Reds GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay yesterday that Aroldis Chapman may one day be the Reds’ closer:
“We would still leave (starting) as an option,” Jocketty said. “He definitely could be a top-of-the-rotation guy. He’s either going to have to do that or be a closer. I don’t see him being a set-up guy forever.”
Whatever. I don’t know when the meeting was held in which everyone decided that closers were more valuable than starters, but I’d really like to see the minutes. Because at some point in that meeting, someone must have stood up and yelled “People! If you have a talented pitcher, he should start games unless and until he shows he can’t hack it for some reason! Then and only then should he be stuck in the bullpen, because it’s not in your best interest to use your better pitchers in fewer innings!”
People love that Chapman and Neftali Feliz and before them Joba Chamberlin and any number of other guys like them can throw it hard and shut people down, so they somehow assume they should be doing it out of the pen. I don’t get it. It’s almost as if it’d be better if they were less impressive just before reaching the majors so that their teams wouldn’t be inclined to shove them in the big league bullpen for a playoff run, which in turn causes everyone to forget that they were once quality starting pitching prospects.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.