As soon as the ink dried on closer Jonathan Broxton's new contract with Cincinnati, the Reds confirmed that the team will use Aroldis Chapman as a starter to begin the 2013 season. Bryan Price told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay that the team will evaluate Chapman's usage "after 25 or 30 starts." As Drew Silva mentions in the article, that is nearly an entire season for today's starting pitchers. If the Reds are concerned about limiting Chapman's pitches, I think they should simply skip him a time or two per month. The team could easily reset the rotation after off days to give Chapman extra rest without burdening the rest of the staff. There is no reason for Walt Jocketty to employ the same inflexible plan that the Nationals used with Stephen Strasburg.
Matt Klaassen looks at the Jonathan Broxton deal. He stresses the fact that we should not focus on Broxton's 22.1 innings of quality work with Cincinnati last year. While Broxton has added a cutter that might boost his performance going forward, he is still a 29 year-old pitcher in decline. Klaassen's ultimate conclusion is that the deal is an overpay, but he thinks there is no need to panic. The Reds are in the sweet spot where marginal wins are at their most valuable to the club. If Broxton's one or two wins is the difference between the Reds playing some extra games versus watching football on Sundays in October, then the contract is a minor concern.
As the time has come for Hall of Fame debates once again, Dan Holmes has been breaking down the cases for the pre-integration candidates before the Veterans' Committee this year. On Tuesday, he looked at Reds Hall of Famer Bucky Walters. While Walters was an exceptional player, I believe that he was a bit short of Hall of Fame quality. He had a nice, but not otherworldly, peak. Also, Walters added little value outside of his prime seasons. He is certainly on the Reds all-time staff, but he is not quite Cooperstown material.
His candidacy is based on a peak run of six seasons where he was clearly a very good pitcher, the most consistent and dominant in the National League. But his career ERA+ of 116 is not particularly impressive when compared to Hall of Famers from his era, and outside of his peak, Walters had an ERA over 4.00 and posted a losing record. Was he as great over a short stretch as Sandy Koufax or Addie Joss or any of the pitchers who are in Cooperstown because of their overwhelming peak value? No, he wasn't, and because Walters failed to even reach career milestones like 200 wins or 2,000 K's, he fails the magic number test. He did win more games than any other pitcher in baseball from 1935-1949.
Free agent news from around baseball:
Russell Martin hits for a low average, but provides power and walks from a position associated with weak offensive output. His defense is middle-of-the-road unless you believe the pitch framing metrics, in which case he is a good backstop. All in all, I think that Martin is good signing for the Pirates at 2/$17M. Martin really only needs to be average to make it a good deal. He provides Pittsburgh with an upgrade to the earthly remains of Rod Barajas. Finally, Martin and Michael McKenry make a good 1-2 punch from the catcher position in the event that McKenry regresses to his previous performance levels.
The eight year, $138 million deal to the Mets' franchise player includes next season's salary of $16 million that was part of Wright's previous contract. I do not think that 8/$138M is a terrible overpay for Wright, but I do not understand why the Mets made this deal. New York has no other pieces (save R.A. Dickey) to complement Wright. The third baseman will stick out like a barren cornerstone in the middle of Flushing.
Free agent B.J. Upton as agreed to a five-year deal with the Atlanta Braves. Several media outlets reported the deal is worth $75.25 million, which would be the largest free-agent contract in team history.
Upton, 28, had spent his entire eight-year career with the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2012, he hit .246/.298/.454 with 28 home runs and 31 stolen bases.
I actually thought that Upton would get more money that he did. Upton is not a great player, but he has a broader skill-set than Michael Bourn and is almost two years younger. If Upton experiences a power surge after leaving the spacious outfield of Tropicana Field, then he could provide some nice surplus value for the Braves.
The deal is for one year at $10 million with incentives.