Votto third in NL MVP vote

Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished third in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America National League Most Valuable Player Award race Thursday. Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper took home the award, while D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt came in second.

Harper, 23, was the unanimous winner by the BBWAA, finishing first on all 30 ballots.

The 2010 NL MVP, Votto batted .314/.459/.541 with 29 home runs and 80 RBIs in 158 games last season. His 1.000 OPS was third in the Majors behind Harper and Goldschmidt. Votto was also ranked fifth in the Majors with a value of 7.4 wins-above-replacement (WAR).

Votto discussed the outcome and a story will be posting soon on MLB.com/reds.com.


I’m not arguing that JV should have been the MVP – I just wish all the voters had seen his 11 pitch at bat in game 162. He literally never took a plate appearance off.

Well what is worse to me is that he finished third behind Goldfinger. If they did voting 3/4 through the season i get it, but Goldfinger faded down the stretch and Votto kept closing the gap on harper. Harper by far won though. Even John Fay looked confused giving Votto 5th place behind Goldfinger and others. Fay must be a WAR guy which includes a lot of pointless stats that players cant really help like RBIs. Even worse how could two leave Votto off completely. What are they looking at?

Same # AB’s; Goldy has more R, more HR, more RBI.

Here are their lines…

Let’s try that again…
…………….. G……PA…..AB…….R…….BB…..SO…..HR…..RBI

By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com | @JonathanMayo
They are decisions every Major League organization has to make this time of year. There are only so many open spots on a 40-man roster, and every November, teams have to decide which Minor League prospects deserve one of those coveted slots.

All 30 teams have to declare which players will be added to their 40-man roster by 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday. Players left unprotected will be exposed to selection by the 29 other teams in the Rule 5 Draft in December at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 years or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $50,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, slated to take place on Dec. 10. If that player doesn’t stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $25,000.
In other words, an international player or high school Draft pick signed in 2011 — assuming he was 18 or younger as of June 5 of that year — must be protected. A college player taken in the ’12 Draft is in the same boat. There were 11 players on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list who needed to be protected or become exposed to the Rule 5 Draft, led by Pirates right-hander Tyler Glasnow at No. 7.
* Indicates that a player has been added to his 40-man roster.
Rank, Name, Position, Organization
7. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates
12. Orlando Arcia, SS, Brewers
14. Nomar Mazara, OF, Rangers
* 25. Manuel Margot, OF, Padres
31. Josh Bell, 1B, Pirates
* 36. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds
41. Blake Snell, LHP, Rays
71. Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets
95. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals
98. Michael Fulmer, RHP, Tigers
99. Raimel Tapia, OF, Rockies
Those weren’t the only players under consideration. A total of 155 prospects who are on organizational Top 30 lists were vying for a roster spot.
Cincinnati Reds (3)
* No. 2 Robert Stephenson, RHP
No. 15 Aristedes Aquino, OF
* No. 17 Sal Romano, RHP

Do you think they will protect Aristedes Aquino as he is the remaing one?

All 3 great players with 2015 play BUT Dee Gordon outplayed them all this year and I don’t understand why he wasn’t even considered!?!?

Really? Umm not sure what you are looking at, but he was not even close. BA is the only stat he led in and is as useless as RBIs

Oh my gosh. We sign 30 yr old veteran. Last pitched for pirates. Thats worked well for us. Another week gone by. Nothing done. Imagine that

Orioles, Reds Have Discussed Jay Bruce; No Momentum Towards Deal
By Jeff Todd | November 20, 2015 at 10:33pm CST

The Orioles and Reds have engaged in discussions regarding Cincinnati outfielder Jay Bruce, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. But there isn’t any “momentum” toward a trade, at least at this point.

There’s a lot to like about Bruce as a player, but his trade value remains uncertain. He’s a perennial threat to hit 25 to 30 long balls, a quality baserunner, and a generally well-regarded defender in the corner outfield. But Bruce has fallen shy of the league average in OBP in each of the last two years and his defense and baserunning metrics have also dipped — though, it should be noted, DRS saw him as a +5 defender in right last year. Then again, the power is still there, as his .209 ISO in 2015 fell just shy of a .215 career mark. And youth is still on his side.

Bruce is still just 28 years of age as he enters his ninth big league season. He’ll earn $12.5MM in 2016 and can be controlled for the following year with a $13MM option — or be bought out for $1MM. That’s not exactly cheap given Bruce’s inconsistent results, but the O’s have payroll flexibility even after adding Wieters onto the ledger.

Whether or not discussions go anywhere, it’s worth considering Baltimore’s interest. The team is also said to have checked in on another short-term, high-priced lefty bat in Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, though Bruce makes for a more obvious fit given the team’s needs in the corner outfield. With Matt Wieters deciding to return on a pricey, one-year deal by accepting his qualifying offer, it could be that the O’s are looking to add quality veterans around him — and to fill in for the southpaw power production of Chris Davis — without over-committing for future seasons.

The Nationals have agreed to terms outfielder Chris Heisey on a minor league deal, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. Crasnick notes that Heisey will be reunited with Dusty Baker, who managed him with the Reds. After spending most of the previous several seasons in the big leagues, Heisey collected only 72 plate appearances with the Dodgers in 2015, instead spending most of the season at the Triple-A level (where he hit .223/.350/.445 in 302 plate appearances). Heisey’s batting average in the big leagues has decreased in each of the last three seasons, suggesting he’s lost a step offensively. He remains, however, a solid defender at any of the three outfield positions.

The Astros are “hell-bent” on acquiring a closer, sources tell ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The Astros have made calls on Aroldis Chapman of the Reds, Andrew Miller of the Yankees, and Brad Boxberger of the Rays, as well as potential free agent possibilities.

Maybe we can get Boxberger back, Kidding. The feeling at the time was it was mistake to let him go in the first place.

Stark’s take: Although the Astros did an excellent job of reconstructing their bullpen last winter, the one commodity they’ve lacked was a high-octane, swing-and-miss, power arm in the late innings. Among the 33 relievers who saved at least 15 games this season, closer Luke Gregerson ranked 24th in strikeout ratio, with 8.7 per nine innings. And of the five most-used Astros relievers, just one — left-hander Tony Sipp, who is now a free agent — averaged more than a strikeout per inning.

However, teams that have spoken with them say the Astros still appear unsure whether they want to give up the type of high-ceiling prospects it would take to deal for Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller or Ken Giles. So it’s still possible they could opt to try to stock the bullpen in front of Gregerson with high-velocity setup arms.

The Diamondbacks have had internal discussions about possibly signing Johnny Cueto, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Insider subscription required). It’s no secret that Arizona has been targeting pitching this offseason, as they’ve been linked to such names as Shelby Miller, Yovani Gallardo and John Lackey on the trade and free agency fronts. Those pitchers carry a much lower price tag than Cueto would on the open market, however, and it would be surprising to see the mid-market Snakes make a big splurge on the type of nine-figure contract it would take to land Cueto.

Don’t think Cueto fetches nine figures. Too much uncertainty.

Five potential trade destinations for Todd Frazier
David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
OK, so Todd Frazier is on the block. As Joe Sheehan wrote Tuesday, the Cincinnati Reds should have traded him back in July, when his trade value had peaked after a monster first half, when he hit .284/.337/.585. He slumped to .220/.274/.390 in the second half, however, and while he still had an excellent season with 35 home runs and 4.0 WAR, his overall line of .255/.309/.498 is a big drop from where he stood at the All-Star break.

The Reds are rebuilding — or should fully commit to a rebuild — and while Frazier could be viewed as a potential cornerstone piece, it makes sense to trade him. He has two years left until free agency, but more importantly he’s already entering his age-30 season, a late-bloomer who didn’t have his breakout season until he was 28. So it’s possible that by the time the Reds are able to compete again with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs, Frazier will be entering the decline phase of his career and could be expensive.

It’s never easy to trade such a popular player, but it’s the right move. Here are five teams that need a third baseman:

Todd Frazier hit a career-high 35 home runs in 2015. Andy Lyons/Getty Images
1. Cleveland Indians

With Lonnie Chisenhall now a right fielder, Cleveland’s third baseman is Giovanny Urshela, who has a solid glove but hit .225/.279/.330 as a rookie. I keep hearing how the Indians have depth in their rotation but I don’t exactly agree with that. They have a nice top three with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer has some upside as the No. 4, although he still walks too many and gives up too many homers. Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin are the other options. Trading Carrasco or Salazar opens up a pretty big hole and suddenly if somebody gets injured, you don’t have the depth. I certainly wouldn’t trade Carrasco or Salazar for two years of Frazier.

Joe suggested the Reds could be bold and ask for Bauer. That makes more sense, as the Reds gamble on Bauer putting it together and the Indians could then add a low-cost veteran for rotation depth. The Indians also have some interesting lower-level pitching prospects such as Rob Kaminsky and Justus Sheffield.

2. Chicago White Sox

The White Sox finished last in the majors in wOBA at both third base and second base, so should be looking to upgrade both positions. They have Mike Olt, a one-time highly rated third-base prospect, but he’s a career .168 hitter in 400 career major league plate appearances. Matt Davidson, acquired a couple years ago for Addison Reed, hit 23 home runs at Triple-A, but with a .203 batting average and 191 strikeouts. So he’s not the answer, either. This would more likely have to be a prospect trade, maybe somebody like hard-throwing right-hander Frankie Montas.

3. Los Angeles Angels

The Angels have Kaleb Cowart and Kyle Kubitza as third-base prospects, but both come with question marks. Cowart was a first-round pick in 2010, but he stalled out in the upper minors and was even sent back to Class A ball to start 2015. He hit .242 there in 51 games but was promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake City, where he hit .325/.395/.491, putting himself back on the prospect radar. Anyway, neither he nor Kubitza has much power and the Angels could also potentially re-sign David Freese. The farm is thin after trading away their top two prospects to acquire Andrelton Simmons, so there might not be a match here.

4. New York Mets

So here’s an idea: Move David Wright to first base, acquire Frazier, then trade Lucas Duda for bullpen help or a center fielder. The Mets were willing to trade Zack Wheeler for a year and two months of Carlos Gomez. Would they trade Wheeler for two seasons of Frazier?

5. Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox would have to essentially punt on Pablo Sandoval, whom they owe $59.8 million, to clear room for Frazier. But if they’re willing to eat a large chunk of that, maybe a National League team like the Padres or Brewers take a chance on him. The Red Sox are obviously going for it in 2016; do they want to count on Sandoval bouncing back from a -0.9 WAR season? Even after the Craig Kimbrel trade, the farm system still has plenty of talent with players like left-hander Brian Johnson or third baseman Michael Chavis who could interest the Reds.

Would love to see Zach Wheeler in red. But I would also like to see any of the formidable Reds that we trade play in the AL.

11/21, 7:43PM…
Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that Brad Ziegler may remain as the team’s closer. “With Ziegler doing the job that he has, I am looking to better ourselves more than likely in the front end versus the back end (of the bullpen),” Stewart said. The Snakes have been linked to several big-name relievers in offseason buzz, and their particular interest in Reds closer Aroldis Chapman goes back several months, though the Reds’ demand for two pre-arbitration Major Leaguers was too high for Arizona’s liking. “I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m just not in the mood to give up three or four players for one guy at the back end of my bullpen,” Stewart said, speaking not specifically of Chapman but of ace relievers in general.

November 22, 2015 at 12:06pm CST

Last week, Reds outfielder Jay Bruce had an opportunity to update his limited no-trade clause by changing the list of eight teams that he can block deals to. However, the 28-year-old decided to stand pat and keep the same clubs on his veto list, as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com writes. Bruce can block any proposed deal that would send him to the Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Marlins, A’s, or Twins.

That mix of small and large-market teams presumably shields Bruce from destinations he may prefer not to play in while affording him leverage if a big-spending AL East club were to come calling. Of course, the Orioles are the one AL East club that is not on the block list and they have become the most recent team to be linked to the Cincinnati outfielder. There isn’t any “momentum” toward a trade at this time, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, but it seems that the talks are at least active.

Bruce, 29 in April, will earn $12.5MM in 2016 and can be controlled for the following year with a $13MM option — or be bought out for $1MM. The Reds are willing to listen on everybody and GM Walt Jocketty said that he would “probably” be open to moving Bruce and Aroldis Chapman, despite his previous reluctance to do so. Bruce slashed .226/.294/.434 in 2015, numbers that were well below his best offensive work from 2010-2013.

“The Reds are willing to listen on everybody and GM Walt Jocketty said…”

What did our real GM say.

Jim Bowden suggests this trade:
Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals

Cincinnati is going to trade Aroldis Chapman this offseason, and the Nationals are one of several teams that match up well with the Reds. The Reds have needs at several positions, and because the Nationals have so much depth in the middle infield, outfield and the back of the bullpen, there are several packages that could work for both teams.

The Trade:

Reds would get: Drew Storen, Michael Taylor, Wilmer Difo

Nationals would get: Aroldis Chapman

Why it works:

Reds’ side: Chapman is a free agent after next season, and they have no plans of signing him to a contract extension. In Storen, they get a closer who was actually one of the National League’s best during the first half of last season but also is a free agent at season’s end. Storen, however, could be dealt at the July trade deadline to land more prospects. Taylor can play all three outfield positions and should be a 20-home run, 20-stolen base player but needs to improve his on-base percentage. Difo, 23, would be the real sleeper in this trade, as he profiles to be a .350 OBP hitter with 15-homer and 30-stolen base potential. Storen would give the Reds a short-term piece, while Taylor and Difo would give them the longer-term play.

Nationals’ side: The Nationals would get the most dominant left-handed reliever in the game to pair with right-hander Jonathan Papelbon at the back end of their bullpen. He improves their chances of winning the World Series next season dramatically, and the Nationals also have the financial wherewithal to extend Chapman with a longer-term contract extension if they so desire. A Chapman-Papelbon pairing would be comparable to the Yankees’ Dellin Betances-Andrew Miller combo and the Royals’ Wade Davis-Kelvin Herrera combo. Having that impact left-hander in the back end is also important for the postseason with so many elite left-handed hitters on contending teams.

I don’t care for this trade.

Agree, but then again I don’t like Jim Bowden.

Why would we trade for a premiere bullpen player (Storen) and two other also-rans, in a non-contentious year of rebuild…only to trade off the same in July in hopes of acquiring something we originally wanted, MLB almost-ready prospects?

Wonder what Williams has to say other than “talk to Walt”. Really would like to hear from him.

November 22 – 5:56PM-CST
Papelbon and Storen have been mentioned in rumors for some time now and sources tell Rosenthal that both are likely to be moved. Meanwhile, talk persists that the Nationals have been one of the clubs trying to pry closer Aroldis Chapman away from the Reds. All in all, it seems like Washington is looking for a major overhaul in their bullpen. Still, the Nats feel that a left-hander hitter is their biggest need and they could also be on the hunt for a starting pitcher.

The #Nationals have joined #Dodgers at top of the Darren O’Day pack, source says. Washington due for a bullpen revamp.

Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 22, 2015
Crasnick’s take: The Dodgers are making a strong play for free agent reliever Darren O’Day, but they have some significant competition. An MLB source says the Washington Nationals are also actively involved in discussions for O’Day, a 2015 All-Star who is a hot commodity this winter. The Nationals will most likely have to move Jonathan Papelbon and/or Drew Storen to create a spot for O’Day, who appears to be in line for a three- or four-year deal that will pay him between $8 million and $9 million annually. For the moment, O’Day, Joakim Soria, Ryan Madson and the other top free-agent relievers are waiting while trade talks for Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon and others shake out. Once the free agents start coming off the board, the dominoes could start falling quickly.

Jay Bruce can block trades to 8 teams: #RedSox, #Yankees, #Twins, #Dbacks, #Marlins, #Athletics, #BlueJays, #Rays.

Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 22, 2015
Crasnick’s take: Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce’s contract includes a clause that allows him to specify eight teams he can’t be traded to without his consent. The eight teams are: the Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Rays, Twins, Athletics, Blue Jays and Marlins. Bruce named those eight clubs a year ago and resubmitted the same list a week ago. While the list reflects an aversion to small-market, financially-challenged teams, Bruce’s decision to include Boston and New York appears to be rooted more in leverage: He has a $13 million club option for 2017, and the Red Sox or Yankees would likely have no difficulty exercising it if he were traded to them. More interestingly, the teams that seem to be the best trade fits for Bruce this offseason can acquire him without his permission. That includes the Angels and Orioles (who are both interested in him) and the Giants, Mets, Royals and other clubs who might jump into the fray given the right circumstances.

See where Travieso was picked as top 10 prospect from AFL. Should start AA in 2016 and hopefully reach AAA by end of season. Lots of pitching talent in the organization.

Nick Travieso | Rank: #6 (Preseason: 7)
Team: Daytona Tortugas (A Adv) ETA: 2017
Position: RHP Age: 21 DOB: 01/31/1994
Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6′ 2″ Weight: 225 lb.
Drafted: 2012, 1st (14) – CIN

Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
Sometimes repeating a level can be a good thing. Travieso spent his second season in the Class A Midwest League in 2014, still at age 20, and ended up leading the league in wins, while finishing sixth in WHIP and seventh in ERA. He continued his move in the right direction with strong pitching up a level in the Florida State League in 2015.

Travieso made some vast improvements in 2014, including seeing an uptick in fastball velocity from 2013, sitting in the 92-94 mph range more consistently. His slider looks like it will be at least a Major League average pitch when all is said and done. Travieso’s changeup is clearly his third pitch, but it, too, has improved some. Generally around the strike zone, Travieso can generate a good amount of groundball outs, while seeing his strikeout rate go up and his walk rate go down.

There might be more in the tank as Travieso appears to be trending upwards. A good feel for pitching combined with solid stuff is a good recipe for a future starter in the big leagues.

Dodgers Have Checked In On Aroldis Chapman
By Steve Adams | November 23, 2015 at 10:23am CST

Though the rotation is a more obvious area of need in Los Angeles, the Dodgers have nonetheless checked in on Aroldis Chapman, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. L.A. has recently been connected to Darren O’Day as well, and Heyman writes that they’re “very determined” to upgrade their bullpen however they can.

The Dodgers already possess one of baseball’s best closers in the form of Kenley Jansen It’s understandable that they’d be perhaps interested in acquiring help at the back end of the ‘pen because Jansen is a free agent next season, but so, too, is Chapman, thus making it a bit more of a questionable fit than a closer with more team control (e.g. Ken Giles, who is also rumored to be available).

Jansen and Chapman would, however, represent perhaps the most dominant late-inning duo in all of Major League Baseball, albeit at a highly premium cost. Chapman projects to earn $12.9MM this winter in his final offseason of arbitration eligibility, while Jansen is projected at a slightly more affordable (but still expensive, relative to his peers) salary of $11.4MM. The Dodgers typically operate with less regard for finances than any other club, however, so the notion of spending nearly $25MM on two relievers in a single season isn’t as outlandish for them as it would be another team.

Heyman does note that the Dodgers’ level of interest in Chapman isn’t yet known, though Chapman isn’t the type of player a team would kick the tires on in hopes of landing him at a bargain rate; president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and GM Farhan Zaidi know full well that Chapman will be moved for a relatively steep price. The Reds reportedly are seeking controllable, MLB-ready talent in exchange for Chapman, and Cincinnati president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty recently expressed hope that the Reds will get a trade worked out prior to the Winter Meetings, which begin in two weeks.

Sporting News
By Dan Weigel
Published on Nov. 23, 2015

As the hot stove continues to warm in the days leading to the Winter Meetings, one name that is almost certain to be dealt is Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman. The 27-year-old Cuban has provided tremendous value for his club during his six seasons in the league, posting a 2.17 ERA, a 42.9 percent strikeout rate, and 146 saves. Although he only has one year left on his contract, the All-Star closer can be expected to fetch a massive return for the rebuilding Reds.

Chapman’s fastball velocity has made him a folk hero among pitchers everywhere, and even led the present author to hang a poster of him on his college dorm room wall. He deserves every accolade resulting from his terrific velocity, but it would not be fair to stop our discussion of Chapman’s dominance there. The Reds’ closer now features a mature, three pitch arsenal that has made him a complete pitcher. Fastball velocity is difficult to hit on its own, but fastball velocity coupled with his advanced approach makes for a true relief ace.

Before getting to the rest of his arsenal, allow me to indulge you in a few fun stats about his velocity this season.

1. Chapman threw 336 pitches at least 100 mph. The next closest was Royals’ reliever Kelvin Herrera with 64.

2. Chapman threw 29.02 percent of his pitches at least 100 mph. Herrera was next best at 5.98.

3. Chapman’s average fastball velocity was 99.4 mph. Arquimedes Caminero was next at 97.8.

4. Chapman has all 50 entries on the MLB.com Statcast fastest pitches leaderboard, including a maximum of 103.9. This led MLB.com to create the “Chapman Filter” to see the fastest pitches thrown by someone other than Chapman.

5. As a result of his terrific extension up to 7.2 feet, Chapman has been able to add up to 2.1 mph of perceived velocity to his fastball, making a 103.1 mph pitch seem like 105.2 mph.

These are comical and make it seem like Chapman is playing a video game with a cheat code. That type of velocity is not close to matched and a big reason why Chapman has been terrific for Cincinnati and why he will fetch a massive return on the trade market.

But this is just the beginning of the book on Chapman. The lefty also throws a slider and a changeup to keep hitters off of his 99.4 mph heater with great success. He still throws the fastball 75.5 percent of the time, but the presence of two high-quality offspeed pitches strengthens his overall repertoire.

Pitch value statistics help us understand the worth of each individual offering by measuring the results of the pitch in runs per 100 pitches. These should not be taken as law, but they are a useful approximation. For Chapman, the run value per 100 pitches is shown in the chart below (chart would not copy).

Pitch…Percent of Pitches…Pitch Value (Runs/100 Pitches)
Fastball 75.0 1.18
Slider 16.8 1.29
Changeup 8.1 1.62

Especially considering the visual appeal and the hype surrounding the fastball, it is surprising to see the fastball check in last. The surprise factor certainly helps Chapman’s offspeed play up, and three numbers very close to one another signify an appropriate distribution pitch types. Make no mistake, his fastball is his best pitch, but in their complimentary roles, the offspeed pitches have been better on a per-pitch basis.

The Slider

The slider is the second-most used pitch in Chapman’s repertoire, checking in at 16.8 percent. His total usage rate with the pitch does not change based on the handedness of the batter, but the role of the pitch in the sequence changes slightly. Against righties the slider is typically deployed as an early or even count weapon, while against lefties the slider is used as a strikeout pitch. In both cases, however, the location of the pitch is largely the same, as displayed on the chart below.

This chart is from the catcher’s point of view, meaning that the sliders are away from a lefty and in to a righty. This is a common usage pattern for the pitch that strives to maximize the effectiveness of the offering to hitters on both sides of the plate. For a lefty against a lefty slider, the pitch appears to sit in the middle of the plate but breaks down, away, and impossible to reach out of the zone. For a righty facing Chapman’s slider, the offering will again appear to be a hittable pitch in the middle of the zone but break down and in towards the batter’s back foot, causing the batter to either swing on top of the ball or tap it weakly down the third base line.

The effectiveness of the pitch is expanded as a result of the velocity difference between his heater and slider. While the hard slider (or for the Mets’ staff, the Warthen slider) has become increasingly popular, Chapman’s version of the pitch gains deception from the 12.7 mph difference between his average fastball and average slider velocity. That figure is second among relievers with at least 60 innings pitched last season, with only Joakim Soria averaging a larger difference between the offerings. When a batter is geared up for 99.4 mph heat that is often perceived at more than 101 mph, a 12.7 mph difference in velocity makes it extremely difficult to find the timing for both pitches.

The Changeup

Chapman’s least utilized pitch, the changeup is a clear third offering with a specific role in his sequencing patterns. Despite being thrown in just 8.1 percent of all pitches, he increases the usage to 10 percent against righties and 18 percent when ahead against righties. Recall that he prefers the slider early in the count and even in the count against righties but is not as comfortable going to the pitch with two strikes. The changeup fills these gaps left by the slider to ensure that no matter the situation, he always has an offspeed pitch that he is comfortable throwing.

His command of the pitch is sometimes lacking and many changeups were mistakenly left up in the zone. In spite of this, the deception and velocity difference between the changeup and fastball have made it an effective offering. Of relievers with at least 60 innings pitched, the 11.3 mph difference between Chapman’s changeup and fastball ranks seventh behind renown changeup artists Tyler Clippard and Fernando Rodney, among others. Additionally, the changeup features 8.5 inches of lateral movement away from a righty, hardly an insignificant figure for a clear third pitch.

The most impressive aspect of Chapman’s complete repertoire is whiff rate on a per-pitch basis. The league average whiff rate is 9.9 percent, but Chapman wastes no time with single digit whiff rates or even whiff rates below 20 percent. Instead, his fastball generates whiffs at an outstanding 20.23 percent clip…the lowest of his three offerings. The slider misses bats at a 22.63 percent rate, but the champion among his pitches is surprisingly the changeup, with a 23.60 percent mark.


Chapman misses bats and wins fans with his unmatched fastball, but he is not a one-trick pony. The Reds closer has developed a mature understanding of a surprisingly deep arsenal that is capable of beating opposing hitters in multiple ways. Sure, blowing 101 by a hapless opponent is fun, but the addition of the changeup in 2014 to go along with his devastating slider makes the league’s most feared closer even more effective. Expect the Reds to get more than any team has ever received in a trade for one season of a relief pitcher, but also expect Chapman to be completely worth it.

Dan Weigel is a contributor at Sporting News focusing on pitching. Follow him on twitter at @DanWeigel38

Either we wait for a very good trade for Chapman, or I would hold him until the trade deadline next July when teams are fighting for their lives to make the playoffs and will give up talented prospects for the taste of extended play. We need to get incredible prospect talent for Chapman; not maybes and not others that we will need to trade later anyway. Chapman is worth his weight in gold, and other teams know it. He’s one year away from FA, but for a team flush with cash, the view isn’t merely for just 2016.

Honestly, I am beginning to think the Reds are asking for too much. Hope they don’t pass up a deal and then have to settle for less later. If we keep him into 2016, pray that he doesn’t suffer an injury. It’s like a big game of chicken.

In my opinion Harper or Goldschmidt are better than VOTTO. At least the other 2 have hitters behind them. After Votto there is no one to help out, except the rare times that Phillips hit behind him. The REDS need a lot, for sure they need a lot of
hitters. The December Meetings would be a great time to solve this but judging by the past there will b nothing done at all to improve this. Be some talk, only to have the excuses roll out on why nothing was done. Just wait and see REDS fans, no trades, no signings, no nothing. The REDS should give Arroyo another chance. He wants to come back and IF he is healthy he would be a BIG ASSET! BUT NO, this front office will do zero and another team will give Arroyo a chance. This GM could make some major moves to help the team, but sadly nothing will be done in any area to help–team needs hitters–a much better bench (not a bunch of cast offs)–much better middle relief–a closer IF a surprise trade of Chapman really happens–BUT–
like I have already commented many times Reds should save a lot of money by not sending anyone to the winter meetings as nothing will be done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Disagree this year. I think they will do something. Maybe too much. Maybe not enough. Maybe we won’t like it. Maybe we will. We shall see.

left out word “NOT” better than Votto in my first comment sentence. Votto is #1 MVP.

Just for chuckles and something to read, here is a list of FA’s (outfielders)…

Editor’s note: Now that free agency has started, Keith Law picks out possible best values, worst values and trade targets across every position group. He started with the catcher position Sunday, followed that with corner infielders and middle infielders, and now continues the annual series with a look at the outfielders who have hit free agency, as well as some potential trade targets.

The first three position areas I covered in this offseason’s buyers’ guides were all very thin, at least on the free-agent side of things. The outfield market, however, is loaded with free agents on the corners, while there are a couple of center field options who are or might become available in trade.

Top free agents

Jason HeywardJason Heyward, RF/CF: Heyward is the top free agent in my rankings for two reasons: He has been extremely valuable so far in his career thanks to superb defense and solid to great on-base skills; and, at 26 years old, he’s just entering the typical peak period for position players. That should drive tremendous interest in his services, especially coming off a season in which he posted the best batting average and lowest strikeout rate of his career. But it also gives potential employers reason, or perhaps a mix of reason and unreason, to hope for a better return on their investment than they might get from a typical top position-player free agent: He should hold his value longer, and there’s even a chance he’ll continue to get better. The Cardinals worked on his mechanics to improve his contact rate, but there’s still untapped power in there and a history of better walk rates. There are rarely bargains at the top end of the free-agent market, but Heyward at least offers the opportunity for good value.

Justin UptonJustin Upton, RF/LF: Upton is a bit of a poor man’s Heyward, a fairly young (28 entering 2016) position player who has tremendous tools and has shown star-caliber performance for brief periods but who hasn’t put it together for a whole season since 2011. He has 30-homer power, he has drawn walks in just over 10 percent of his career plate appearances, he has great bat speed, he has played above-average defense in some years of his career … and if you get one of those seasons when he does it all at once, you have an instant MVP candidate. He was a 6-WAR player once, and while that was four years ago, the physical tools are there for him to do it again. You just don’t want to pay him on the assumption that he’ll do it every year.
Yoenis CespedesYoenis Cespedes, LF/CF: Cespedes probably didn’t help his value with some defensive miscues in the World Series, although I’d like to think most general managers already knew what he is — a perfectly fine defender in a corner and an emergency-only guy in center. The narrative around him was very strong in August, but by the end of the year he looked a lot like the player he always has been: huge power, hard contact, not much patience, and the aforementioned defense. Entering his age-30 season, he’s still a pretty good bet to hold value for a while but doesn’t offer the tantalizing upside of the two free-agent outfielders above him.

Non-top 50 free agents of note

Nori AokiNori Aoki, LF/RF: Aoki has settled into a nice niche as a second-tier starting outfielder who gets on base, shows no real platoon split despite being a left-handed hitter, and can play capable defense in left field and probably right field as well. The lack of power makes it hard to envision him as an everyday corner outfielder for a good club, although his specific skill set might appeal to a team that’s power-heavy and OBP-light, like the 2015 Astros, Orioles, and Mariners all were. He’s 33 and coming off a concussion, so a small one-year deal should be all he wants, especially after the Giants declined his $5.5 million option, making him a free agent.

Chris DenorfiaChris Denorfia, OF: Denorfia is a great fourth outfielder — he can play both corners, is an emergency center fielder (like an act of God, the sort of emergency your insurance won’t cover), has good contact skills, and has shown in the past that he’ll take the occasional walk. Compared to the other fourth-outfielder options on the market, he looks pretty good for a year and maybe $1.5 million or so.

Carlos MoncriefCarlos Moncrief, RF/LF: The list of minor league free-agent outfielders includes a lot of once-famous guys — such as Donavan Tate, the third overall pick in 2009 who has been terrible when he hasn’t been suspended for drug use or injured — but Moncrief, while not that widely known, is at least a little bit interesting to anyone hunting for value in someone who’ll sign a Triple-A deal. Moncrief was converted from the mound to the outfield at age 21, and seemed on track for a major league career of some sort through Double-A, where he hit .284/.354/.470 at age 24 in 2013. He was adequate in his first go-round at Triple-A and saw his BABIP plummet over 100 points there in 2015, “earning” a midseason demotion to Akron. He has a good arm and is fine in right field, with some pop, a little speed, and a good eye at the plate, especially for a converted guy. I’d take a shot at him for my Triple-A roster if he wasn’t going to get in the way of a right- or left-field prospect.

Trade targets

Aaron HicksAaron Hicks, CF, Minnesota Twins: The Twins are comically overloaded with young, cheap outfield talent right now, with Byron Buxton the heir apparent in center, Eddie Rosario the most likely lad in left, and überprospect Max Kepler ready to step into right field if they allow it. They may also sign Korean first baseman Byung Ho Park after winning the posting bid on him last week, which will cause some sort of ripple effect on their roster, possibly pushing Trevor Plouffe out, or sending Miguel Sano to right field. No matter how you slice it, however, Aaron Hicks seems to be the most imminent victim of the roster crunch, right after establishing himself as a viable everyday player in center, hitting .259/.333/.432 as a regular after returning from a forearm injury in late June. He’s a plus-plus runner with a 70 or 80 arm in center, and his defense could still improve as he’s more reliant on pure speed than good reads or efficient routes. He has yet to show much production against right-handed pitching, but killed lefties in 2015, and at least has hit right-handers in Double-A and Triple-A the last two years. The free-agent market is deep in corner outfielders but has no center fielders to match Hicks’ potential with the glove and bat, giving the Twins a great opportunity to use him to add some depth to the rotation.

Editor’s note: Hicks was indeed traded. He was dealt to the Yankees on Nov. 11 for John Ryan Murphy.

Carlos GonzalezCarlos Gonzalez, RF, Colorado Rockies: The oft-injured Gonzalez is due $37 million over the next two years, which he’s probably worth if he’s healthy, but not to the Rockies, who aren’t likely to contend in either season and could really stand to deal for some more starting pitching. Gonzalez bounced back from a lost 2014 season to post a 3.1 WAR in 156 games for the Rockies, with the usual concerns — he doesn’t hit well outside of Coors, as he’s always had trouble with pitches that wiggle, and he was a cipher against left-handed pitching. I don’t know exactly what a team that plays at sea level would get out of Gonzalez’s bat — a sub-.300 OBP with 25 homers seems well within reason — but a plus defender in right with power still has some value, even if it’s not quite the $18.5 million per year he’s owed.

Marcell OzunaMarcell Ozuna, OF, Miami Marlins: Ozuna posted a 4.5 WAR in 2014, thanks to his 23 homers and outstanding defense in center, but he’s long had a poor approach at the plate and it caught up to him in 2015, while his defense wasn’t up to its previous level. He’s still due the minimum salary for one more year, after which he hits arbitration, and for a team that needs a cheap solution in center he makes sense — but I’ve never been a big believer in his ability to make enough contact to get to that power, or to ever post an adequate OBP. My concerns could be overblown given what he did in 2014; even half that WAR total would make him a screaming bargain at half a million bucks.

Cameron MaybinCameron Maybin, CF, Atlanta Braves: Maybin is due $8 million in 2016, plus $1 million on a buyout of his $9 million option for 2017, a reasonable if slightly high salary given the player he appears to be today: below-average defensively in center, with offense that would be solid for a center fielder who could play average defense at the position. He’s a second-division starter there, maybe an average starter if he moved to left or right and his defensive output perked up. His season in Atlanta would have looked better had he not suffered a scratch in his eye in early September, costing him eight games, after which he hit .260/.269/.260 the rest of the way … which might have had nothing to do with the eye issue, of course. For a team that needs an outfielder but has the flexibility to move Maybin to a corner or split his time in center with a better glove, he could be pretty good value.

OK. I’m chuckling. Seriously, I want our current youth to get a chance. Interesting discussion on MLB Insiders last night about how the old way of slowly bringing players up through the Minors is being displaced and younger and younger players are being given the opportunity to play on the big stage much sooner.

Many times I have commented that I don’t believe the Reds will make any trades during or anytime after the winter meetings. Of course I can be wrong but judging by the past not much has occurred in the past. Personally I would like to see the team get the mush needed offense, a much better bench & overhaul the middle relief. Hopefully the starting pitchers are with the team. A lot of young arms have been added, plus give Stephenson a chance to help. For offense I do hope Duvall, Winker, Ervin, Yorman R., among others will get LONG looks. If Mesaroco can come back as he was n 2014 that would be a much needed asset. Reds have got to have an every day good power-hitting LF, better hitting/production from RF and CF has to be vastly improved. Middle relief in 2015 was not very good at all, IF Chapman is traded, then who will close as no one on the team now can handle the job. Plus if Chapman, Phillips are to be involved in a trade REDS better get a lot in return, especially for Chapman. Frazier should demand a good return & so should Bruce IF any are to go.
Oh well, I can dream. It’s what makes baseball great. PLEASE REDS, get some big time hitters to back Votto.

Very interesting article by Rob Nyer at Fox Sports on the “Coming of the 3 pitcher rotation” as the new revolution in baseball. Thought provoking. starters go 5 innings or 75 pitches or 2 times through the lineup and the bullpen takes over. Of course it doesn’t apply to trully ace pitchers like Price, Cueto, etc. The Reds do not have an ace.

Trading for Aroldis Chapman
by Jeff Sullivan – November 23, 2015

Sometime soon, Aroldis Chapman is going to get traded. But don’t just take my word for it:

I mean, yeah, on the one hand, nothing close. But on the other hand, how often do front offices establish public timelines? The Reds want to trade Chapman, and they want to do it soon, and they want to get a certain type of package back:

That’s not surprising. Every team wants more big-league-ready young players. Those are some of the game’s most valuable assets. Nick Cafardo, meanwhile, offered something that raises the eyebrows:

The Reds listened to Boston’s pitch for Chapman but required more than the Red Sox offered for Kimbrel, and the Sox weren’t comfortable going the extra mile for a pitcher who can become a free agent after 2016.

That’s too much. It’s unconfirmed, but regardless, that’s too much. Still, it brings to mind the question: what’s the right price? If you’re looking to trade for Aroldis Chapman, how far should you go before things stop being reasonable?

Trade negotiations are complicated. All negotiations are complicated. Yet this can be simplified quite a bit. Aroldis Chapman has one remaining year of team control, then he’s eligible to become a free agent. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Chapman is projected to earn about $13 million next year. Let’s assume a team trading for Chapman won’t immediately work out an extension. Chapman will cost $13 million or so for one year. What would you pay him for that one year as a free agent?

That’s the key to this. That’s how you can start putting numbers to ideas and a name exchange. What would Chapman make on the open market on a one-year deal? If he does well enough, you can extend a qualifying offer at the end, to get a draft pick back. There’s certainly some value there. But the most important thing here is the salary.

The highest average annual value of any baseball contract ever is $31 million. The highest for a reliever ever is $15 million. Not that these are the best possible comps, since Chapman is unique and the hypothetical situation is unusual, but these are decent references. Take the first one. Now, the average salary is driven down by the length of the contract. The contract builds in an expected decline, which for one year of Chapman wouldn’t be a factor. But then, Chapman doesn’t impact a team in the way that Miguel Cabrera does, either. Chapman is a short-inning specialist. A high-leverage specialist, but a specialist nevertheless. Depending on how things go, Chapman might not ever appear in a given game. Cabrera plays every game if he’s healthy.

I’ll throw a number out there. $25 million. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think a free-agent Chapman could sign for one year and $25 million. For the sake of example, let’s work with this. What’s the difference here? Take the $25 million, and subtract the expected $13-million arbitration reward. And then let’s add back in…$5 million, say, for the potential compensation pick. Then the difference between Chapman’s value and Chapman’s real salary comes out to about $17 million. Put in words others of you will recognize, you can think of that as surplus value. Perceived surplus value is what teams act on, even if they don’t think of it like that. I know the words make a few of you shudder, but remember, we’re just building an example.

Here are estimates of the surplus values of some prospect types. We’ve linked to this a bunch of times before. Everything is estimation, but the research is incredibly helpful. Some argue these estimates are actually a bit low. But sticking with what we have — $17 million — then, for one year of Chapman, you’d give up a non-elite pitching prospect, or a position-player prospect ranked around the middle of the top-100. Let’s now say, instead, you think Chapman could sign for $30 million, instead of $25 million. Then you just bump up the surplus value by $5 million. Position-player prospect a little north of No. 50. Good young pitcher, maybe with some warts.

That puts you in the ballpark. And what should be immediately clear is that the Reds can’t expect to receive an elite prospect for Chapman alone. At least, they shouldn’t; you never know how another human will act. The Reds might be holding out hope, but you figure there are reasons why Chapman hasn’t been traded yet. No one has met the ask, not in the last month, and not around the last deadline.

With surplus value, I know things feel theoretical. A problem with Chapman, of course, is it’s not easy to find comparable players. Kenley Jansen hasn’t been traded. Of note, though: Craig Kimbrel has. He was traded very recently! The situations aren’t alike, and they aren’t identical pitchers, but Kimbrel is at least near to being on Chapman’s level. The last three years, Kimbrel has allowed a .496 OPS, and Chapman has allowed a .500 OPS. People talk about how Kimbrel is declining, but his stuff hasn’t gotten any worse. He’s still almost impossible.

Kimbrel’s going to get paid either $25 million over two years or $37 million over three. That’s locked in. By prospect values, the Red Sox seemingly paid something like $55 – 60 million in surplus value. Putting it all together, the Red Sox apparently value Kimbrel north of $30 million a season. Perhaps even around $40 million the next two seasons.

And Chapman is probably a bit better than Kimbrel. Yet it’s worth remembering that one trade doesn’t set the market. Industry opinion is that the Red Sox overpaid. They paid more than the Padres paid to get Kimbrel from the Braves in the first place. There are alternatives to Chapman — a team could try to trade for Mark Melancon, or sign Darren O’Day, or what have you. The Tigers picked up Francisco Rodriguez. They’re not as good as Chapman, but it’s not like it has to be Chapman or bust. Other teams don’t need to meet the Red Sox’s Kimbrel price.

But just for fun, let’s say you put Chapman at $45 million in one year. Crazy, but, here we are. $5 million bonus for a potential compensation pick. But, also, $13 million in salary. So you’re around $37 million in upper-bound surplus value.

That would get you…a Manuel Margot. Maybe a pitching prospect somewhere around No. 10 – 15. You can add a low-level throw-in so it isn’t just a one-for-one, but that’s about the limit. And the realistic case is south of this. If the Reds were to get this kind of offer, they should pounce right away. They shouldn’t just hold out for a Kimbrel package, because the odds of that materializing are like a tenth of one percent.

It’s going to cost talent to get Aroldis Chapman. For a few teams, perhaps that means the guy at the top of the top-prospect list. But this shouldn’t become an elite-prospect blockbuster. Chapman’s just unlikely to stuff that much value into one season. I’d assume the rest of baseball knows that.

The early adjectives being used by evaluators to describe the 2016 MLB draft class are “fine” and “muddled,” as the class has no clear-cut top pick — though several prospects, especially our top three arms, have a chance to ascend to that level next spring — but is teeming with prospects worthy of late-first or sandwich-round grades.

The draft’s top 10 picks will be made, in order, by the Philadelphia Phillies (their first top-overall selection since they drafted Pat Burrell out of Miami in 1998), Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox. The strength of teams’ draft and international bonus pools will also look something like that, though pool amounts will be impacted by free agency and trades in the coming months. The slot (signing bonus) value of the Phillies’ No. 1 overall selection is projected to be close to $9 million. (For the sake of comparison, considering that Burrell signed a five-year, $8 million major league deal with a $3.15 million bonus in ’98.)

We’re doing a little something different this year. Rather than simply ranking all the draft prospects on one diverse list, we’ve separated them by tier and expanded our number or profiles (to 40). The top 30 rankings are included in a separate box.

Upper-crust arms

Jason Groome, LHP, Barnegat (New Jersey) HS
Hulking 6-foot-6 lefties who can throw in the mid-90s don’t exactly grow on trees, and if that were all Jason Groome had going for him, it’d be enough to merit first-round consideration. But Groome also has an above-average curveball that easily projects to plus, inconsistent but present changeup feel and a delivery that affords him surprising command projection for an arm this big and young. And I do mean young; Groome doesn’t turn 18 until August 2016, making him one of the youngest players in his class. His combination of age, size, mechanical cleanliness and geographical location enables scouts and executives to dream for much more than what is already here, even though what’s already here is tantalizing.
2016 MLB draft player rankings

Alec Hansen, RHP, Oklahoma
The 6-foot-7 behemoth was electric but inconsistent during his sophomore year with the Sooners, struggling to throw strikes the way young power pitchers his size often do. When he’s keeping his delivery direct to the plate instead of falling off the mound toward first base during his release, he throws his 94-98 mph fastball for quality strikes in the bottom of the zone. Hansen backs that up with a plus-flashing breaking ball in the 77-83 mph range, and he has shown some feel for a changeup as well, though it has been only fringe-average to average in his best starts. So no, Hansen isn’t presently a riskless generational talent; he falls short of that kind of praise because the changeup and command simply aren’t far enough along to merit it, and because forearm soreness kept him from pitching in a fall series last week. (Quick side note: He has a screw in his right elbow from a prior medial epicondyle fracture, an injury that results from the growth plates in the elbow not fusing correctly and is not uncommon in young baseball players. Hansen had the surgery at age 14, and while the screw could have been removed by now, doing so has been deemed unnecessary by the surgeon, Rockies team doctor Tom Noonan.) But he has shown progress, and he has unteachable size, velocity and the ability to spin a good breaking ball. With a healthy, efficient spring, he could become a viable top-pick candidate.

A.J. Puk, LHP, Florida
Puk’s stuff waxed and waned a good bit this year. He featured a consistent mid-90s fastball and plus breaking ball in some starts, while in others he sat “only” 91-94 mph with a breaking ball that only flashed plus. The command and changeup are a bit behind, both below average, and some scouts are turned off by the uniqueness of his delivery while others think it adds an element of deception to his stuff. Puk’s performance against the best conference in college baseball using basically two good pitches — he had 55 strikeouts in 35 SEC innings this year — certainly lends credence to the latter group’s theory.

An early look at the top 30 prospects for the 2016 MLB draft.
1. Jason Groome LHP High school
2. Alec Hansen RHP Oklahoma
3. Blake Rutherford OF High school
4. A.J. Puk LHP Florida
5. Corey Ray OF Louisville
6. Connor Jones RHP Virginia
7. Reggie Lawson RHP High school
8. Brandon McIlwain OF High school
9. Delvin Perez SS Puerto Rico
10. Nick Banks OF Texas A&M
11. Mickey Moniak OF High school
12. Bo Bichette IF High school
13. Cal Quantrill RHP Stanford
14. Matt Krook LHP Oregon
15. Riley Pint RHP High school
16. Avery Tuck RF High school
17. Nolan Jones IF High school
18. Will Benson RF High school
19. Kyle Lewis OF Mercer
20. Alex Speas RHP High school
21. Ian Anderson RHP High school
22. Forrest Whitley RHP High school
23. Ryan Boldt CF Nebraska
24. Matt Manning RHP High school
25. Bobby Dalbec 3B Arizona
26. Jesus Luzardo LHP High school
27. Joe Rizzo 3B High school
28. Alex Kirilloff OF/1B High school
29. David Hamilton SS High school
30. Alexis Torres SS Puerto Rico

Suggested Red’s trade…
Jim Duquette
Reds trade closer Aroldis Chapman to the Astros for OF Daz Cameron and RHP Michael Feliz
The Astros have been hunting for a lights-out closer since the Trade Deadline and Chapman is the perfect fit. However, he has only one year left on his contract, which means the package would not be the same quantity as the one the Padres just received for Kimbrel, who has three years left on his deal.
But the quality would need to be matched and that is why it would cost the Astros Cameron (No. 3 prospect) and Feliz (No. 6). Cameron could have been a top-five pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, but he fell to the Astros at No. 37 because of signability concerns. Like his father, Mike, he’s got tremendous talent. Feliz is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, and has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. If he can’t refine his secondary stuff and become an impact starter, he could be scary coming out of the bullpen.

Johnny Cueto Turned Down Offer From Diamondbacks
By Zach Links | November 29, 2015 at 6:48pm CST

6:48pm: D’Backs GM Dave Stewart tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he visited Cueto in the Dominican Republic prior to meeting with Dixon, and that Cueto already turned down one contract offer from the club. Stewart said the D’Backs are still interested in Cueto and understood why the initial offer was rejected. “When you’ve still got the two big guys who haven’t done anything yet, [David] Price and [Zack] Greinke, you kind of want to wait,” Stewart said. “Depending on how [Dixon] sees his client, and he probably sees his client above [Jordan] Zimmermann, it puts you in a situation where you want to wait and see what happens.”

Though Stewart didn’t specifically comment on Rosenthal’s reported gap in Cueto’s asking price and the Diamondbacks’ comfort zone, he did imply that his team may have to spend more in order to land the righty.

“I guess ultimately that decision is going to be made by ownership, if we can go there,” Stewart said. “Having a conversation with him gave us an idea of what’s going to happen and what he’s thinking. We’re going to have to wait and see how this thing plays out.”

1:18pm: The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto‘s agent last week, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The expectation, however, is that Cueto’s price will exceed with Arizona is comfortable with paying. The D’Backs want to spend roughly $15MM-$18MM on a free agent starter, while Cueto figures to get more than $20MM per year (link).

Earlier this month, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported that the D’Backs were discussing Cueto internally, so it seems that they have at least taken the next step by reaching out to agent Bryce Dixon. Pitching names like Shelby Miller, Yovani Gallardo and John Lackey have been linked to Arizona via trade and free agency, but those arms would come with a much more modest price tag than Cueto. Names like Jeff Samardzija and Kenta Maeda represent some of the pricier options that have been mentioned as possible targets for Arizona.

There have been whispers about Cueto’s injured elbow affecting his market, but in a recent interview, Dixon made the case that if Cueto had been hurt, he wouldn’t have been able to deliver such strong results for the Royals in two of his postseason outings. Overall, though, Cueto did not give the Royals exactly what they expected when they acquired him over the summer. In 13 regular starts, Cueto posted a 4.76 ERA. He also pitched poorly in two of his four postseason outings.

Recently, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes ranked Cueto as the offseason’s No. 8 free agent and pegged him for a five-year, $115MM deal.

10:00pm: The Diamondbacks’ offer was for six years and $120MM, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports. The $20MM average annual value of the rejected offer already surpasses the $15MM-$18MM range cited by Rosenthal.

November 29th – 11:57PM-CST…
The reliever market is widely expected to heat up this week, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick explains in a series of tweets. Part of the logjam has been due to the fact that two star closers (Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon) are on the trade block, so teams are exploring trade options before looking at free agents. Over a third of league is currently looking for relief pitching help — Crasnick lists the Astros, Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, Pirates, Red Sox, Royals and Tigers.
Several bits of Indians roster speculation are discussed by Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in his latest reader mailbag. Highlights include Hoynes’ belief that Lonnie Chisenhall will still be with the Tribe next season rather than be traded or non-tendered this winter, doubt that Jay Bruce would be a legitimate Indians trade target and the idea that Wilin Rosario might be of some interest to add pop to Cleveland’s lineup.

Latest On Johnny Cueto’s Asking Price
By Steve Adams | November 30, 2015 at 11:52am CST

Johnny Cueto reportedly rejected a six-year, $120MM contract offer from the D-Backs recently, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick now reports that teams in the market for Cueto believe he’s seeking $140-160MM in total — a contract that would vault him into Jon Lester territory (Twitter link). According to Crasnick, the Diamondbacks initially planned to offer Cueto about $110MM but upped their offer to $120MM late in talks (Twitter link). The increase, however, wasn’t enough to get the job done.

It would seem, then, that Cueto’s camp is seeking a contract that doesn’t offer any sort of reduced rate due to the minor elbow issues that plagued Cueto this summer or due to his late-season struggles. Cueto was masterful in his first four outings with the Royals, pitching to a 1.80 ERA in 30 innings, including a complete-game shutout of the Tigers. However, he limped to a 6.49 ERA over his final nine starts (51 1/3 innings). There were a few quality starts mixed in toward the end, but many speculated as to whether Cueto was fully healthy. Cueto and Salvador Perez reportedly worked to adjust where Perez would set the target for Cueto’s pitches, but he still had mixed results from that point forth.

Cueto’s postseason was a true mixed bag — one so-so start, one meltdown and a pair of dominant gems in pivotal games. His final outing — a one-run complete game over the Mets in Game 2 of the World Series — was a nice final impression to make as he headed into free agency. Nevertheless, Cueto’s overall body of work following his mild elbow flare-up and trade to the Royals saw him yield 58 earned runs in 106 1/3 innings (4.91 ERA) with a 75-to-27 K/BB ratio and 118 hits (13 homers) allowed.

None of that is to say that Cueto can’t or shouldn’t secure a hefty payday, of course. Despite those issues, the perception of Cueto has remained that he’s one of the three or four best starters on the market (depending on one’s feelings about Jordan Zimmremann), and we at MLBTR still projected him to clear $100MM with relative ease (though the $120MM he rejected already surpassed our most recent $115MM figure). Prior to those issues, a Lester-esque contract was a perfectly reasonable expectation for Cueto, and the possibility that he exceeded that figure was certainly present. Cueto, after all, logged a 2.48 ERA in 677 1/3 innings from 2011-14 despite pitching his home games in one of baseball’s most hitter-friendly parks, and he carried a similarly elite 2.62 ERA and a 120-to-29 K/BB ratio through 130 2/3 innings with the Reds this season.

Cueto is a clear front-line starter when healthy and at his best, and he’s entering the open market heading into his age-30 season, having not yet even celebrated his 30th birthday as of this writing. That he’s already received a $120MM offer suggests that the demand for his services is strong, which certainly plays into his camp’s favor as the Winter Meetings approach.

The Cardinals announced that they have signed catcher Brayan Pena to a two-year contract.

For all of us who were waiting for the Reds to get a big bat. From Matt Eddy of Baseball America:
“The Reds have signed former big leaguer Brandon Allen to a minor league deal. The powerful first baseman hasn’t seen the Majors since 2012 and is a career .203/.290/.375 hitters in 389 PAs in the Majors. He’s crushed Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .276/.372/.502 batting line, however, making him a useful bat to stash at the team’s top minor league level.”

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