Chapman is a good gamble for the Reds

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Thumbnail image for aroldis chapman cuba.jpgJon Heyman tweets his initial reaction to the Cincinnati Reds’ unexpected signing of Aroldis Chapman:

I think the Reds are cracked giving Aroldis Chapman $30 mil. There, I said it.

I disagree. In fact, I think that reaction — and many others like it you’ll see in the next 24 hours — is borne more of shock that a small revenue team like the Reds did the deal instead of one of the usual big name free agent suspects. I’m kind of shocked myself, but just because this is unexpected doesn’t mean it’s “cracked.” Remember, Heyman is the same writer who had no problem throwing around Stephen Strasburg’s alleged $50 million demand last summer. He never said that amount was “cracked.”

Yes, the number — $30 million — seems high, but I have a hard time seeing as a bad move.  It’s six years, with the money stretched out over an even longer period than that according to John Fay at the Cincy Enquirer. He’s young and electric. If he does half of what some people seem to think he can do, he’ll be a steal at that price. Even if he’s a spectacular bust he’ll have cost the Reds $16 million less than Francisco Cordero, $6.5 million less than Aaron Harang and only a tad more than Brandon Phillips. Ed Wade has spent $25 million on Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers and Pedro Feliz this winter. How is this so bad?

I think there are two basic things to keep in mind with this deal: (1) Compared to most other deals in even today’s relatively conservative free agent market, this one has way more upside and a more or less survivable downside; and (2) this transaction means way more to the Reds and their fans than, say, the Angels or Red Sox or even the Blue Jays signing Chapman would. Cincinnati is a great baseball town that risks losing its religion if the team doesn’t do something to give the fans hope, and a potential 2011 rotation of Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Homer Baily and Aroldis Chapman gives fans a lot of reason to hope.

Good move by the Reds. 

Report: Mariners sign Juan Nicasio to a two-year deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mariners have signed pitcher Juan Nicasio to a two-year contract, pending a physical.

Nicasio, 31, spent last season with the Pirates, Phillies, and Cardinals, putting up an aggregate 2.61 ERA with a 72/20 K/BB ratio in 72 1/3 innings. He appeared in 76 games, leading the National League.

Nicasio will help bolster the Mariners’ bullpen behind closer Edwin Diaz. It’s not known exactly what role he’ll have but it seems reasonable to assume he’ll handle mostly the seventh inning while Nick Vincent will set up for Diaz. Nicasio does have plenty of starting experience so he could also spot start in a pinch.