Why Trading Aroldis Chapman Would Be The Cincinnati Reds’ Best Move


Sep 20, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) throws to a St. Louis Cardinals batter during the eighth inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Reds 8-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

As fans of the Cincinnati Reds waited for the team to do something, anything, during the Baseball Winter Meetings on Tuesday, rumors surrounding the club took an unexpected turn.  While it’s been an almost foregone conclusion that the Reds would have to trade a starter to get some help in the lineup, Joe Frisaro at the Fish Pond reports that Cincinnati is now listening to offers for closer Aroldis Chapman, which should make Cincy fans smile.  Here are three reasons why trading Chapman would be the best move the Reds could make this winter.

Chapman Has Limited Value as a Closer

Actually, every closer has limited value unless he toils for a team that regularly takes leads into the eighth and ninth innings, and the Reds are simply not good enough right now to do that consistently. Chapman is darn near unhittable, but he only pitched 54 innings in 2014, and it’s not that hard to find someone who can get most of those same outs for a lot less than the $8 million or so that Chapman will make in 2015. He is a luxury that does not fit with the reality of the 2015 Cincinnati Reds.

These Reds Need Their Starters

The Reds finished fifth in the NL in runs allowed in 2014, and that wasn’t because they had Chapman at the back end of their bullpen.  It was because they had one awesome ace (Johnny Cueto) and four stalwarts behind him in the rotation.  Take any of those away in 2014, and the offense that finished 13th in the NL in runs score will be that much more exposed.  That is to say, if the Reds can beef up their lineup without jettisoning a starter, they might have a shot at competing in 2015.

Someone Will Overpay for Chapman

Even with that $8-million+ price tag, Chapman is under team control for two more years, he’ll be just 27 next season and he is a marvel to watch play.  A team with dreams of World Series glory and the need for a closer — a team much like the Boston Red Sox, perhaps — might just give the Reds a return for Chapman that would be hard to turn down.  The Reds could possibly land Yoenis Cespedes AND a player for the future.

Although four of their starting pitchers will turn into pumpkins after 2015, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Reds have to trade them now, especially if they think they can compete in 2015.  Aroldis Chapman is about as exciting as it gets on a baseball mound these days, but he’s there for such a scant few moments each week that he can’t help the team as much as any of their starters can.

Trading Chapman would allow the Reds to keep their workhorses together for just a bit longer while also bringing in some punch to help make the late innings mean something.  Of course, they’d have to find a closer, but there’s never a lack of stud arms that can get three outs.