Posted by: Peter Houston | January 1, 2010

Jays pursuing Aroldis Chapman

According to an ESPN report, the Blue Jays held a private workout for Aroldis Chapman and met with his representatives. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Chapman, he’s a 21-year-old left handed pitcher from Cuba, who has been clocked at 102 MPH. Check this out for a great background story.

The Jays are far from the only team interested in Chapman. About 15 teams watched him workout on December 15th (it was said his fastball maxed out at 97 MPH). The Red Sox offered him a $15.5 M deal in November (no word on the number of years). The Marlins offered him a five year deal in the $13 million range. Rumours have it the Angels will make an offer and the A’s and Yankees are interested as well. ESPN speculated that the fact Chapman’s agents are in Florida may mean he is close to signing, though not necessarily with Toronto.

Chapman is definitely an intriguing prospect. Some people seem to think he is going to be the next great pitcher in the MLB, but his stats might disagree. In his four years pitching in Cuba, where Chapman admitted the competition far from major league quality, he compiled a 24-21 record, with a 3.72 ERA. The most alarming stat may be his BB/9, which was 5.37. Clay Davenport of Baseball Prospectus tried to translate those stats to project how Chapman would fare in the majors. He estimated Chapman would go 10-23, with a 6.66 ERA.

Keep in mind Chapman is still only 21. He still has a lot of time to develop. At his December workout, many scouts were impressed with his pitches and conditioning. After shooting down any Chapman rumours before the World Series (“We don’t have enough background and scouting looks to make a proper offer.”), AA sent two scouts to the workout. Now, they’ve held a private workout and met with his representatives. Is an offer in the works?

But how does this fit in with AA’s plans for building? Yes, Chapman is young, but it sounds like he will be commanding a big contract (some people think he wants a Jose Contreras, $32 M over four years type of deal), which is something AA definitely isn’t trying to get himself into. What intrigues me is the supposed interest of small market teams like the A’s and Marlins. These teams, especially the A’s, only get involved with free agents when they think they can get a bargain. Even with the relateively large contract Chapman will surely get, will he be so good the deal looks like a bargain? I certainly wouldn’t want to see AA throw Contreras money at Chapman, but I’ve certainly has my eye on him since he defected from Cuba (successfully).

What do you, the loyal Jays fans think? Is Chapman worth the risk? If the Jays signed him, would he live up to the hype and become a perennial Cy Young candidate as he blasts fastballs by A-Rod and Teixeira? Or would he never be able to harness his heat, making him ineffective and another untrabeable Wells-esque contract? What will AA do? Isn’t he on his honeymoon or something?

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