Jays Make Pitch for Cuban, But No Cigar
Cuban southpaw Aroldis Chapman has reportedly signed with the Cincinnati Reds.
Cincinnati Reds for five years and $30 million. That price is twice what Steven Strasburg, 21, was signed for by the Nationals. Of course, Chapman had the advantage of not being an American and not having to go into the major league draft.
The Reds were one of many teams to see Chapman throw on December 15 when Chapman threw for numerous major league scouts in Florida. The 22-year-old was clocked at over 100 MPH while pitching for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic.
In our last report on Chapman, we identified the Blue Jays as the favorites to land the Cuban defector and we believed he would sign on New Year’s Eve. That did not happen and reportedly several big market teams like the Red Sox and Yankees ultimately passed on Chapman.
Putting his Best Foot Forward
Chapman definitely has some mechanical problems that the Reds will need to fix. One, he falls off the mound to the third base side when throwing which puts him out of position to become an infielder. Two, his arm often lags behind his front foot. Meaning, proper pitching mechanics have the arm at 90 degrees and beginning the forward throwing motion when the front foot hits the mound and Chapman visibly still has his arm in the outstretched position behind his body at this moment. This causes the Cuban to leave many balls high.
The biggest concern over Chapman has been his control. He walked nearly six batters per 9 innings in the Cuban league. That makes for an uncomfortable WHIP for fantasy baseball managers.
Also, there are some in MLB that question Chapman’s maturity and decision making given his firing of his original agent and some decisions that he has made over the period since he walked out on the Cuban national team while playing in a tournament in Holland. Still others questioned his mental toughness.
The Defector’s Detractors
That’s a bunch of Communist propaganda in my opinion. A young man who leaves his parents, a girlfriend, and a baby behind in Cuba to ultimately make a better life for them has more mental toughness than most major leaguers will ever dream of having.
As for the pass that the big market teams have made on Chapman, that is more a consideration of investing in talent that can pay off immediately rather than being patient with Chapman’s development. He is not major league ready right now. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox would rather have him prove himself for the next five (or less) years, then pick him up from the small market Reds.
Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Chapman vs. Strasburg
In our opinion, the fantasy baseball outlook for Chapman has just increased. Chapman will be able to move into the Reds depth chart sooner than he would have with Boston or New York any way.
But, if you have your choice, Strasburg is still the better pick for the 2010 fantasy baseball draft. Consider Strasburg to be one year closer to the Show than Chapman is. And, there’s still some consideration of whether Chapman is better suited as a closer.
Watch the ABC News story about Aroldis Chapman from six months ago.