On Friday, the Royals officially announced what had been reported earlier this week, that they had signed reliever Aroldis Chapman to a one-year deal. MLB.com reporter Mark Feinsand had previously reported the deal was for $3.5 million with performance bonuses.
Chapman is a seven-time All-Star reliever who at his prime was one of the most dominating closers in baseball with a fastball in the triple digits. In 13 seasons with the Reds, Cubs, and Yankees, the Cuban-born lefty has 315 career saves, a 2.48 ERA and 14.7 strikeouts-per-nine-innings.
Aroldis was an All-Star as recently as 2021, but struggled last year with an ERA of 4.46 and the highest walk rate by any pitcher with at least 30 innings. He missed time in August due to an infection he received after getting a tattoo and was limited to just 36 1⁄3 innings. He was also dismissed from the Yankees and left off the post-season roster last season after he skipped a team workout where he was asked to throw batting practice.
In 2015, Chapman was also alleged to have pushed his girlfriend and put his hands around her neck, choking her, then firing eight gunshots into a wall. No charges were ever filed, but MLB did suspend him for 30 games.
His fastball is down a few ticks to 97 mph and his whiff rate fell last season, but he is still one of the harder-throwing pitchers in baseball, and the Royals feel they can correct his mechanics to improve upon his 2022 season. There were reports that Chapman turned down offers from contenders for an opportunity to close games in Kansas City, but Royals General Manager J.J. Picollo earlier this week would not commit on whether Chapman would take over closer duties from Scott Barlow.
The Royals already had an open roster spot on the 40-man roster after trading Adalberto Mondesi to Boston and Michael A. Taylor to Minnesota, so no corresponding move is required. Chapman’s signing brings the projected Opening Day payroll to just over $78 million. Picollo told reporters this week he expected a payroll in the range of $85-90 million. The Royals are reportedly still in talks with pitcher Zack Greinke on a return, but are negotiating over how much guaranteed base salary the 39-year-old pitcher will receive.
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