Daily Dose: Wagner dealt, Santana done

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Tuesday’s headlines were dominated by the Mets, who dealt Billy Wagner to the Red Sox, put Johan Santana on the disabled list in preparation for season-ending elbow surgery, and revealed that J.J. Putz has also been shut down for the year following a setback in his recovery from elbow problems. None of that qualifies as good news, exactly, but some of it is “not horrible” and at this point Mets fans will take even that.
Wagner changed his mind minutes before the Tuesday afternoon deadline to accept a trade to Boston, so New York dumped his remaining salary and $8 million option or $1 million buyout for next season while picking up two players to be named later. To get Wagner’s approval the Red Sox agreed to decline his 2010 option, but will retain the right to offer him arbitration and receive draft-pick compensation if he leaves.
Few teams can afford to drop $3 million on a 38-year-old reliever who returned from Tommy John surgery a week ago and at most the Red Sox could get a dozen or so innings out of Wagner, but he’s certainly a nice luxury item to take a flier on and has looked very capable of making a big impact through two post-surgery appearances. Plus, the draft picks may prove more valuable than the two PTBNLs surrendered.
Meanwhile, fears about Santana needing to go under the knife proved accurate, but rather than anything career-threatening he merely needed bone spurs removed from his elbow. Santana clearly hasn’t been himself of late, managing just 60 strikeouts in his last 101 innings, but underwent the same procedure years ago in Minnesota and bounced back just fine. He should be at full strength in time for spring training.
While the Mets place their 20th player of the season on the DL, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Dexter Fowler has been put on the disabled list after fouling a ball off his right knee during Monday night’s marathon win over the Giants, and with Carlos Gonzalez also sidelined by a hand injury the Rockies called up 24-year-old prospect Eric Young Jr. from Triple-A. Young’s father swiped 465 bases over 15 seasons in the majors and Junior is the same type of player, racking up 58 steals in 119 games at Triple-A.
* Chris Davis returned from the minors Tuesday and the Rangers reportedly plan to give him regular starts at Hank Blalock’s expense. Blalock has hit .199 with a putrid 39/3 K/BB ratio in the second half, so there’s nothing to lose by giving Davis another shot. He’ll always strike out a ton with poor batting averages, but Davis hit .327 in 44 games at Triple-A and is much better than he showed prior to the demotion.
AL Quick Hits: Zack Greinke racked up a Royals record 15 strikeouts in eight innings of two-run ball Tuesday, dropping his ERA to an AL-best 2.43 … Joba Chamberlain allowed seven runs on eight singles, one double, and three walks Tuesday … Ichiro Suzki (calf) sat out his second straight game Tuesday and figures to sit Wednesday too … Jake Peavy (ankle) said Tuesday that he might not be ready to join the White Sox’s rotation this weekend because of elbow soreness … Jacoby Ellsbury swiped his 55th base Tuesday to set a Red Sox record … Carl Crawford (back) is expected to remain sidelined until at least Friday … Jeremy Bonderman (shoulder) tossed two scoreless innings and was reportedly clocked in the mid-90s in a rehab appearance Monday at Triple-A … Jon Lester turned in a Quality Start for the 11th time in 12 tries Tuesday … Delmon Young was 4-for-5 with a walk-off single Tuesday, giving him 15 RBIs in 19 games this month after totaling just 27 through the end of July.
NL Quick Hits: Stephen Strasburg is expected to make his pro debut in the Arizona Fall League … After missing six straight games Freddy Sanchez (shoulder) was put on the disabled list Tuesday, leaving Eugenio Velez to fill in … Carlos Zambrano was rocked for eight runs in Tuesday’s return from the DL … Jordan Schafer will miss the remainder of the season following wrist surgery … Albert Pujols drove in the lone run Tuesday as Adam Wainwright out-dueled Wandy Rodriguez in a 1-0 game … Hiroki Kuroda (concussion) is slated to throw a bullpen session Wednesday, but remains weeks from returning … Andrew McCutchen delivered a walk-off homer Tuesday to hand Brad Lidge his ninth blown save … Jimmy Rollins went deep twice Tuesday, giving him seven homers this month … Gary Sheffield left Tuesday’s game with back tightness … Jake Fox got another start Tuesday as Alfonso Soriano (knee) remained sidelined … Joe Blanton turned in his 11th straight Quality Start on Tuesday.

The Marlins have made a “monster offer” for Kenley Jansen

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Chicago Cubs in the eighth inning of game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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OXON HILL, MD — The morning after Aroldis Chapman signed for a record $86 million, the Miami Marlins are reported to have made similarly lucrative offer to the other top free agent closer, Kenley Jansen.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo says that the Marlins have made “a monster offer” of five years and more than $80 million to Jansen. This despite the fact that the club is coming off of a 79-win season and, tragically, lost their top pitcher Jose Fernandez in a fatal boating accident, which will substantially harm their competitive prospects. While it seems like a stretch to say that the Yankees will compete for a playoff spot, thereby making such an historically large investment in a closer a bit suspect, the Marlins doing so is even more questionable.

Meanwhile, the Nationals are said to be interested in Jansen as well, though Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post says the Nats are “uncomfortable” with the financial commitment signing him would require.

Jansen most recently pitched for the Dodgers and there have been no reports that they’re totally out on him, but there has been nothing to suggest that they are pushing hard for him either.

Jansen, 29, finished this past season with 47 saves, a 1.83 ERA, and a 104/11 K/BB ratio in 68.2 innings. That’s not quite Aroldis Chapman good, but he seems poised to collect something close to Aroldis Chapman money.

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.