Aroldis Chapman to make first start in AFL on Monday

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Word is already out that the Reds are planning to convert hard-throwing left-hander Aroldis Chapman from a setup man to a starter this winter. Just under four weeks from the conclusion of the 2011 regular season, that transition is already in full swing.

According to beat writer John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Chapman is scheduled to make his first start in the Arizona Fall League on Monday.

The Cuban defector has already made one scoreless relief appearance in the prospect-packed AFL, and will pitch out of the bullpen again on Thursday before gearing up for his first lengthier Monday outing.

Once the Arizona Fall League reaches its conclusion, Chapman will head to the Puerto Rican Winter League to continue building the endurance of his prized left arm. The Reds are hoping he’ll be able to throw five innings — without feeling any kind of abnormal pain or discomfort — by the start of spring training in February.

Chapman, who’s averaged 98.2 mph with his heater since arriving in the majors in 2010, is expected to open the 2012 season in the Reds’ starting rotation. If he can’t pull it off, the “bust” label will be coming.

Japanese outfielder Yoshida to negotiate with MLB teams

Masataka Yoshida
Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Outfielder Masataka Yoshida will be able to negotiate with Major League Baseball teams starting Wednesday under the posting system with the Japanese big leagues.

A member of Japan’s Olympic team last year, Yoshida will be posted at 8 a.m. EST on Wednesday and MLB teams have until 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 20 to reach an agreement, the commissioner’s office said Tuesday.

The 29-year-old hit .335 with 21 homers and 88 RBIs in 119 games this year for the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Pacific League. A left-handed batter, he has a .327 average with 133 homers and 467 RBIs over seven seasons in the Japanese majors.

Yoshida hit .350 with two RBIs as Japan won last year’s Olympic gold medal.

Under 2017 changes to the posting system, the posting fee will be 20% of the first $25 million of a major league contract, including earned bonuses and options. The percentage drops to 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any amount over $50 million. There would be a supplemental fee of 15% of any earned bonuses, salary escalators and exercised options.

Hard-throwing right-hander Kodai Senga, another member of the Olympic team, is a free agent and does not have to go through the posting system because he has 11 seasons of service time in the Japanese major leagues.

Senga, who turns 30 in January, was 11-6 with a 1.94 ERA in 22 starts for the Pacific League’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. He pitched three scoreless innings in two outings against the U.S. in the Olympics, allowing one hit and striking out six with two walks.