The Reds are stretching out left-hander Aroldis Chapman this spring in preparation for moving him to the starting rotation. However, while the club plans to handle his workload responsibly, they aren’t willing to say much more.
According to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, Reds pitching coach Bryan Price said today that the team doesn’t plan to disclose their plan for how many innings Chapman will throw as a starter.
“There is a pretty good understanding of what will be necessary to keep his innings at an area that we’re comfortable with, should he be a starter throughout the course of the season,” Prices said on Saturday. “That being said, I think if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned it’s better to keep that stuff to ourselves. You just set the table for a little too much speculation and Q&A that I would not be comfortable going through.”
This is a different situation than what we saw with Stephen Strasburg last season, as Chapman is making the transition from the bullpen as opposed to pitching his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, but it’s easy to see how a firm number could become a distraction for a team which is expected to contend. No need to go there, especially since a lot of things can happen in spring training. Remember, Chapman was originally expected to begin last season in the starting rotation before Ryan Madson hurt his elbow and required Tommy John surgery.
Chapman posted a dominant 1.51 ERA, 38 saves and a 122/23 K/BB ratio over 71 2/3 innings last season. Jonathan Broxton is expected to take his place in the closer role this season.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.