That’s one way to help make up for Zack Greinke‘s departure. The Dodgers on Monday agreed to a trade with the Reds to acquire Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is one of baseball’s best pitchers, and now he’ll team with Kenley Jansen to form baseball’s best 1-2 punches at the end of a game.
If you don’t know who Chapman is, I’m sorry. You’ve missed a lot of life. He’s a flamethrowing left-hander who is one of the game’s most intimidating pitchers. His fastball has averaged more than 100 MPH the last two seasons. Just take a look at this list to see who threw the fastest pitches in the majors in 2015. Insane. Also, this from Daniel.
Dodger pitches >=100mph, 2008-present: 58
Chapman pitches >=100mph, 2015: 336
— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) December 7, 2015
Oh, and I guess he throws a slider and changeup, too, but no one really cares about that. All kidding aside, the two pitches are also better-than-average offerings.
If there’s one knock on Chapman’s game, it’s his command. He owns a career 4.4 walks per nine inning rate, and it has been 4 or higher the last three seasons. Despite that, he has still posted a 2.05 ERA, 1.82 FIP and 186 ERA+ in the last three seasons. And since his MLB debut in 2010, only Craig Kimbrel (12.9) has posted a better fWAR than Chapman (11.4).
He seems kind of like a luxury at this point, but the Dodger bullpen (which wasn’t as terrible as the media would have you believe) could always use elite arms. Any bullpen could.
There is something to be said about two elite closers pitching for the same team in their walk years: It’s a good thing. I cannot get behind the fact there would be conflict or some tension. But we’re talking about saves here. If there’s any organization that doesn’t believe in the stat, it’s LA. Also, Daniel makes good points.
I mean, Jansen and Chapman could be platoon closers and both could get saves
— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) December 6, 2015
It seems weird to speculate that not closing reduces market value on the same day on which O'Day got 4/32 at age 33
— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) December 6, 2015
Right. Darren O’Day got a 4-year, $31 million deal from Baltimore, and he had exactly six saves in 2015. To claim Chapman and/or Jansen would need to close to get paid big bucks next offseason is absurd. Baseball is changing, an this is part of the change. Pitching in high leverage is far, far, far more valuable than pitching in a save situation. Sometimes they’re one in the same, sometimes they’re not. Either way, having both Chapman and Jansen is only a good thing for the Dodgers. Unless a team is willing to give up a legitimate front-line starter for one of them, trading one of them makes less than no sense.
Then, there’s this.
Players who know Jansen do not believe he would react well if he lost closer’s job with #Dodgers set to acquire Chapman. Stay tuned.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 7, 2015
I get it. No one wants to lose their job. There are egos at play. But it needs to be looked at differently by Jansen and all players, really.
Pitchers are creatures of habit. I get that. But these guys are also getting paid eight-figure salaries. It shouldn’t matter when they pitch. Just go out there and do the job you’re getting paid to do. That might sound simplistic to some, but it is, in fact, the new reality. Every team employs folks who use advanced statistics. They know saves are virtually meaningless. Chapman and Jansen are going to get upwards of $12-15 million per season for the next handful of years no matter if they have 50 saves or five saves.
We’ve made it this far into the post without having really touched on who the Dodgers gave up for one year of Chapman. Grant Holmes is believed to be the headliner/centerpiece of the deal. There is at least one other prospect going to Cincinnati, too. Jose Peraza makes a bit of sense, especially with the Dodgers’ reported interest in Ben Zobrist. He’d also make sense if Brandon Phillips is somehow included in the deal, which I hope would mean a lesser prospect going to Cincy.
Holmes ranked as my No. 4 prospect heading into last season. Here’s what I wrote about him.
“Holmes is armed with a low-90s fastball that touches the mid-90s. He was clocked as high as 100 MPH before the draft and he sat at 94-96 MPH in his debut (at times), but that kind of velocity isn’t sustainable for him as a starter. Still, his low-90s heater with movement projects as a plus-pitch, and maybe even a little better. He commands the pitch well enough, but he still has some work to do in that department. He has a plus-curveball that features a sharp 11-5 break. It almost looks like a slider at times, but it sits in low-80s. It’s a true hammer. He also developed a slider after turning pro that sits in the mid-80s. It still needs a lot of work, but it flashes at least average potential and could tick up as he gets more comfortable with it. If he doesn’t develop it to where it needs to be, he can always ditch it. To round out his arsenal, he has a changeup that needs improvement, but could be his primary weapon against lefties down the road. It’s a low-to-mid-80s pitch that features some good downward fade. He leaves it up in the zone too often at present and needs to work on finishing it off.”
He has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter if everything breaks right. His command needs work if that’s to happen. If he doesn’t fully hone his command, I could see a solid No. 3 starter, a really good No. 4 or a late-inning, hard-throwing reliever.
The entire deal is not yet known, but it’d make sense for the Reds to be interested in a guy closer to the majors if Holmes is the centerpiece. I’m talking about guys like Peraza, Austin Barnes, Jharel Cotton, Scott Schebler and Zach Lee. Any combination of Holmes and one of the guys named in the previous sentence would seem like a fair trade (except maybe Lee). Chris Anderson might also fit, but he struggled in Double-A last season. That’s my own speculation. It’s also the fact I don’t want to see a guy like Cody Bellinger or Alex Verdugo sent as part of the deal.
Whatever the deal ends up being, I’m betting it’ll be good for the Dodgers. It is never a bad thing to acquire elite talent. In Chapman, they have one of the game’s best relievers. It doesn’t matter who closes. The matchups will determine that. Dave Roberts and Co., will determine that.
If the organization can get Chapman and Jansen to work, look out.