Aroldis Chapman is going to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are not the Houston Astros. The Astros still need some bullpen help but the prized arm on the market is gone. What ever can the Astros do in a world without Chapman available?
Perhaps, the first thing to do is quite simply not to worry. I was never on the trade for Chapman bandwagon. His value is clear. I mean, he's probably the best reliever in the game. In addition, the Astros have long been striving for some high velocity hurlers in the bullpen. Nobody in the game throws harder than Chapman. But would he really be worth it?
With only one year of team control left before he hits free-agency, trading away some of our top prospects to acquire him would hurt big time. To explore the idea further, I have a hypothetical: the Astros trade away Michael Feliz and Francis Martes for Aroldis Chapman. Or, in a different light, the Astros trade away 12 years of major league control for, say, 60 innings.
Albeit, they would be 60 glorious innings, filled with ridiculous fastballs, lots of strikeouts, and most importantly lots of dominant ninth innings. Prospects are interesting. Nobody really knows what they'll end up like. But, it's still just 60 innings. Trading away 12 years of major league control in two intriguing prospects, in the given hypothetical, for someone who would be very valuable for a mere 60 innings. It just doesn't appeal to me.
A few years down the line when the Dodgers are reminiscing about Chapman's 60 innings (all while he is playing somewhere else) and their prospects are tearing up with the Cincinnati Reds on a tiny contract with lots of control, it would hurt. It will hurt, hopefully, for the sake of the Astros. Good job that isn't us. We will all look back and think we really dodged a bullet. Hopefully, anyway, for the sake of the Astros.
There is solace in another avenue, too: there are other relievers out there who, granted, aren't quite as good as Chapman, but are very good indeed. Tony Sipp only wants Boone Logan money; something in the region of three-years, $6 million per year. And Ken Giles is still available. One of the best relievers in the game with plenty of contractual control.
Giles is under team control through 2020, giving the Astros four years more control than Chapman. Which works out at around 240 innings more than Chapman, for the record. Giles, in his first two years in the big leagues, has some amazing numbers: 12.62 and 11.19 K/9, a 1.18 and a 1.80 ERA, a 1.34 and a 2.13 FIP, and a 1.7 and a 2.0 WAR. Not quite Chapman. Not too far off.
In the grand scheme of it all, the two probably cost something similar. Chapman is better, Giles has more contractual control. Presuming the Philadelphia Phillies would pull the trigger on a deal consisting of Giles for Feliz and Martes, or something similar, the Astros could have their alternative to Chapman.
There are, of course, plenty of other options available, too. The Washington Nationals' Storen is another name that is being linked to the Astros. The Tampa Bay Rays are always open to wheeling and dealing and they have two relievers who I'd imagine would pique the Astros' interest in Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger. Relievers are fungible old things, anyway, and so the Astros will be okay.
In a world without Chapman the Astros are fine: what are you all worried about?