Author: D.J. Short

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AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Braves add Jhoulys Chacin on a minor league contract

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CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Braves have added veteran right-hander Jhoulys Chacin on a minor league contract. The deal presumably includes an invitation to spring training, where he could compete for a spot in the starting rotation.

Chacin was once an above-average starter with the Rockies, posting a 3.58 ERA (127 ERA+) from 2010-2013, but he was limited to 11 starts in 2014 due to a shoulder issue before being given his release last spring. He pitched with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate for a stretch before latching on with the Diamondbacks, where he made four starts and one relief appearance while posting a 3.38 ERA and 21/10 K/BB ratio over 26 2/3 innings. While it feels like Chacin has been around forever, he doesn’t turn 28 until January.

As of now, the Braves’ 2016 rotation will likely include Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler, Bud Norris, and some combination of young starters. The team has a bunch of options for those spots, but it’s not hard to imagine Chacin making a handful of starts with the Braves next season.

Phillies sign J.P. Arencibia to a minor league contract

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AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
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The Phillies announced today that they have signed catcher J.P. Arencibia to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Arencibia, best known for his time with the Blue Jays, failed to make the Orioles out of spring training last year and latched on with the Rays in April. He spent most of the season at the Triple-A level, but was called up in late August and finished strong by batting .310 with six home runs and a .921 OPS over 24 games. Of course, he also had a 22/1 K/BB ratio, so we shouldn’t make too much out of the small sample size. While Arencibia has pop, he has hit just .212 with a .258 on-base percentage for his career. The Rays apparently weren’t believers in the late-season surge, as they designated him for assignment last month.

The Phillies already have Carlos Ruiz and Cameron Rupp in-house, but Arencibia will try to battle for a backup job during spring training.

Report: Nationals interested in Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon

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AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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After the Nationals missed out on free agent Jason Heyward, MASN Sports’ Pete Kerzel hears that the club continues to have dialogue with the Rockies about a potential trade for Carlos Gonzalez or Charlie Blackmon. Both are left-handed hitting outfielders, which is an area of need for Washington as they attempt to balance their lineup.

Gonzalez is owed $37 million over the next two seasons, so he could be an appealing alternative to the big-name free agent outfielders remaining on the market. The 30-year-old got off to a slow start this past season, but finished with a career-high 40 home runs to go along with a .271/.325/.540 batting line. Still, his injury history and home/road splits could give some teams pause about the Rockies’ asking price. They are believed to be looking for premium pitching in return.

After a breakout 2014, Blackmon delivered an even better follow-up this past season by batting .287/.347/.450 with 17 home runs, 58 RBI, and 43 stolen bases over 157 games. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and will remain under team control through 2018.

Blackmon could slot in center field for the Nationals, essentially replacing free agent Denard Span. However, Gonzalez might be better suited for a corner, which could mean more Bryce Harper in center field.

Ken Giles trade announced, with 2013 No. 1 pick Mark Appel headed to the Phillies

Ken Giles
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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It was reported on Wednesday that the Astros had acquired hard-throwing reliever Ken Giles from the Phillies for a package of prospects. The deal was officially announced today and it looks a bit different than originally reported…

It was originally expected to a four-for-one deal, with outfield prospect Derek Fisher part of the return package for Philadelphia. However, it’s now a five-for-two deal, with young shortstop Jonathan Arauz also headed to Houston while 2013 No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel and right-hander Harold Arauz have replaced Fisher.

This year’s No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Braves in the Shelby Miller deal, so now two of the last three No. 1 picks have been traded in the past week. Appel is going to get most of the attention here, but his road to the majors has been a little bumpier than anticipated. Now 24 years old, he posted a 4.37 ERA and 110/51 K/BB ratio in 131 2/3 innings this past season between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Fresno. Vincent Velasquez is still the centerpiece for Philadelphia, but Appel is an intriguing wild card in the deal, at the very least.

And we probably shouldn’t ignore that this trade features a pair of Arauzes. Arauzi? This a big moment in MLB history. The one headed to Houston along with Giles appears to be a legitimate prospect. He signed with Philadelphia last year and batted .254/.309/.370 with two home runs and 18 RBI over 44 games this past season in rookie ball. Ben Badler of Baseball America ranked him No. 20 on his list of Gulf Coast League prospects. The Arauz headed to Philadelphia is a 20-year-old right-hander who had a 5.75 ERA over 10 starts and five relief appearances in Low-A this year, but he has averaged 8.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in the minors.

The Astros are getting another interesting piece back with Giles, but this is still quite an impressive haul for a closer.

Nationals not pursuing Aroldis Chapman due to domestic violence incident

Aroldis Chapman
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Nationals manager Dusty Baker said earlier this week that he’d welcome Aroldis Chapman on his team, even after his recent domestic violence incident, but the team’s front office doesn’t feel the same way.

According to Chase Hughes of CSNmidatlantic.com, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said at the team’s Fan Fest event this morning the club is no longer pursuing Chapman due to the uncertainty of the situation.

“It’s changed obviously with the allegations against him. It’s something that we’re not going to continue to go after until we find out how things have happened. It’s something that we don’t want to get into that because of the allegations against him. There are plenty of other targets that we have and we’re going to move on to those,” Rizzo said.

Chapman wasn’t arrested, but MLB is investigating the incident and could levy a punishment. However, it’s unclear when there will be a resolution about his status for the start of the 2016 season. This is why the Dodgers have backed away from the trade, at least for now.

It’s rare to see a general manager address a specific player from another team, but it’s hard to believe anybody will want to trade for Chapman at least until MLB makes a ruling. The public relations fallout must also be considered. That’s apparently where the Nationals stand. Keep in mind that Washington also hasn’t been able to find a deal for either Jonathan Papelbon or Drew Storen so far this offseason. The back-end of that bullpen is already complicated enough.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi reported on Thursday that the Reds are still trying to deal Chapman even with the investigation ongoing.