Bill Bray’s groin injury could send Aroldis Chapman back to the Reds’ bullpen

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Bill Bray had to cut a bullpen session short after aggravating a groin injury and if he’s unavailable for Opening Day the Reds may shift Aroldis Chapman back to the bullpen.

All offseason the Reds talked about stretching out Chapman for a potential move to the rotation, but they have plenty of starter depth even without him and Bay’s injury could leave a key hole in the left-handed setup corps.

Or as manager Dusty Baker told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer: “That’s a pretty good backup plan.”

For now Fay reports that Chapman remains scheduled to start tomorrow’s game against the Giants, so he’ll probably stay in limbo until the Reds have a better idea of Bray’s recovery timetable.

Mets sign Matt Purke to minors deal

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The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.

Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.

While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.