Should the Cincinnati Reds trade Aroldis Chapman?


The question of whether or not the Cincinnati Reds should deal Aroldis Chapman has been perpetually hanging in the air from the moment the club discovered they actually had found gold in their Cuban Missile.

These types of things don’t usual happen to mid-market clubs, let alone in Cincinnati. They didn’t just acquire Chapman; they won him in a bidding process. At the time, he was this tremendous unknown that we all knew could throw hard, but beyond that, he was a project.

While the club and Chapman have not agreed on an arbitration number heading into 2015, he will still be under club control for the next two seasons. Which means that if the Reds truly do believe they have a shot at hoisting a World Series trophy in the next two seasons, then they should hang on to their biggest weapon. But, as general manager Walt Jocketty showed last month, he isn’t afraid to take one step back in the present, to potentially take two forward in the future.

National media “experts” have been befuddled by what Jocketty has done so far this offseason. At first he was selling his team off to the highest bidders with the deals of Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, then suddenly with the acquisition of Marlon Byrd, they were back to being “all-in.” Would it honestly surprise anyone if Jocketty moved Chapman before the start of the season, and then miraculously signed Johnny Cueto to a long-term extension, just to make us media scribes angrily pound on our keyboards?

There are very few men on the planet earth that can do what Chapman does, as well as he does. The argument to say he’s the premier closer in all of baseball is one worth having. What is undisputable is that he has thrown the fastest pitch on record in the history of baseball and he has a tendency to dominate the opposition, which can be seen by his 430 strikeouts in 252.2 innings of work.

Averting near disaster last spring after taking a line drive off the face, Chapman came back seemingly better in 2014. His 17.7 K/9 smashed his own record from the year prior, meaning that if he theoretically tossed a complete game, he would be striking out an average of anywhere from 17-18 batters per game—which would basically make this a computer game on “easy.”

There’s no need to inform Reds fans about how historic everything they’ve witnessed from Chapman has been. A small minority still wishes that he would have been more open to the idea of joining the rotation in order to maximize his potential, but it’s not as if he has flopped in the closer’s role.

The idea of dealing away not just their closer, but their biggest weapon on their pitching staff may seem preposterous in the short-term, but if a reasonable replacement can be found, the deal makes sense considering what other teams have given up to acquire such players recently.

Just last July; the Detroit Tigers paid a king’s ransom for Joakim Soria. Yes, Joakim Soria. Who, in fairness, was heralded as the next Mariano Rivera prior to his Tommy John Surgery, but afterwards, has lacked looking anything like what Aroldis Chapman could do. In order to acquire Soria’s services, the Tigers gave up their first-round pick in 2013 (that sound familiar to anyone?), Corey Knebel, and second-round pick in 2012, Jake Thompson.

Acquiring Soria was like putting a Band-Aid on open-heart surgery for Detroit. Their bullpen was so horrific that not even he could fix it. One would have to believe that if a team were truly desperate enough, they’d be willing to move heaven and earth for two entire seasons of the Cuban Missile.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote a piece stating that three logical destinations could be: the aforementioned Tigers, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Boston Red Sox. All three teams are in “win now” mode where the addition of Chapman would seemingly put them over the top of their opponents. Much in the same way that dealing any player at the Trade Deadline will cause a slight decrease in their value, if the Reds were to act now, they’d bring back a whole slew of prospects that would make the overhaul in the Latos and Simon deals look like pocket change.

This is by no means a call for the club to part ways with Aroldis. He has been a fan favorite since the moment of his arrival in September 2010. But thinking logically, there is an end of the road here. The chance of Chapman resigning beyond 2016 seems slim, especially with the dollar value he’ll command.

The question the Reds front office will have to ask themselves is: are they ready to make one last run at a World Series with Chapman as their anchor?