Aroldis Chapman has been an enigma from day one for the Cincinnati Reds.
The club has flip-flopped about how to properly use him more times than a fish out of water over the last handful years. However, when push comes to shove, Chapman has always wound up in the bullpen instead of the starting rotation. After telling reporters at Redsfest earlier this month that he has no desire to start and wants to remain the closer, it looks like new skipper Bryan Price may be forced to give into his southpaw's request, which is reportedly against the will of Price, who has long been an advocate for Chapman to start.
Considering there continues to be a mixed bag of opinion on what to do with Chapman, coupled with the fact that Chapman wants nothing to do with anything outside of closing games, the Reds may find themselves in a conundrum of sorts, which is primarily why AJ Mass of ESPN Insider proposed on Friday that the Reds might be best served to consider trading him while his value is high.
Mass' comment comes after colleague Buster Olney penned a piece highlighting the top ten rotations in baseball earlier in the day. Here is an excerpt of what Olney had to say:
Former Manager Dusty Baker was never in favor of the idea of using Chapman as a starter, and Chapman himself has said he wants to continue being a reliever. But part of the split between Baker and the front office was over Chapman and his role, and Baker is now gone, while his replacement, Bryan Price, has advocated using Chapman in the rotation. It's worth noting, however, that on the Reds' own website, Chapman is listed as the closer.
Mass isn't the only one who thinks the Reds should consider trading Chapman. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer has went on the record in saying so, too. Here is a snippet taken from an article he wrote back in mid-December on the very same matter.
Chapman's 'I'm the closer' statement could not have set well with the front office. Chapman's greatest value is as a starter, but you can’t make him a starter if he doesn't want to start... the Reds have to at least consider moving him to rework the roster/payroll.
Whether or not Cincinnati actually tries to move Chapman is one thing. But pulling off such a move is quite another. This is because the window of opportunity seems to be closing this offseason. Outside of the Reds, most teams have been extremely active this winter, filling needs and holes that are no longer present. Of course, if the Reds were to seriously dangle Chapman on the market, then it would be safe to assume other teams would at least kick the tires on seeing what the Reds want in return.
Personally, I'm not totally sold on the idea of trading away such a valuable commodity as Chapman. Well, at least not right now. The Reds have already lost too much (Bronson Arroyo, Shin-Soo Choo, Ryan Hanigan) from last year's team that barely qualified for the postseason. And depleting the roster even more is likely to be counterproductive for a franchise that is still very much in a "win now" mentality.