Daily Dose: Busy day in Atlanta

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Wednesday was a busy day for Atlanta, as the Braves released a Hall of
Famer, pulled off a big trade, and announced plans to call up their top
prospect over the weekend. Tom Glavine tossed six shutout innings in a
rehab start Tuesday and said afterward that he was ready to rejoin the
rotation, but instead the Braves cut the 305-game winner loose
Wednesday and prepped for the Tommy Hanson era.

Glavine would’ve been due a $1 million roster bonus and also could
have earned $2.5 million for 90 days on the team, but that money will
now go to Nate McLouth after Atlanta acquired him from Pittsburgh just
hours later for Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton, and Jeff Locke. While
that package represents solid value for the Pirates, it’s odd that
they’d build the deal around a center fielder like Hernandez.

Hernandez projects as a possible leadoff man in time, but has
limited upside and the Pirates already have a long-term center fielder
in Andrew McCutchen. In fact, they called McCutchen up immediately
after trading McLouth and the 22-year-old will play every day. His bat
may not be an asset yet after hitting .291/.367/.424 at Triple-A, but
he swiped 48 bases in 210 games there and offers strong defense.

For the Braves, bringing in McLouth a day after demoting Jordan
Schafer back to Triple-A represents a huge upgrade offensively. His
glove is incredibly overrated, but McLouth has hit .268/.353/.482 while
going 52-for-56 swiping bases over the past three years. Adding him
without giving up one of the organization’s best 3-4 prospects is a
no-brainer move for the Braves given their weak outfield situation.

Meanwhile, the team’s top prospect and arguably the best pitching
prospect in all of baseball will be joining the rotation Saturday
instead of Glavine. While cutting Glavine when he was ready to pitch
again is likely tough for fans to take, Hanson is simply a better
pitcher right now after posting a 1.50 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 66.1
innings at Triple-A, and Atlanta still has lots of rotation depth to
fall back on.

While the Braves hog all the headlines for a day, here are some other notes from around baseball …

* In other prospect news, the White Sox are calling up 2008 first
rounder Gordon Beckham, which is interesting given that Ozzie Guillen
explained a few days ago that “if we have Beckham here, we’re in
trouble.” Apparently they’re in trouble, or at least tired of getting
horrible production from second and third base. Beckham has hit
.316/.371/.509 as a pro and went 10-for-23 in a brief stint at
Triple-A.

* Phil Hughes went 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA and 21/3 K/BB ratio during
his last three starts, but the Yankees demoted him to the bullpen
anyway Wednesday to make room in the rotation for Chien-Ming Wang. Wang
will be limited to 75-80 pitches in his Thursday start against the
Rangers after allowing two runs in eight innings of relief work since
coming back from the disabled list.

AL Quick Hits: Kevin Youkilis exited Wednesday’s game after Josh
Anderson ran over his ankle … Jeff Niemann tossed a two-hit shutout
Wednesday, striking out nine Royals … Asdrubal Cabrera is expected to
miss 2-4 weeks with a separated shoulder, moving Jhonny Peralta back to
shortstop … Cliff Lee turned in his 10th straight Quality Start with
eight innings of one-run ball Wednesday night … Jered Weaver racked up
a career-high 10 strikeouts while allowing one run over seven innings
Wednesday … Andy Pettitte lost Wednesday for the first time since April
26, giving up four runs and six walks in five innings … After being
bashed around for eight runs Wednesday, Brian Bannister is 1-3 with a
7.86 ERA since starting 3-0 … Josh Beckett had a no-hitter through 7.2
innings Wednesday, but failed to record the third out … Mark Teixeira
was scratched from the lineup Wednesday with a bruised ankle … Anthony
Swarzak predictably ran out of magic pixie dust Wednesday, coughing up six runs in four innings.

NL Quick Hits: Randy Johnson’s bid for victory No. 300 was
postponed by rain Wednesday … Brandon Webb (shoulder) threw from flat
ground Wednesday and reported no problems … Carlos Beltran (stomach
virus) was in the lineup before Wednesday’s game was postponed, but
Jose Reyes (calf) suffered a setback in his rehab and is no longer due
off the disabled list when eligible Friday … Jorge Cantu went deep
Wednesday for the first time in 25 games and Brandon Phillips stole his
first bases in over a month … Scott Hairston’s breakout was put on hold
Wednesday when a biceps strain sent him to the DL … Kyle Lohse exited
in the third inning Wednesday, aggravating his forearm problem … Hunter
Pence went 4-for-5 with a homer Wednesday, driving in his first runs
since May 21 … Sammy Sosa formally retired Wednesday by saying: “I will
calmly wait for my introduction to the Hall of Fame” and “will not
allow anyone to tarnish what I did on the field.”

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.