Alex Anthopolous and the new Toronto Blue Jays management continue to impress at every turn with the new, improved, and might I add bold, direction the team has taken. While most analysts and bloggers expected one of the big budget and free wheeling teams to sign the prospect from Cuba, the Reds and Jays did their homework, made sure they ponied up the money it was going to take to get him, and the Reds got the guy they wanted. Instead of waiting around until the draft comes along this summer, Alex got his staff to evaluate Aroldis properly and almost made the deal happen, completing the paperwork while on his honeymoon of all places. Even though the Jays didn’t land the big Cuban, I believe that the Jays did all that could be expected, offering more money than they ever have for an International prospect.
Now that Aroldis is a Red, the next question becomes where Aroldis will begin the year. Will it be in AA or AAA? Whatever the case, he’ll join Edinson Volquez, Homer Bailey, and Johnny Cueto at some point in the near future to provide the Reds with what could be a great 1-2-3-4 punch. While some analysts are saying it makes little sense for a small budget team like Cinci to grab someone like Chapman, I say non-sense, it makes perfect sense. The only prominent pitchers close to being MLB ready or just starting out are Matt Maloney and Travis Wood. Neither are stellar 1-3 prospects and they were listed as #8-#7 prospects respectively for the Reds by BA in 2010. They do have 2009 first rounder Mike Leake who could round out that rotation in 2012 to give the Reds one stellar rotation. In any case, the depth they had in prospect SP was extremely shallow and needed greater numbers with the injuries they’ve had to deal with recently. So, it makes perfect sense that they grab Aroldis.
The price of the transaction for the Reds was steep and you have to wonder whether they’ll be able to afford to add other pieces in the next 2-3 years when you combine this move with the extension to Scott Rolen. The Reds had to be aggressive in order to get Aroldis to sign with a rebuilding team and to pry him away from going to the LAA, where his mentor and workout partner Kendry Morales currently plays, but it is very reasonable when you consider the fact that pitchers in MLB are currently getting much higher amounts even when there is no expectation of improved performance.
While I tip my hat to the Reds for beating the Jays to the punch, I am split on the result for the Jays. While it does mean that they don’t get to bring the Cuban phenom to Toronto, it also means the risk of having to carry him if he doesn’t pan out – or takes too long to pan out – is nullified. It should also mean that they have 20+ million in the budget to spend during the next International FA period, the Draft, or on other big name players in 2010/2011, which bodes well for the aggressive Alex “the Great” Anthopolous. We’ll see if the Jays can find enough value in either markets to warrant spending that much money, and with the increase in scouting web at their disposal, chances are the Jays will have no problem finding the right investment – and chances are also great that the investment will cost a small fraction of what Aroldis Chapman cost the Reds. That lessens the overall risk of the transaction and allows for money to be dispersed more effectively. So even though we “lost” the Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes, I believe Jays fans won by knowing the Jays will be aggressive in all markets for the first time……ever!