Mark Sheldon of MLB.com 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.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.