Dodgers in ‘Strong Pursuit’ of Aroldis Chapman, Hisashi Iwakuma
As Expected, the Dodgers Arrive at Winter Meetings with a Bang
Update: The Dodgers are in agreement with free agent right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, per Jim Bowden. Details to come.
While many execs are still rolling into Nashville for the annual Winter Meetings, Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi have gotten off to a flying start as Ken Rosenthal reported earlier that the Dodgers were in talks with the Reds about All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman. Rosenthal later reported that the Dodgers and Reds were progressing in talks with the Dodgers execs growing confident that a deal would be completed. The Reds decision makers have made it clear that they fully intend to move Chapman at these meetings.
It is unclear at this stage exactly what a deal for Chapman would look like. Whilst the price will likely be high, the Dodgers were unwilling to part with top prospects for starters David Price or Cole Hamels last year so it would appear unlikely that the Dodgers would include names like Julio Urias or Jose De Leon in a deal for Chapman. If we work on the assumption that those two players are still out of the question then the fact that talks are still progressing is likely good new for the Dodgers and their fans. It has been speculated that the Dodgers could take on the contract of Brandon Phillps (2 yrs/$26M) to help lower the prospect cost for Chapman.
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Adding Chapman to the bullpen would no doubt be a game changer for the Dodgers but it would not come without its complications. The Dodgers already have a star closer in Kenley Jansen which could possibly cause some friction in regards to who takes on what role. Further complicating the issue is that both players are in their contract years, so they both could be understandably resistant to a move to the 8th inning, certainly an interesting challenge for new manager, Dave Roberts. Some have suggested that one of the two closer could be flipped to fill another hole, however this would seem to be counterproductive for a team that has a definite need in the bullpen. Both players would be eligible for a Qualifying Offer at seasons end.
In regards to the search for starting pitching, the Dodgers are believed to be working hard on free agent right hander, Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma, 34, has spent his entire Major League career with Seattle as the no.2 starter for ace Felix Hernandez. Iwakuma went 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 2015. Iwakuma finished 3rd in Cy Young voting in 2013 and has been a solid contributor since. In 4 seasons with the Mariners, Iwakuma has been worth a total of 13.9 WAR. Iwakuma was given a qualifying offer and would therefore cost the Dodgers a draft pick. San Francisco and Seattle are also believed to be in pursuit of Iwakuma.