Aroldis Chapman still struggling despite move to Double-A

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It’s time to check in again on Aroldis Chapman, who has been working to refine his command in the minor leagues for the past three weeks.

From Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer comes word that the 23-year-old left-hander allowed two earned runs in less than two innings Thursday in his first relief appearance since getting sent from Triple-A Louisville to Double-A Carolina.

Chapman tallied three strikeouts and threw heat as usual, but he walked two and surrendered two hits while throwing just 17 of his 37 pitches for strikes.

The Reds were hoping that Chapman would be ready to return to the back end of their bullpen after just four outings at Carolina, but he’s off to a rough start and could spend much longer at the Double-A level.

The Cuban-born Chapman yielded nine hits and seven earned runs in three appearances at Triple-A Louisville before the Reds decided to bump him down a rung last week in an effort to rebuild his confidence against lesser competition. He had a 6.92 ERA and 15/20 K/BB ratio this season in 13 major league innings.

What’s important to keep in mind here is that Chapman is not some cost-effective young pitcher. He signed a six-year, $30.25 million major league contract in January 2010 that included a fat $16.25 million signing bonus. The Reds have to get him right soon or risk blowing a major financial investment.

Nationals Acquire Ryan Raburn From White Sox

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The Washington Nationals have acquired outfielder Ryan Raburn from the Chicago White Sox. Raburn had been playing at Triple-A Charlotte. He’ll be assigned to Triple-A Syracuse in the Nats organization. The Nationals will send cash or a player to be named later to the White Sox to complete the deal.

Raburn has yet to play in the majors this season. Last year he hit .220/.309/.404 with nine homers in 113 games for the Colorado Rockies. The year before that he hit an excellent .301/.393/.543 in part time play for the Indians. Over the course of his 11 year career the 36-year-old has hit .253/.317/.436, which breaks down to an OPS+ of exactly 100, which is league average. Primarily an outfielder, Raburn has played every position except shortstop and catcher in his career. He’s even pitched twice.

The Nats plans for him aren’t entirely clear, but depth it depth.

If the Tigers are sub-.500 at the end of June it’ll be fire sale time

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Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.

This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.

So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.

The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.