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.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.