Monday, December 7, 2015

Boys In Blue Bolster Bullpen With One of Baseball's Best

The Dodgers have reportedly acquired closer Aroldis Chapman from the Reds for two minor league prospects.  According to David Vassegh, the deal does not involve any minor league pitching which might surprise some who figured De Leon or Grant Holmes would be headlining a deal like this.  It's currently unknown who is going to Cincinnati but Peraza is a name being thrown around as someone who might have been dealt.  Chapman arrives to LA with one year remaining on his contract which seems to be a trend with the new front office of having players at least one full year to allow them to extend a qualifying offer at the end of the year.  Current closer, Kenley Jansen, is also on the last year of his contract and would likely be in the same position unless any sort of extension is given to him before 2016's end.

Ken Rosenthal tweeted earlier that "players who know Jansen do not believe he would react well if he lost closer’s job."  This immediately draws comparisons to the Washington Nationals a mid-season when they acquired Jonathan Papelbon and moved closer Drew Storen to the 8th inning.  Storen began to struggle immensely before ultimately injuring his hand punching a fire extinguisher in frustration from a bad game.  However, this is all premature thinking.  Kenley might not react "well" but it doesn't mean he'll become a prima donna or start blowing leads and suffering.  If anything, the front office has probably consulted Kenley over the matter and know how crucial he will be to the Dodgers in 2016 and possibly beyond.

If Chapman and Kenley both stay for the year, the Dodgers bullpen improves tremendously (obviously). The mission was always get to Kenley Jansen or fear blowing the lead and now with Chapman it makes the 8th and 9th innings much more comfortable.  Chris Hatcher had his ups and downs throughout the year but towards the end saw a lot of improvement and is most likely going to be the 7th inning reliever if the Dodgers go with the "everyone has their set roles" strategy.  Kenley and Chapman could also be used much like the New York Yankees' Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller having the two used interchangeably depending on the situation come the 8th and 9th innings.  However, even those two had a large disparity in number of saves between them (Miller with 36, Betances with 9).  With the shifting change in baseball thinking, the save might hopefully be losing its value a bit with front offices.  Pitchers like Betances and Wade Davis don't rack up the 40+ saves an elite closer might get but are still considered the best relievers in the game and any team would trust them with a save situation.  Although when it comes to voters of awards and dollars in the contract, the save is still mostly the big ticket.  To buck that trend, the Orioles recently gave Darren O'Day a 4 year, 31 million dollar contract even though he only has a total of 14 saves in his 8 year career.  Hopefully as the years go on the thinking continues to go away from saves meaning everything because nobody in their right mind should devalue Jansen or Chapman based on how many saves they'll get in 2016.

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