Now that veteran left-hander Arthur Rhodes has officially signed with the Rangers, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that Aroldis Chapman will likely remain in the bullpen for 2011.
“I would think so, yeah,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “The plans are to keep Chapman in the bullpen right now. We’ll take a long look at Dontrelle Willis also.”
Jocketty said that he doesn’t plan to look outside the organization in order to fill the top left-handed reliever role, so while Willis, Bill Bray, Matt Maloney and Daniel Ray Herrera may also get auditions, Chapman should be considered the favorite.
Of course, the fireballing southpaw could provide much more value to the Reds as a starting pitcher, but he’s unlikely to get that chance, at least in the short-term, especially after he posted a 4.11 ERA and 76/40 K/BB ratio in 13 starts with Triple-A Louisville last season. He found his comfort zone after converting to a reliever down the stretch, first putting up a 2.40 ERA and a ridiculous 49/12 K/BB ratio over 30 innings with Louisville and then a 2.03 ERA and 19/5 K/BB ratio over 13 1/3 innings in his first taste of the big leagues.
I know what you’re thinking. Why are the Reds paying all this money for a left-handed specialist? They could have traded for Oliver Perez, for goodness sakes. Well, in case you didn’t notice, Francisco Cordero hasn’t looked like an elite closer lately, seeing his strikeout rate decline and his walk rate go up over each of the last three seasons. I wouldn’t be shocked in the least if Chapman (or Nick Masset) begins to close games if Cordero shows more signs of decline early on in the year. Just something to keep an eye on.