Cincinnati Reds’ manager Dusty Baker still doesn’t know what Aroldis Chapman’s role will be this year. He does know he wants answers this week whether Chapman will be the closer or move into the starting rotation.
Last year, Aroldis Chapman’s role was as the Reds’ closer. He saved 38 games over 71 innings with a ridiculously low 1.51 era. Dusty Baker wants Chapman to stay as the team’s closer. Reds’ general manager Walt Jocketty wants to move Chapman into the rotation.
Jocketty signed Jonathan Broxton to a three year, $21 million deal over the winter so Chapman could become a starting pitcher. Reports out of Reds’ camp claim both Dusty Baker and the players want Chapman to continue as the team’s closer though.
Dusty Baker is tired of the drama surrounding his star pitcher and wants an answer this week about what Aroldis Chapman’s role will be. Baker doesn’t like putting Chapman, or his team, in “unknown situations.”
He’s candid when telling reporters, “I don’t like having guys in the middle, because that’s a bad situation when you’re in the middle of anything, an unknown. Then everyone else is in an unknown situation. I don’t think that’s fair to him or us.”
The reason the decision is taking so long is because it’s not Baker’s decision to make. Managers and general managers both have a say in who plays what role on teams even though the manager makes the in-game decisions.
In the case of Aroldis Chapman’s role, Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty simply see it differently. By the time the season starts, they will have to be on the same page. It’s hard not to understand Baker’s frustration at the situation: He’d rather have the answer now and play the rest of spring training knowing each player’s role.
Whether he is the closer or a starter, Aroldis Chapman’s role in Cincinnati will be integral to the success they have. Last year the Reds finished with 97 wins, second most in the majors. As a starter, Chapman will pitch in about 34 games. As the closer, last season he saved 38. The reds will have to decide what role Chapman will have the biggest impact in, and put him there.
What do you think? Should Aroldis Chapman be a starter or closer for Cincinnati this year?