Cincinnati Reds: What Could Aroldis Chapman Bring Back from the Nationals?


Just before Aroldis Chapman took the mound in a 5-4 win on Friday, Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi reported that the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals have discussed a trade for the flame-throwing closer.

Morosi later tweeted that the Nationals initiated the conversation, meaning that Walt Jocketty and the Reds may not be ready to move Chapman right now. Whether the Reds have yet to seriously considered moving Chapman or not, they should think long and hard about doing so.

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As things stand right now on June 13, the Reds are 28-32 and 11.5 games back of the first place St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central. They’re also five games back from a Wild Card spot. Even though the team is playing pretty good baseball at the moment, it’s a long shot for the Reds to earn a playoff berth, especially with injuries continuing to pile up. It would be wise to start moving players like Chapman who have contracts expiring soon and would bring a huge haul in return.

What exactly could the Reds get from the Nationals in return for Chapman? It’s hard to tell because there aren’t many relievers as dominant as him who have been traded recently.

The first pitcher that came to mind for comparison was Craig Kimbrel, who was traded from the Atlanta Braves to the San Diego Padres before the 2015 season began. In exchange for Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr., the Braves acquired Matt Wisler—the Padres’ No. 1 prospect and No. 34 overall, per Baseball America—along with Jordan Paroubeck (ranked as the Padres’ 19th best prospect in 2014 by, Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin (who the Braves immediately released), and the 41st pick in this year’s draft.

Another somewhat comparable trade could be that of Andrew Miller at last year’s trade deadline. Miller was traded from the Boston Red Sox, who acquired pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (Orioles’ No. 3 prospect) in return. The Reds would likely ask for an additional piece rather than doing a 1-for-1 deal like this, but it gives you an idea of what Jocketty could get for his closer.

The Houston Astros’ trade of Billy Wagner back in 2003 is also a trade to look at. Much like Chapman, Wagner was a dominant left-handed closer who threw up to 100 mph. Wagner was traded to the Phillies for three pitchers: Taylor Buchholz (baseball’s No. 88 prospect in 2003), Ezequiel Astacio (ranked at No. 80 before the 2005 season), and Brandon Duckworth, who was an established major league pitcher at the time. The circumstances around Wagner’s move were different and the trade market has changed as well, but that trade may be another to look at when comparing Chapman.

If the Reds’ talks with the Nationals eventually result in a deal between the two teams, you’d have to imagine Jocketty could get at least a top two or three prospect from Washington along with another solid prospect or two. With the Nationals’ bullpen underperforming, they would surely be willing to give up a hefty sum in exchange for one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. Add to that the fact that Chapman’s not a rental player—his contract runs through 2016—and the Reds could be looking at an impressive return for their closer.

The Nationals’ top prospect is right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito, who is also the No. 7 prospect in all of baseball. You can bet he would be the first player Jocketty asks about. If Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo isn’t willing to part with his top young player, the Reds could turn to outfielder Michael Taylor. The Nationals’ No. 2 prospect (32nd in baseball) is someone the Reds have already had a look at this season who had 23 home runs and 37 stolen bases in the minors in 2014. Given the Reds’ current lack of young, major-league ready position players, Taylor would be a great piece to get back. Righty pitcher Reynaldo Lopez (No. 3 Nationals prospect, No. 49 in baseball) could also be a player the Reds ask for. Toss in one of those three promising prospects with another top 20 prospect or two and the Reds would get a nice package back for Chapman.

Whether the Reds trade Chapman to the Nationals or another team, it would benefit the organization in the long-run to bring in young talent for their stars with little time left on their contracts. With the outlook appearing grim for the 2015 season, restocking the organization with gifted prospects is exactly what the Reds need to do in order to have a bright future.

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