The Reds are likely to send Aroldis Chapman to the minors

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Chapman small.jpgMark Sheldon of says its almost certain that Aroldis Chapman is going to start the season in the minor leagues as his recent back spasms simply didn’t permit him to get in enough work in order to force his way into the competition for the fifth starter’s spot, which will be won by either Mike Leake or Travis Wood.

All of which is actually pretty good from the Reds’ perspective, as Champan’s contract has an incentive clause that transforms the $5 million he’d be owed for 2013 and 2014 into a bonus if he becomes arbitration-eligible after 2012. If he becomes arb-eligible after 2013, the $3 million he’d get for 2014 alone is a bonus. So, by delaying him until mid-to-late May the Reds will save the usual year’s worth of arbitration-derived salary, plus a couple of million on top of it. Which, if you’re the Reds, ain’t exactly hay.

As for the Reds’ fifth starter race, I don’t know much about either Mike Leake or Travis Wood, but I do like the line that Red Reporter dropped on Twitter last week: it’s hard to take a Leake when you’ve got Wood.

Miguel Cabrera, Dee Gordon win AL and NL batting titles, respectively

Miguel Cabrera
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Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera didn’t play in the Tigers’ season finale against the White Sox, but he has officially clinched the AL batting title with a .338 average following Sunday’s action. It’s Cabrera’s fourth batting title in his last five seasons.

Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon entered Sunday’s season finale with a bit more pressure. He was in a tight race with Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper for the NL batting title, trailing only by rounding to the fourth place, .3307 to .3306. Gordon went 3-for-4 in a loss to the Phillies while Harper went 1-for-4 in a loss to the Mets. As a result, Gordon officially won the NL batting title with a .330 average. It’s the first batting title of Gordon’s brief career. Hanley Ramirez was the Marlins’ last batting champion, doing so in 2009.

Report: Angels to announce Billy Eppler as new GM on Monday

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels are expected to announce Billy Eppler as their new general manager on Monday. Eppler had been serving as the assistant general manager with the Yankees.

Jerry DiPoto had been the Angels’ GM but he stepped down on July 1. DiPoto later joined the Red Sox in an advisory role, then was named the Mariners’ new GM last week.

The Angels lost to the Rangers in Sunday’s season finale, which eliminated them from contention for the second AL Wild Card spot. They finished 85-77. Most of their regulars are under contract for the 2016 season, but Eppler will have to decide whether to tender contracts to seven arbitration-eligible players while filling in the rest of the roster.