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. 

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.