David Lesky at Inside the Crown reacts to the Aroldis Chapman signing.
From a baseball perspective, I actually do sort of get it. Chapman is one year removed from a solid enough season, albeit with too many walks. Even last year, he didn’t give up his first run until May 11. Things got awfully rough from that point forward, but the Royals signing him to a $3.75 million deal is probably the right amount for a once-elite reliever who you’re hoping to get a few good months out of before you trade him to a contender for a prospect we’ll likely never hear of again. The guy still throws upper-90s and gets whiffs on 36 percent of his sliders and his splitter still holds opponents to a sub-.120 batting average.
I did talk to someone who I trust who has very good intel into what the organization is doing. He says there is a fixable mechanical issue that they have found and believe they can fix. I think it’s very easy to scoff at them fixing someone’s mechanics, but remember, this is a new big league team of pitching instructors. Nobody knows if they’re capable of something like that, though it sort of sounds like they’ve got the right mix from what you hear around the game.
Craig Brown at Into the Fountains is skeptical.
He still brings the heat, relative to the rest of the league. Statcast had Chapman’s fastball in the 96th percentile for velocity. My theory is that doesn’t matter much. Yeah, it’s impressive that he’s still out in front of most of his peers when it comes to velocity, but can Chapman cope with what has been a steady decline in that department? He’s lost almost 4 MPH off his fastball since 2016, an average decline of about half a tick a year. That’s a lot. Older pitchers—we saw this with the return of Zack Greinke last summer—need to evolve and adapt. They simply can’t keep slinging the same stuff at 35 that they did at 23 and expect the same results. I’m questioning whether Chapman will evolve as he ages. From last year’s results, it wouldn’t seem like it.
Vahe Gregorian gets to know manager Matt Quatraro.
Don’t mistake any of this for passivity by Quatraro, though he certainly figures to be less intense than predecessor Mike Matheny.
It’s just that Quatraro knows there are some pillars in place — and time enough for him to become more directly involved as all get to know each other better and trust is earned.
“You don’t force it, is my opinion,” he said. “You are who you are.” In his case, that means what he calls not putting on airs or “faking that stuff,” but rather listening and learning as he assesses what imprint he might put on the culture.
“Who am I to come in and say, ‘Change that. I want this done a different way,’” he said. “Now, once we get going and we have conversations and we know each other and trust each other, … (I might say), ‘Hey, you ever thought about this?’ And they can tell me the same thing. And we make adjustments to improve.”
“We’re proud of this group and excited to get them all in our system and help them achieve their dreams,” Royals senior vice president and assistant general manager of major league and international operations Rene Francisco said in a release from the club. “We believe we have a strong mix of high-end pitching talent, athleticism that can play all over the field and power. I know our great fans will enjoy following their progress.”
Jon Heyman writes the Royals are “still in touch” with Zack Greinke.
Kevin O’Brien has three questions regarding the Chapman signing.
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