Danny Knobler has a column up today asking a question a lot of Reds fans have probably been asking themselves for some time: why in the heck is Aroldis Chapman still the Reds’ setup guy?
He hasn’t allowed a run all year. He has retired 22 of his last 24 hitters. He has a K/BB ratio of 34/5 in 19 and a third innings. He’s simply dominant. And, given that he was a starter in Cuba and a starter in the Reds minor league system before being put in the pen last year, he should probably be given a chance to start, yes? No, say the Reds. At least not yet:
“On our team right now, he should stay in the bullpen,” second baseman Brandon Phillips said. “We need someone in the bullpen like him” … [General Manager Walt] Jocketty doesn’t rule out Chapman in the rotation at some point this year, but he also said, “We may become resigned to the fact that he may spend this year in the bullpen.”
Walt: you run the team. How do you become “resigned” to this? Dusty Baker is in the last year of his contract and you’re his boss. There’s no way to force that issue here?
Yes, he’s an amazing relief pitcher. But Roy Halladay would be an amazing relief pitcher if you turned him into a setup man. As would every other good starter in baseball. Given that a starter pitches three times as many innings in a season as a setup man, you shouldn’t leave a guy like Chapman in the pen unless and until he shows you he can’t start.
And he can’t show you that until you give him a chance to try.
The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.
Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.
Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.