About a month and a half ago, I talked about the situation involving the Reds moving Aroldis Chapman to the Cincinnati rotation. I felt the flame-throwing left-hander should have stayed as the team’s closer, but it was obvious what the organization’s decision was last winter, as they re-signed Jonathan Broxton to a three-year/$21 million deal. However, as we’re just two short weeks away from Opening Day, Chapman has said he’d rather close than be in the starting rotation.
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker is happy his hurler voiced his opinion, as he rarely does that to those who have decision-making power, and plans on speaking to the southpaw before any switch is made. On the other hand, GM Walt Jocketty is not as pleased, mentioning it’s not up to the players to decide how they want to be used.
The decision to move Chapman to the rotation didn’t make sense to me in the first place, especially since the Reds were a wildly successful team with him shutting the door in the ninth inning; he compiled a 5-5 record with a 1.51 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 38 saves (43 opportunities), and 122 strikeouts in 71.2 innings pitched for a 97-win club that were crowned NL Central Champions in 2012. In addition to that, their starting five in the rotation were solid, so they would have to bump one of those pitchers from the staff to make room for Chapman, as he’s due $5 million over the next three years ($10 million over the next three if you include his player option for 2015).
I’m happy to see Chapman voicing his opinion, but I have two problems with it. One is that he should have spoken up back in November when the decision was made for him to start training as a starting pitcher. I understand he may have wanted to give it a try this spring, but not once did we hear about Chapman’s opinion regarding the change. The other issue I have here is that he decided to tell the media his preference instead of talking privately with his manager. This is probably part of the reason why Jocketty didn’t sound please when asked about it.
A decision is forthcoming about whether or not Chapman will continue to be used as a starter, but I think it’s too late for the organizaiton to change their stance now. They made their decision on Aroldis and his role with the team moving forward so they could shape the rest of their off-season strategy, which is why they went out and re-signed Broxton for three years. If the Reds decide to move Chapman back to the closer’s role, they’ll now have an unhappy set-up man they’re paying $7 million per season.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Broxton; he didn’t mind being a set-up man last season because he was trying to re-establish himself after an injury, but he signed this three-year deal with the Reds to be their closer. I don’t see him making a big stink about getting bumped from his projected role (despite having a 0.00 ERA in 5 innings this spring), but I would imagine he wouldn’t be opposed to being sent elsewhere so he can have full control of the ninth inning.
Where could he possibly be traded to so late in the spring? Well, the Detroit Tigers are in the market for a closer since youngster Bruce Rondon has struggled a bit in camp. They are rumored to be intereted in Carlos Marmol from the Cubs, but Broxton would be a great fit in the Motor City, as he’s a proven closer that would fortify the bullpen of a playoff-caliber team. However, Marmol could be more attractive because he’s a free agent after this season; if Detroit truly feels Rondon is their future closer, they may not want to take on a contract that blocks Rondon’s path for the next three seasons.
The decision will come shortly, and I’m curious to see how the decision will impact both Chapman and Broxton moving forward.
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