"We see him as potentially a top-of-the-rotation starter at some point." - Walt Jocketty, 2010
This decision wasn't made using some crude, superficial gloss of Chapman's talent. Something like:
Recently turned 25,Aroldis Chapman is a 6'4" lefty who has thrown the fastest pitch in recorded history. His fastball and slider were both among the 10 best pitches in the major leagues last season, according to FanGraphs.
I know the Reds went deeper than that.
It wasn't made using spring training performance:
Chapman, 2012: 17.0 IP, 2.12 ERA, 1.12 WHIP
Leake, 2012: 14.0 IP, 5.14 ERA, 1.64 WHIP
Chapman, 2013: 8.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, 1.13 WHIP
Leake, 2013: 8.1 IP, 6.48 ERA, 1.92 WHIP
We can dig it. Spring stats are next to worthless, even if you should be able to say, for example: "Hey, I could imagine this guy as a starting pitcher."
It wasn't made using 2012 regular season performance:
Chapman: 71.2 IP, 282 ERA+, 5.3 K/BB
Leake: 179 IP, 93 ERA+, 2.83 K/BB
Chapman was a reliever and Leake was a starter. I get it. Apples and pears.
It wasn't made using salary considerations:
Chapman, 2013 salary: $3.5M
Leake, 2013 salary: $3.06M
Makes sense. Neither are making starting pitching money. And sunk costs shouldn't determine how a player is used anyway. Though the Reds did give Chapman over $30M before arbitration on the premise that he could be an elite starter. They must be convinced he isn't going to even be a good starter.
It wasn't made because the closer role is really, really important. The 2012 postseason was just the latest example of why that's not the case. This study is another. I'm sure the Reds' brass knows this, but they're also privy to some cool proprietary graphs.
I'm also sure that 3rd year on Broxton's contract was just a misprint.
It wasn't made out of fear of an overcrowded, well-paid bullpen:
Sean Marshall: $4.5M (3 yr/$16.5M)
Jonathan Broxton: $4M (3yr/$21M)
Nick Masset: $3.1M
Jose Arredondo: $1.2M
Manny Parra: $1M
Logan Ondrusek: $950,000
Alfredo Simon: $890,000
Sam LeCure $500,000
J.J. Hoover $500,000
If we're saying Chapman can't pass as a starter, then he's just got to go back into the bullpen. Just carry 15 pitchers.
Then how was this decision made?