Sox interested in Chapman? Closer a big prize
Reds' willingness to listen to offers could open door to potential trade
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Of all the impact pitchers the Red Sox have a chance to acquire this offseason, it's safe to say that none would create more excitement than Aroldis Chapman.
The lefty reliever dominates the stat sheet and lights up the radar gun like few others ever have, and the Reds are willing to listen to offers.
"We'll listen on anybody," said Reds president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty. "We're willing to listen, and I think we have to in our situation. We're not going to trade guys just for the purpose of trading them. We have to make sure we get the right value to build this team into a contending club for the next couple years."
Much like the Reds will listen to anybody, the Red Sox will inquire on just about anybody who can pitch at an elite level.
Not only that, but Boston has a deep pool of prospects and also depth at key areas (center field, starting pitching, catcher) that would allow them to trade quality Major League players in the right deal.
After finishing in last place the past two seasons, the Red Sox are eager to get back into contention, and their ability to do so will depend largely on how much they can upgrade their pitching.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has proven at every stop in his career that he's not afraid to think big, and this offseason is no exception.
"Well, yeah, because I dream wild, so sure," Dombrowski said. "My best possibilities sound great. But unfortunately I can't just enforce those on my own. I can't enact them. Those best-case scenarios would be fantastic, yeah. But I'd have to say the realistic ones, you wouldn't pursue them unless you felt good about them."
Dombrowski is casting a wide net in his quest for difference-makers on the mound, so it's a safe bet he will at least engage in some dialogue with the Reds.
Chapman has been as dominant as any reliever in the game in recent years, and he didn't slow down in 2015. In 65 appearances, he registered a 1.63 ERA and struck out 116 over 66 1/3 innings. At the age of 27, Chapman is still very much in his prime, which means the Reds can justifiably ask for a lot in return.
"I have maintained all along that if we're going to make moves for some of the pitching that we would ideally like to make, you're going to be happy with whom you acquire, but you're also going to be pained [by] what you give up -- either from a financial perspective or a trading perspective," said Dombrowski. "People aren't just going to fall in your lap or have somebody say, 'Here, take this guy.' And they're going to be real good for you."
One wrinkle is that Chapman can become a free agent at the end of the 2016 season. The Red Sox, who traditionally have an upper-echelon payroll, could be in a position to retain him if they are able to trade for him.
In Dombrowski's talks with other clubs at the General Managers Meetings, does he think his club can lure in a stud reliever in a trade?
"I really don't know. We're talking to a lot of different people about a lot of different things and relievers," Dombrowski said. "I couldn't really lay the odds on it. We are having active conversations with a lot of people."
The Red Sox have closer Koji Uehara under contract for one more year, but he'll be 41 when the season starts. In the past, Uehara has been every bit as dominant as a setup man. Given the type of teammate Uehara has always been, it's doubtful he would make waves if the Red Sox brought in a closer like Chapman, or Craig Kimbrel for that matter.
"I don't know him well to answer that question, but our staff members feel he would do what's necessary, what's good for the Red Sox," Dombrowski said. "But I can't answer that with 100 percent."
Though the Red Sox owe Uehara $9 million next season, Dombrowski doesn't think that would prevent the club from having another reliever who makes that type of salary.
"I think so," Dombrowski said. "I think we could do that, but there are more and more clubs going to that model so I think we could do that."
Chapman made $8 million after avoiding arbitration last season, and he figures to get a raise this offseason.