CINCINNATI -- Now that Aroldis Chapman was traded to the Yankees for four Minor Leaguers on Monday, obviously the Reds will need to have a new closer for 2016. There is little chance that Chapman's replacement will provide Cincinnati with the same cache or electricity that the flame-throwing left-hander brought to the end of games, but there are numerous potential candidates in house.
The first name that should get a look is J.J. Hoover, who succeeded last season as Chapman's eighth-inning right-handed setup man.
Following a rough 2014 season, Hoover rebounded nicely in '15 while posting a 2.94 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 64 1/3 innings in 67 appearances. He stranded nine of 12 inherited runners. Over his career since '12, Hoover has only five saves -- including one last season.
• Jumbo Diaz spent 13 years in the Minors before his first big league callup in 2014, and he spent several of those years closing games and amassing 113 saves. Diaz was on the Reds' Opening Day roster last season, but he struggled with a 6.65 ERA over his first 25 appearances. He returned from a demotion to Triple-A Louisville and pitched better to finish with a 4.18 ERA overall and 12 of his 16 inherited runners retired. Diaz can also bring the heat and frequently reaches 97-99 mph with his fastball.
• Tony Cingrani, who was a closer in college a few years ago, has already been told he would be competing for a bullpen spot after not succeeding in his chances for the rotation. However, he has been plagued by shoulder injuries and durability issues. Last season, Cingrani posted a 5.67 ERA in 35 games and spent most of the second half in Triple-A.
• Brandon Finnegan was one of the lefty prospects acquired from the Royals in the Johnny Cueto trade, and he already has big-moment experience with Kansas City out of the bullpen in the 2014 postseason, the same year he was drafted out of college. The Reds had planned to develop Finnegan as a starter, but he certainly has the stuff to close.
• Also a former college closer, right-hander Michael Lorenzen is already a projected starter, but that could change if he does not make the rotation. Lorenzen is capable of throwing 98 mph, and he showed improved secondary pitches in September when he returned from being sent down to Louisville. In 27 games, including 21 starts as a Reds rookie, Lorenzen was 4-9 with a 5.40 ERA, 57 walks and 83 strikeouts over 113 1/3 innings.
The Reds have not identified a specific replacement. President of baseball operations Walt Jocketty said the closer situation would be determined during Spring Training.
During his six years with the Reds, Chapman racked up 146 saves in 164 chances. One of the game's most prolific strikeout pitchers, he totaled 546 strikeouts in 319 career innings, a 15.4 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio, and was an All-Star in each of the past four seasons.
Even with the Reds not in position to contend for the postseason in 2016, whoever gets the closer's job will have a tough act to follow after Chapman.