There can be no reconstruction without deconstruction, even in the baseball world.
The Cincinnati Reds began major deconstruction Monday at the winter baseball meetings in Nashville by yanking out a major pillar.
They reportedly agreed to trade closer Aroldis Chapman to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two prospects.
However, the report surfaced early Monday morning and hadn’t been confirmed by late afternoon. Reportedly, there could be other teams involved in the deal and the two prospects have not been named.
With all the recent trades of Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and now Chapman, they should change their name to the Cincinnati Prospects.
BY TRADING CHAPMAN, the Reds are telling their fans that prosperity is far down the road — after deconstruction is completed and reconstruction begins to pay off. If it does.
Not all these prospects will pay off. All prospect acquisitions don’t make it. That’s why the deconstruction is not over.
Before the winter meetings are over, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier and Brandon Phillips could be gone, traded for prospects.
WHAT THE REDS ARE doing is all about the money, reducing payroll. That’s why Chapman is gone. He becomes a free agent after the 2016 season and there is no way the Reds can compete for him on the free agent shelves.
With Chapman gone, the Reds gave away their No. 1 drawing card, the one player fans wanted to see, ‘The Entertainer’ of the Reds.
But it is also clear that for the next few years Chapman would be a mere trinket, an expensive trinket, a novelty, a player occupying a position the Reds don’t need.
WHEN YOU LOSE 98 games, as the Reds did last year, and finish last, as the Reds did last year, who needs an $8 million closer.
Adding to the perplexity was the fact the Reds didn’t use Chapman the way he should have been used. They locked him into the traditional closer role — only use him in the ninth inning when the team is a run or two or three ahead.
They didn’t use him in the eighth inning when they had a one or two run lead or when the opposition trailed by a run and had a couple of runners on base.
Games were on the line then, too, but they waited until the ninth and many times the opposition scored two or three runs in the eighth and the save situation was gone. And then Chapman sat in the bullpen for the ninth.
THERE IS NO QUESTION that Chapman is one of the best, if not the best, closer in the game. The 28-year-old left hander had 146 saves in 164 chances during his six seasons in Cincinnati with an incredible 546 strikeouts in 319 innings.
Fastballs in the 101 to 103 miles per hour range were the norm for The Cuban Missile and his career earned run average is 2.17.
Was all that worth $8.05 million to the Reds in 2015? Not to lose 98 games. Not to finish last. And he’ll make much more than that for 2016 because he is eligible for salary arbitration before the season.
CERTAINLY REDS FANS will miss the dramatics, miss the opening of the bullpen door in the ninth and the long-legged Chapman lumbering toward the mound as lights from camera and cell phones flash. And they’ll miss seeing the ‘101’ and ‘102’ blink on the scoreboard after pitches.
And they’ll miss the free pizza Chapman helped provide by striking out two or three hitters in one inning to bring the team’s game total to 11, which meant free pizza to ticket holders.
But in the end, on a team deconstructing, free pizza was about all the fans were going to get from seeing Chapman on the rare days when a save is on the line.
So who becomes the Reds’ closer? Probably J.J. Hoover, who bounced back last year to have a good season after an awful 2014. Or perhaps they’ll groom former starter Michael Lorenzen, who was an outfielder/closer in college at Cal State-Fullerton.
Or maybe it will be a prospect.
IT ALSO WAS disappointing to Reds fans that catcher Brayan Pena was permitted to go to division rival St. Louis via free agency, especially when it isn’t known for sure that that catcher Devin Mesoraco’s surgically repaired hip will permit him to catch.
Pena, who can also play first base, was a usable switch-hitting pinch-hitter. Most of all, though, they’ll miss his personality and positive attitude in the clubhouse. He was the clubhouse leader for the Latinos, of which the Reds have many.
He will be hard to replace. Prospects can’t be leaders.