2:46 P.M.: Jeff Blair of the Toronto Globe and Mail is confirming that it is indeed the Reds. Given how late the Jays were in the hunt, they, and thus he, would probably be in a position to know. UPDATE: Jeff Passan, who had the original report, confirms as well.
1:56 P.M: Surprise! It looks like it’s the Reds. Passan first narrowed it down to an NL Central team and then adds that a flight left Ft. Lauderdale for Cincinnati this morning. A source tells Passan it’s a $30 mil. deal over five years. Stay tuned for confirmation.
12:42 P.M.: There’s a tweet circulating from someone claiming to be Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports that says the following:
Cuban LHP Aroldis
Chapman agrees to $30M deal with National League team, according to
source. Left Ft. Lauderdale airport this a.m. to sign.
I’m posting this with the caveat that the account was just created and people have been burned with similar reports in the past.
Just a little background while we wait on the validity of this report, the Blue Jays and Angels have emerged as the front-runners for the Cuban left-hander in recent weeks. The Marlins made an offer to Chapman, but hoped that South Florida, and not cash, could make the difference in negotiations. The Reds were floated as a possibility by Ken Rosenthal as recently as Friday.
Update: Apologies to Passan, as the account appears to be real. In a report for Yahoo! Sports, Passan has no update on the possible team, but writes that the Astros and Nationals sent their general managers to the workout for Houston last month. He also notes that the Mets and recently, the Reds have expressed interest in the 21-year-old southpaw.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.