Nothing is official yet, but every indication is that the Reds will move Aroldis Chapman into the rotation after signing Jonathan Broxton to a three-year, $21 million deal to replace him as closer.
John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes as if it might as well be official, saying “this means Chapman’s going to start” and speculating that the 24-year-old left-hander will be allowed to throw around 180 innings after totaling 72 in 2012.
That’s a big jump, but it’s important to note that Chapman was initially viewed as a starter in the minors before shifting to the bullpen in preparation for his call-up in 2010. That year–which was his first in the United States after defecting from Cuba–he threw a total of 109 innings between Triple-A and the majors.
This year was a mixed bag for young pitchers moving from the bullpen to the rotation, as Chris Sale thrived, Daniel Bard struggled, and Neftali Feliz got injured, but seeing what Chapman can do in a 180-inning role before locking him into a 70-inning role for the rest of his career makes an awful lot of sense.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.