Aroldis Chapman has been the subject of plenty of trade rumors this week, but he's kind of a unique case. He still has a year left on his contract, making him a little bit more valuable than other arms on the market, and when it comes to stuff, there's nobody better on the market. That said, there are still other high-quality arms out there, like Craig Kimbrel and Jonathan Papelbon.
Is there enough teams looking for closers for something to happen? Let's break it down.
Generously, let's make a list of who's making a run this year:
- Current division leaders: Yankees, Royals, Angels, Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers
- In play for wild card spots: Astros, Twins, Blue Jays, Orioles, Pirates, Giants, Cubs, Mets
Once again, generous, but I think that's a pretty exhaustive list.
Who has closers already?
- NYY (Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances)
- KC (Greg Holland, Wade Davis)
- LAA (Huston Street)
- WAS (Drew Storen)
- STL (Trevor Rosenthal)
- LAD (Kenley Jansen)
- HOU (Luke Gregerson)
- MIN (Glen Perkins)
- TOR (Roberto Osuna, Brett Cecil)
- BAL (Zach Britton)
- PIT (Mark Melancon)
- SF (Santiago Casilla)
- CHC (Hector Rondon, Jason Motte)
- NYM (Tyler Clippard, Jeurys Familia, Jennry Mejia)
Let's eliminate the teams who won't be looking to upgrade
The Royals have one of the best bullpens in baseball, so they probably don't have much of a use for Chapman. Minnesota and Baltimore seem to be the kind of situations where they're pretty much set at closer to the point where that won't be what they try to improve, although Minnesota could use bullpen help. The Mets already went out and got Clippard, so you'd have to think that they're not going to trade for another closer.
Who won't the Reds trade to?
This is speculation, but I'd guess that Bob Castellini trades Chapman, it won't be to a team that the Reds see 18 times a year. That eliminates the Cardinals (who probably don't need him anyway), as well as the Pirates and the Cubs. You'd figure that the Cubs will get a closer, but it's hard to imagine Chapman being that guy.
So that leaves...
New York Yankees
Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle... Chapman? While the Yankees have 2 guys who could take that 9th inning role, getting Chapman would send a message that they're not messing around this year, and would make them one of the best bullpens in the AL. They also have the prospects to get it done.
Los Angeles Angels
Street has been great in the closer role for them, but the Angels' pen is somewhere around the middle of the pack in MLB right now. They could use a major upgrade, and Chapman could be that guy. We'll take one Mike Trout, please.
The Nats have been mentioned as the most likely destination for Chapman, and it's easy to see why. Drew Storen is good, but he's no Chapman, and it seems like a forgone conclusion that the Nats will be acquiring a closer. The biggest question here is if they're going to give up what they need to for Chapman, or go with a cheaper option. They've been linked heavily with Papelbon too, which won't cost them as much.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Kenley Jansen has been fine, but when it comes to the teams capable of making the biggest splashes, don't count out the Dodgers. Their bullpen has been a major weakness for them all year, and they seem likely to upgrade, and they have the money and prospects to get anything they want to done.
The Astros are in "going for it" mode, and to beat the Royals in the AL, they'll need the bullpen to go along with it. They've put together a lot of nice pieces there, but Chapman could bring them over the top. They still have some prospects left too, but you have to wonder if the bullpen will be their first priority.
Toronto Blue Jays
Boy oh boy, could the Blue Jays use Chapman. After making a big splash last night with the acquisition of Tulo, Toronto still needs an absolute ton of pitching to stay in this race. Chapman would bolster what's been a shaky pen, but do they still have the prospects to upgrade everything they need to?
San Francisco Giants
Another team that's been mentioned as a likely destination, the Giants would be a good fit, and could probably get a deal done with their minor league system. They also strike me as a team who could go with a cheaper option, but at least they'd have him under contract for next season for when they make their inevitable even-year run.
It's still really hard to tell. There do seem to be fits around the league if you look hard enough, but Chapman's unique in that he's not the kind of guy you can acquire and put in middle relief. If you're trading for Chapman, he's your closer, and that can be hard on chemistry when there's an already established bullpen in place.
Along with that, we also have to keep in mind that owner Bob Castellini LOVES Chapman, and it's just as likely that they'd keep him as a show of goodwill to the fans, even if it's not the smart baseball decision. The smart baseball decision is for the fry cook at Burger King to trade in his Bentley, but can the Reds think with their heads instead of their hearts?