With the Red Sox exploring all avenues for pitching help, Aroldis Chapman's name has made it's way into the rumor mill more and more often in the last couple weeks. The Reds, after all, are in full-on fire sale mode by all accounts, and Chapman is absolutely one of the pieces on the block. He's one of the best relievers in the game, and exactly what the Red Sox need. A match made in heaven, right?
Probably not. And, as always, it comes down to price.
What would the Red Sox be buying in Chapman? One of the best relievers in baseball, certainly, but also just one year of him. When it comes to free agents, shorter deals tend to be better, but Chapman is young enough and good enough that, frankly, the Sox would probably rather have him locked in for four than for one. For what it's worth, Chapman being in arbitration doesn't even mean much help for a Red Sox budget that looks like it's going to be strained this season, as he already made $8 million before his excellent 2015 season. He will very likely be among the top paid relievers in all of baseball in 2016.
And, of course, Chapman is not a free agent, and that's what really makes the length of the deal prohibitively short. As a reliever, Chapman is only going to pitch somewhere in the vicinity of 60-to-70 innings for whatever team trades for him before he hits the open market.
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No one knows if one of those offers came from the Sox.
How much should a team give up for the right to pay top dollar for 70 innings from a top arm? The answer is probably very little, particularly when you take into account the presence of players like Darren O'Day in the free agent market. O'Day will likely make less in terms of salary, give the Red Sox more years of control (albeit some coming at less-than-desirable ages, even for a reliever), and do so for no cost in talent.
The Reds are looking at Chapman as a way to build a new nest egg for their next run at success. He's how they jump-start the next great Reds team before Joey Votto goes from asset to burden. It's an ambitious goal, and very likely not one that's truly attainable. The Reds will probably end up getting less than they hoped for from Chapman given that he is just a reliever under control for one more season. But there's some team out there that's going to be willing to overpay because Aroldis Chapman is Aroldis Chapman, and the Red Sox shouldn't be in the business of topping them.
With the Red Sox in need of so much improvement on the mound, they're likely going to have to dip into their prospect reserves at some point in order to stay within their budget for 2016. But doing it for a one-year reliever who won't even come at a discount will just leave them with less cash, fewer prospects, and only a short-term answer. No thanks.