CINCINNATI — All the talk is about the Reds trading Aroldis Chapman. I’d be stunned if they didn’t. Here’s an alternative idea to trading him.
When Chapman shows up at Redsfest, pull him aside and ask, how would you like to make an extre $50 million or so.
The way for Chapman to do that is finally to become a starter. If he’s good as a starter — and I think he would be — he’s probably looking at $100 million as a free agent. As a closer, he’s looking at $50 million.
From the Reds’ standpoint, it’s worth the gamble. For them to compete in 2016, they’re going to need some things to fall into place. If they have a 103-mph left-hander at the top of their rotation, maybe things do.
They don’t have a lot to lose. They’re probably looking at getting a couple of prospects for Chapman. If he’s successful starting, they could get considerably more at the trade deadline. If he’s so-so, they could make a qualifying offer and get a draft choice for him after the season.
The key is convincing Chapman to do it. He was pretty adamantly against it when asked about it before the 2014 season. That’s why you mention the 50 million reasons.
Chapman, of course, would have to use his other pitches more. He threw 75.5 percent fastballs this year, 16.7 sliders and 7.6 change-ups. Only two starters — Lance Lynn and Bartolo Colon — threw a higher percentage of fastballs.
The Mets showed how effective power arms can be in the postseason.
Would the Reds try this with Chapman? Almost certainly not. But, again, in their position, it’s worth considering.
TOP 10 LIST: The Baseball America issue with the Reds’ Top 10 prospects arrived the other day. I’m always curious to get BA’s take on the prospects. J.J. Cooper wrote this year’s version. J.J. knows his stuff.
Right-hander Robert Stephenson was No. 1 for the second straight year. The rest of the top 10 was greatly affected by the midseason trades the Reds made.
The list is pitching heavy, as you might expect:
1. Stephenson: He made it to Triple-A as a 22-year-old. He was dazzling at times. He’ll probably start 2016 at Triple-A, but a mid-season call-up is likely. Stephenson has three plus pitches and is organization's best bet to develop into a No. 1 starter
2. LHP Cody Reed: The Reds got him in the Johnny Cueto trade. His fastball tops out at 97. “His 85-87 slider received double plus grades from some scouts. It’s a wipeout offering,” BA wrote. His potential is right behind Stephenson.
3. LHP Amir Garrett: The former basketball player was 9-7 with a 2.44 ERA at high-A Daytona. His development was slowed by playing both spots. It’s picked up since he gave up hoops.
4. C Tyler Stephenson: He was the Reds’ top pick in 2015 draft. He held his own at Billings (.268, .352 on-base, 15 doubles in in 194 at-bats), a high level for a high school kid.
5. OF Jesse Winker: Winker is the Reds’ best hitting prospect. He struggled early at Double-A this year. But he hit .316/.426/.516 in the second half. He’ll likely start at Louisville, but he has a chance to make the Reds with an impressive spring.
6. SS/2B: Alex Blandino: He was a first-rounder out of Stanford in 2014. He hit .294/.370/.438 at Daytona. He struggled a bit after a promotion to Double-A Pensacola. He’ll probably start 2016 there.
7. RHP Nick Travieso: The former first-rounder (2012) had a solid year but made only 19 starts (a comebacker broke a forearm bone in June). He’ll probably start the year at Double-A. He’s been impressive in the Arizona Fall League, winning pitcher of the week honors.
8. LHP Keury Mella: He was the key to Mike Leake deal. He has a power arm (his fastball touches 97). He struck out 106 in 103 innings in high-A ball. He’ll probably start at Pensacola.
9. RHP Sal Romano: He was a 23rd-round pick in 2011. His fastball touches 99. He struggled in seven starts after being promoted to Pensacola. Will likely start 2016 there. BA sees him as potential setup man or closer, if starting doesn’t work out.
10. RHP Tyler Mahle: He was a seventh-round pick it 2013. He went 13-8 with a 2.43 ERA in 27 games at low-A Dayton as a 20-year-old.