Oct 2, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) in the dugout before playing the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
It was announced yesterday that the Reds have traded Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees in exchange for a package of four prospects. Curiously this is now the second time this off season Chapman has been trade to a gargantuan budget team, the first coming apart when slightly before being locked in the Cuban Missile found himself in crisis (forgive me).
Regardless of which team Chapman ended up on is unimportant, what is not unimportant is the fact that he will not be on the Marlins next season. Further it’s important to understand why that is a good thing.
Aroldis Chapman is an outstanding pitcher, there’s no question about it. Last season he was essentially in a three way tie with Cody Allen and Dellin Betances (0.1 behind Allen and ahead of Betances) for the lead in WAR among all relievers. Drive that sample back to 2010, when Chapman entered the league, and he is second behind only Craig Kimbrel.
Now here’s the long awaited but, all of that is relative to other relievers. The WAR I didn’t site earlier but told you led the league in 2015 was 2.5, and since 2010 it’s been 12.5. Those may sound like big numbers but consider this, his 2015 season value was equivalent to Trevor Plouffe’s, would you give up four prospects if the return was 1 year of Trevor Plouffe at 8 million dollars?
Great closers are the most overrated assets in all of baseball. Even if they reach soaring strikeout figures and are the stingiest of stingy when it comes to run prevention, they will do so while pitching 60-70 innings a year, most often one inning at a time, and only when their team is already ahead.
That last point is the most important, closers are accessories needed only by already talented teams. They come in at the moment of highest leverage in order to shorten the game and prevent the opposition from overcoming a deficit, but do nothing whatsoever to build that deficit, nor shrink it if it is in favor of the wrong team. If the closers team is not already good enough to deliver frequent save opportunities then he is essentially stuck on the bench providing absolutely no value.
So would it have been nice to bring in Chapman? Sure, but the cost would have been far to prohibitive, and the Fish are in much more urgent need elsewhere.