, Ervin, and YRod don’t pan out. The Reds should have the means to address these situations as they arise, as long as they don’t do anything silly (extensions for aging players).

    • TR

      The cognizant all seem to feel that 2016 is a wash before it has been played. As one of the non-cognizant, I hope the Reds will be competitive and not stuck in 4th. or 5th. place by July.

      • Jeremy Conley

        Everyone is hoping that the pitchers develop fast, but there’s hope and there’s reality. Do you think a team with a rotation of Iglesias, Desclafani, half a year of Bailey coming off of surgery, ????, ????, is going to be competitive? Even if the whole offense plays better than expected, that’s still a lot of games to cover.

      • TR

        Do you think a team with a rotation of Iglesias, Desclafani, half a year of Bailey coming off surgery ??????? plus the off-season trades and maybe a free agent or two is going to be competitive? I assume you don’t.

  21. WVRedlegs

    I am certainly glad I am not an Atlanta Braves fan right now. Talk about blowing a roster up. Total demolision. I hope the Reds decide to re-build around a core of players like Votto, Mesoraco, Bailey, and maybe Bruce. Atlanta says they are buliding to compete in 2017 in their new stadium. 2017 is unrealistic with what the Braves are doing. The Braves Way is going to be very painful.
    The Reds sort of say the same thing, 2017. I was hopeful to be gunning for .500 in 2016. I hope the Reds Way is going to be better than the Braves Way.

    • Jeremy Conley

      The further a team goes down the wrong path, the worse the rebuild. If the Reds had traded a few players in 2013 and 2014, they probably could have kept their “window” open. They didn’t and so now they have to rebuild a little. The Braves went further down that road and so they’re starting from scratch. If they trade Freeman, that’s really going to hurt.

  22. Michael

    I read the comment on the Chapman comment as “We don’t feel like we missed out on a deal with Boston” ala Boston didn’t offer the same package for one year or Chapman

  23. Playtowin

    We will be disappointed in what the Reds get for Chapman. He is 70 innings, $13 million, for one year. Reds get one decent prospect or 2 average prospects… 5 star prospect. Frazier will get 2 decent prospects. Bruce will get 1 decent and 1 slightly below average prospect. Reds and Brewers battle for 4th place. F-Rod going to the Tigers takes another potential home for Chapman out of the game.

  24. vegastypo

    Just saw a headline that the Astros are ‘hell-bent to get a closer.’

    Sure seems like an obvious fit, if Walt/kid weren’t asking for the moon, which apparently they are. Just funny that the Reds so limited Chapman’s value to their own team, then expect such a high return from other teams.

  25. Shchi Cossack

    Good article over at Fangraphs by Jeff Sullican regarding Chapman’s value.

    Jeff’s bottom line was that a Chapman trade can reasonably be expected to fetch “a non-elite pitching prospect, or a position-player prospect ranked around the middle of the top-100 … what should be immediately clear is that the Reds can’t expect to receive an elite prospect for Chapman alone. At least, they shouldn’t; you never know how another human will act. “

    • Uglystrike

      In my unprofessional opinion the fangraphs blog has the value set way too low, but the Krimbrel trade was on the other high end. I would have taken the Red Sox’s offer, though it really did not provide the immediate players we need. I would keep him for the fangraphs idea of value, give QO at the end of the year and go from there.

      In my opinion the fair deal would be something like a top 50 fielding prospect that is 2 years or less away or 2 of a team’s top ten fielding prospects that are 2-3 years away.

  26. vegastypo

    Jim Duquette at thew this out there among the trades he would like to see.

    Reds trade closer Aroldis Chapman to the Astros for OF Daz Cameron and RHP Michael Feliz
    The Astros have been hunting for a lights-out closer since the Trade Deadline and Chapman is the perfect fit. However, he has only one year left on his contract, which means the package would not be the same quantity as the one the Padres just received for Kimbrel, who has three years left on his deal.
    But the quality would need to be matched and that is why it would cost the Astros Cameron (No. 3 prospect) and Feliz (No. 6). Cameron could have been a top-five pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, but he fell to the Astros at No. 37 because of signability concerns. Like his father, Mike, he’s got tremendous talent. Feliz is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, and has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. If he can’t refine his secondary stuff and become an impact starter, he could be scary coming out of the bullpen.