Reports surfaced late yesterday that the proposed trade between the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers to bring All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman to LA may be off as the pitcher deals with domestic abuse allegations. The Dodgers had planned to team Chapman up with another star closer, Kenley Jansen, to form a great one-two punch in the eighth and ninth innings. This was the same approach the Washington Nationals tried with Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon.
The results of that experiment were far from overwhelmingly positive.
It is very hard for two elite closers to coexist in one bullpen, especially when both have big personalities. Chapman obviously has one, and Jansen has relished in closing the past four years. Neither will want to hand off the ninth inning duties.
With the trade with the Reds likely scuttled for the time being, the Dodgers should take the time to consider another elite closer who is also on the block — Andrew Miller. The tall left-hander just wrapped up his first season with the New York Yankees, and was a smashing success in his first year as the ninth-inning man. The 6’7″ left-hander saved 36 games and struck out 14.6 per nine. Miller is under contract for three more seasons at $9 million per year.
That Miller is on the block is somewhat surprising, and there is not yet a clear indication as to how aggressively the Yankees are shopping him. The prospects and pieces going back to the Reds in the proposed Chapman deal were also unknown. Regardless, the Dodgers were likely ready to surrender a substantial package to get Chapman.
Miller may actually be more attractive to the Dodgers. His contract is relatively cheap for an elite closer, and sliding back into a setup role may suit Miller. The Dodgers can avoid the headaches that may come with Chapman. Miller is a failed starter, and the 30-year-old from Florida is quiet and not prone to posturing, smoking cigars poolside, or driving foreign cars at high speeds on the freeway.
With one trade falling apart, it is time for the Dodgers to begin exploring other options. Miller may command a higher return in prospects than Chapman, and the Yankees may not even be interested in talking unless an MLB-ready starter comes in the deal. There is no reason right now for New York to rush a trade of Miller.
For the Dodgers, however, it may be time to get serious about another option. Despite blowing through money the past few years, Los Angeles has never built a reliable bullpen. Miller is a great fallback option for a club already loaded with “personalities.” Without Chapman (and all the headaches that he may bring to LA), the Dodgers need to add a bullpen arm, and Miller is one of the best.