A good closer is a luxury for non-contending teams.
Although the 2015 season has just begun, the Cincinnati Reds must seriously consider trading Aroldis Chapman.
The flame-throwing left-hander has been a mainstay in the Reds’ bullpen since his major league debut in 2010. Featuring a fastball that routinely reaches the triple digits and a crippling slider, Chapman has established himself as one of the premier late-inning guys in MLB, perhaps only surpassed by Craig Kimbrel, formerly of the Atlanta Braves.
Despite the incredible success he’s sustained in Cincinnati, including three All-Star appearances, the Reds must look to move Chapman quickly if they plan on contending in the near future. The Sunday trade between the Braves and San Diego Padres, which moved the equally unhittable Kimbrel to San Diego, should serve as an impetus to get a deal done.
Despite his reputation as the best closer in the game, Atlanta could only recoup a modest return for Kimbrel. The Braves had to lower their asking price in order to get the Padres to pick up Melvin Upton Jr.’s massive contract.
If the Reds were to try to deal Chapman, their return, in a vacuum, would likely be a little less than what Kimbrel would have fetched. But since this is the MLB, and not a vacuum, the Reds are positioned to reap a bounty.
Any one of the teams expected to contend this season would be thrilled to have Chapman’s services, and most would be willing to part with one or two premium prospects in order to get a deal done.
With the best closer in the game already on the move, the market has shrunk. The demand for a dominant stopper like Chapman will not be higher than it is right now.
The Reds must move quickly while they have leverage. Though it would be disappointing for many Cincinnati fans to see the team selling pieces so early in the season, that disappointment would turn into optimism when they see the bounty the Reds obtained in return.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Aroldis Chapman pitches right handed, when in fact, he throws left handed.