(Editor’s Note: This is a two-part series having to do with the potential acquisition of Aroldis Chapman. While the deal is on hold for various reasons, how it might affect the team is still worth exploring given how close it seems the trade once was and the Dodgers’ reluctance to give it up completely. Click here for part one: How trading for Chapman could backfire.
In this exercise, we are operating under the situation Chapman is cleared by MLB.)
Most of the headlines in the past twenty-four hours have circled around how the Los Angeles Dodgers current closer Kenley Jansen will “feel” about a potential acquisition of the Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. The trade, reported as done, until it was not when a police report surfaced that Mr. Chapman’s girlfriend was physically abused by him. It is a sad situation indeed for his girlfriend and for the player.
Much of what the mainstream media has circulated is conjecture. The discussion is focused on feelings of players in a potential trade, while the final destination is still uncertain.
Everyone forgets the 2014 San Diego Winter Meetings trade between the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Philadelphia Phillies, and the Dodgers that sent multiple players and money in different directions. Right before that trade, the Dodgers and San Diego Padres were completing a trade and a rival team leaked information that outfielder Matt Kemp had bad hips. The attempt was to sweeten the deal for the Padres. Friedman refused and the trade went through as planned.
How about the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, and Dodgers mid-season trade in 2015? We have short memories on what Dodgers’ President of Baseball Operations is capable of doing. Something much bigger was afoot here.
Assuming, for the moment, in a trade for Aroldis Chapman that he was actually headed to the Dodgers, here are some questions and points to consider:
1. Was Kenley Jansen given a heads-up and has he been kept in the loop? Certainly, it appears that Clayton Kershaw has been. Knowing this fact or facts would alleviate concerns of Jansen being “crushed” by such news.
2. Should we be worried about Jansen’s feelings? Jansen is a professional. He can handle it. We are talking about a man who is a converted catcher that has become one of the games top closers. He has battled through heart problems, while adjusting to American culture as a professional athlete. We should not be concerned about his feelings at this time. Furthermore, Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts will be fine in “managing” personalities.
3. Will Jansen and Chapman be harmed by sharing closer duties and thus their 2016 pending free agency contract value? Assuming, for a moment, that Chapman or Jansen would be “relegated” to a set-up role or a share of closer duties, teams, especially the Dodgers, would not forget their value as closers. Jonathan Papelbon’s four-year, $50 million deal is the current ceiling for closer contracts. Andrew Miller, a set-up man with no closer experience close to that of Jansen or Chapman, received a four-year, $36 million deal.
Darren O’Day, the top free agent relief pitcher this off-season, is 33 years-old, and five to six years older than Chapman and Jansen, is due $31 million over four-years.
Jansen and Chapman will be fine financially. The only real concern is losing both to free agency in 2017.
4. We should be concerned about Chapman’s personality and domestic violence issue(s). Yes, this would be a major concern in trading for Chapman to the Dodgers. Do the Dodgers want to take on another personality for the clubhouse? Reports out of 2015 Nashville Winter Meetings seem to confirm this, but again this is all conjecture. We do not know.
Domestic violence is serious business. So is shooting your own garage ceiling. Dusty Baker, who managed Chapman in Cincinnati, but is currently with the Washington Nationals as their Manager, praised Chapman stating the he is “a heck of a guy” and that he does not believe reports.
5. Potential for something very special! Yes. Can you imagine the cheese, gas, and heat coming out of the Dodgers bullpen in 2016? And no, this is not the beginning of a bathroom joke, but good thinking. (It does remind us though of the Vin Scully gas joke about kids smiling).
Imagine Manager Dave Roberts being able to employ the right-handed Jansen to face the best right-handed hitters in the 8th or 9th inning, or the left-handed Chapman against a lefty-leaning line-up for the 8th or 9th inning. How about seeing Jansen’s 94-97 MPH cutters and Chapman’s 100-103 MPH four-seam fastballs on a regular basis?
Except for the Mid-summer Classic, never in the history of baseball have two of the games’ most dominant closers been in the same bullpen. Let that sink in for a bit.
This creates many different options for the Dodgers and something that the team has been lacking for some time. Imagine an opposing team going through one of the deeper rotations in all of baseball, then to face Chapman and Jansen. Every fifth day hitters will see Clayton Kershaw (if he does not go nine innings), Chapman, and Jansen, or vice-versa. Good luck hitting them.
Here are some statistics to excite you:
In 2015, Jansen struck out 13.8 batters per nine innings and stranded 83.8 percent of runners on base. Despite missing the beginning of the season because of toe surgery, Jansen dominated. Jansen had a 2-1 record, 36 saves, 52.1 innings pitched, 80 strikeouts to 8 walks, and a 2.41 ERA.
In similar dominating fashion, but with a team under .500, Chapman went 4-4 with a 1.63 ERA, 33 saves in 65 appearances, and stuck out 116 batters in 66.1 innings. His career mark of 15.4 strikeouts per nine innings is the highest in baseball history among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched.
Despite their similar and traditional “closer” titles, we know Friedman has looked at the numbers and even those whom loathe advanced statistics have to appreciate the utter dominance these two would bring to the table.
On a related note, Friedman is at it again. He is reportedly utilizing a third team to acquire Jose Fernandez. Hmm, imagine that. Kershaw, Fernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Brett Anderson, and Alex Wood, with Jansen and Chapman and a solid bullpen crew of Yimi Garcia, J.P. Howell, Pedro Baez, Chris Hatcher, and Luis Avilan. Greinke “problem” solved.
All in favor, say aye. Aye!