Wow:

Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman agreed to a five-year, $30 million deal with a National League team believed to be the Reds, Yahoo Sports reported on Sunday morning.

MLB.com has confirmed from a National League source that the team involved is believed to be the Reds.

The Reds’ interest in the 22-year-old with a fastball clocked as high as 100 mph was originally reported by FoxSports.com on Friday. The club was one of many to see Chapman work out on Dec. 15 in Houston.

But it still comes as a surprise if it’s the Reds who signed Chapman, as the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees and Angels were believed to be the front-runners for Chapman’s services, according to recent reports.

“Surprise” is an understatement. If this turns out to be true, I will be a very happy Reds fan.

UPDATE: Chapman to Cincinnati appears to be confirmed. Five years, $30 million.

UPDATE 2:

UPDATE 3: John Fay has some contract information:

The deal with left-hander Aroldis Chapman is for $25 million over five years with a player option for a sixth. His salary for 2010 will be in $1 million range.

It’s a major league deal and it’s spread out over 10 years. The first year it will be a major burden on the big league budget is 2014.

If all that is true, my friends, this is a simply fantastic signing.

74 Responses

  1. Aroldis Chapman

    Yes, I have signed with the Reds!!

  2. Matt B.

    The one thing that concerns me, as I looked over some scouting reports: “Freeze frame him and it looks like his elbow will snap off.”

    Yikes.

    It’s still huge for this organization, though.

    • CarolinaReds

      Matt B.: The one thing that concerns me, as I looked over some scouting reports: “Freeze frame him and it looks like his elbow will snap off.”Yikes.It’s still huge for this organization, though.

      Make sure Dusty knows that…

  3. Sean

    Most random signing ever….I guess they want us to buy tickets after all…

  4. Redsrock

    Awesome! A boring off season has come to an end. 🙂

  5. Y-City Jim

    Wonder what the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees and Angels are all saying? The Reds???

    • JS

      Y-City Jim: Wonder what the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees and Angels are all saying? The Reds???

      To paraphrase Major Leagues:

      “I play for the Reds.” – Aroldis Chapman
      “In Cincinnati? I didn’t know they still had a team.” – The American League (except Cleveland…cause…you know…we play them a half-dozen times)
      “Yup, we’ve got uniforms and everything, it’s really great!” – Aroldis Chapman

  6. Kyle

    Multiple sources confirming it, but John Fay just reported deal isn’t signed yet and could be up to 10 years.

    • pinson343

      Kyle: Multiple sources confirming it, but John Fay just reported deal isn’t signed yet and could be up to 10 years.

      Right. I’m going to wait for the official word, but I am excited.

  7. JustTheFacts

    I’m not a pitching expert, but his motion seems pretty smooth and fluid. There doesn’t seem to be anything in his motion that is glaringly dangerous.

    Volquez is the only other pitcher I’ve seen hit 100 on the radar gun in 10 years, though he doesn’t do it very often. If he has Volquez’s or Cueto’s control, then oh baby.

    One little concern, it seems like the ownership really stretched on this one, so there most be either a salary dump in the near future, or we’ve seen the last of the Red’s Hot stove for the year.

  8. Matt B.

    Fay’s saying that the deal isn’t finalized and that it could be as long as ten years.

  9. Mark in CC

    His arm lags a little which means he will be up in the zone. But, Randy Johnson was the same way and they got him straightened out. I ma sure so will the new “Senior Smoke”.

    I ma excited by this.

  10. Dick Bronson

    Stunned, I woulda bet the house that this was going absolutely nowhere. Happily stunned, I should add….

  11. earl

    That’s a whole lot of money for someone who hasn’t proven anything against MLB players.

  12. JustTheFacts

    @earl: I’ll need to check, but he likely did pitch against major league players in the WBC.

    I’m holding my enthusiasm until the official announcement and the disclosure of the details, but if it is a graduated contract, say 1 to 2 million this year with increases every year, then the Reds may have more things to do after all this winter afterall. Hopefully, he’ll earn a spot in at least Louisville with our buddy Matt Klinker. Let Rick fix the arm lag, but with this type of investment, you need to get him with Soto ASAP.

  13. pinson343

    This is a bold and of course a risky move. A risk worth taking. The main criticism of WJ on the blog has been that he doesn’t take action, especially bold and creative moves. Now we’ll have to find a new criticism.

    I’m excited. Yes we have other needs but bringing in a pitcher with this upside, WOW !

  14. Travis G.

    Unbelievable.

    It’s a risk to pay out this sort of money to any pitcher, but he seems like a potential stud. Just think about what sort of rotation we’ll have in 2011 if he’s as good as advertised, Voltron comes back and Homer and Cueto continue progressing. And that’s not even counting Harang or Arroyo, who both have options for that season!

  15. David T.

    There was an article about this kid in ESPN the Mag a couple of months back. When reading that article there was no way I thought the Reds would get him. Can’t believe it.

  16. Tom Diesman

    The following is a snippet on Chapman from a BBA Top 10 Prospects in the WBC (Subscription Only) from last April. He was the number 2 prospect behind Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish.

    2. Aroldis Chapman, lhp, Cuba

    Cuba doesn’t throw power arm after power arm at teams like they did in the past—only four of the 10 pitchers who threw in the second round of the World Baseball Classic sat above 90 mph with their fastball, but while that is true, they do boast maybe the best arm in the game.

    Listed at only 21, Chapman has the perfect pitcher’s body with long arms, a lanky frame and a high release point. Very few lefhanders can sit at 93-94 mph like Chapman can, even fewer can touch 100 mph, as he showed again at the World Baseball Classic. In the past, Chapman has hit 102 mph during a Serie Nacional game.

    Chapman also throws a changeup, slider and curveball, but it’s the fastball that has scouts drooling.

    “If you are looking for more than that in a pitcher, you’ll be searching your whole life,” an AL scout said. “He was so much fun to watch. If he’s 21 like he’s listed, the sky’s the limit. You’ve got honestly just one or two tweaks that could be made but he could go straight to the top of a big league rotation.”

    Chapman isn’t a finished product, as he showed in a poor start against Japan. Chapman struggled to locate his fastball, and since he kept falling behind in counts, he was never able to set up hitters to use the rest of his assortment of pitches. He also needs to improve his tempo, which often slowed to a Steve Trachsel pace.

    But those are only minor quibbles. If he ever did defect, or if the current U.S.-Cuba embargo rules are ever loosened, Chapman would immediately become one of the most coveted free agents on the planet.

  17. The Natural

    “Fay adds another tweet, stating that Chapman’s deal is spread out over “many” years, and that he won’t cost Cincinnati much until the 2014 season.”

  18. Glenn

    Stunned! Absolutely stunned! But in a good way.

    • RedinFla

      Glenn: Stunned! Absolutely stunned! But in a good way.

      Si! Yo tambien!

  19. Jeff

    Wow,
    I first saw the article on ESPN and read it the towards the end I thought it was a misprint and that they were talking about the red sox. Then I checked a couple other sources, its incredible!

    Imagine 2010 rotation of Volquez, Cueto, Chapman, Bailey, and Leake sounds pretty promsing.

  20. Chris Garber

    I have no idea what to say. Crazy. Hope he’s good, and up here soon.

    I plan to refer to him as the “Cuban Flamethrower” incessantly.

  21. Tomster

    @Aroldis Chapman:

    welcome Ardolis, May you have good health and great Success during your time in Cincinnati. welcome 🙂

  22. BJ Ruble

    I am shocked and so very excited! This could be HUGE. Let’s all hope Mario Soto can do some wonders and get his control down and we very well may have the next Randy Johnson.

    Come on Mario, teach him that change-up!

    This is a great day! 😛

  23. Drew Nelson

    1. Okay where did the money come to afford this kid?

    2. Anyone want to lay odds on whom the opending day Reds pitcher is now?

    3. Are we all happy now?

    • pinson343

      Drew Nelson: 1.Okay where did the money come to afford this kid?2.Anyone want to lay odds on whom the opending day Reds pitcher is now?3. Are we all happy now?

      1. Fruits and vegetables.
      2. No.
      3. We seem to be, I sure am. There will be no complaints from me for at least 3 days, unless something really bad happens.

  24. Tom Diesman

    Here is some more info from a BBA chat I found from late Sept., http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/ask-ba/2009/268922.html, trying to figure out where Chapman will rank as a prospect and at what level he might start the season.

    But here’s the kicker: Chapman never has dominated Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He’s much more of a thrower than a pitcher. Most of Cuban defectors haven’t lived up to their hype, and the last Cuban pitcher to attract this kind of fanfare was Jose Contreras. Contreras has three good seasons and a solid 71-63, 4.63 career, but expectations were that he’d deliver a lot more after signing a $32 million contract with the Yankees.

    For me, Chapman would rank in the upper quarter of our 2010 Top 100 Prospects list, but I wouldn’t put him ahead of Montero and he wouldn’t be the No. 1 prospect for several other clubs. I’d take Jason Heyward (Braves), Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner (Giants), Dustin Ackley (Mariners), Mike Stanton (Marlins), Strasburg (Nationals), Brian Matusz (Orioles), Pedro Alvarez (Pirates) and Neftali Feliz, Justin Smoak or Martin Perez (Rangers) ahead of Chapman without a moment’s hesitation. A case also could be made that Chapman shouldn’t be No. 1 over a healthy Jarrod Parker (Diamondbacks), Domonic Brown (Phillies), Desmond Jennings (Rays), Christian Friedrich or Tyler Matzek (Rockies) and Jacob Turner (Tigers).

  25. Steve

    Astonished.

    Can’t wait to see him in Goodyear in two months.

  26. BJ Ruble

    They must be pretty certain that they will be able get get his control down. He just has a ton of upside that is hard to overlook.

  27. Steve

    A few more thoughts, as the shock wears off.

    (1) WJ is one of the most secretive GM’s I’ve ever followed. I know there had been smatterings of rumors on this prior to today, but you had to look pretty hard for them.

    (2) I wonder how our other young players – Bruce, Votto – will respond to the long-term contract. Will they seek pre-arbitration contracts like Longoria’s and Champman’s?

    (3) The Reds deserve some credit for the creative nature of the contract, if accounts are accurate. Taking only a $1m hit this year, and no real impact until 2014 is outside the box.

    (4) Bailey, Cueto, Volquez, Chapman, Leake – can’t wait for 2011. With plenty of cash for other positions…

  28. justcorbly

    Woo-hoo!

    Every signing is a risk, but spending money on potentially great pitchers is a quicker path to success than anything else.

  29. Zblakey

    What roster move will be made to make room for Chapman?

    • Tom Diesman

      Zblakey: What roster move will be made to make room for Chapman?

      Shouldn’t be a corresponding move. Chapman signed a major league deal and the 40 man roster has been at 39 since they non-tendered Gomes.

  30. Kevin Mitchell is Batman

    Anyone else think this is also a precursor to another move? I keep seeing “projected 2011 rotation” posts pop up here and elsewhere, but in none of them do I see “Travis Wood” or any veteran starter, either current or non-Red. Given our lack of a SS/LF, can we now afford to package a pitcher and a prospect to fill our gaps? Either that or this signing helps replace the spot in the organization that Zach Stewart had previously filled.

    I just think this is the first of several moves that will begin to help define the direction of this organization. It certainly seems like this was the once piece we had to get to enable us to pull the trigger on other moves. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Alonso shopped soon for a position of need.

    • Steve

      Yep and yep.

      Kevin Mitchell is Batman: I just think this is the first of several moves that will begin to help define the direction of this organization. It certainly seems like this was the once piece we had to get to enable us to pull the trigger on other moves. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Alonso shopped soon for a position of need.

    • Greg Dafler

      Kevin Mitchell is Batman: Anyone else think this is also a precursor to another move?

      Yes, but not necessarily in the next month. I’d expect this is precursor to movement that we’ll see over the next 12-18 months.

  31. Tom Diesman

    Thought I’d share another snippet I found on si.mobile, http://vzw.si.mlogic.mobi/news/sp/to_mlb_sports/detail/2076435/full;jsessionid=96D5DBF07E4001335477E7F644250C3D.cnnsi1. From what I’m reading about Chapman, he needs a little work in the minors, I’d imagine he’d start the season at the highest in AA Carolina, maybe A+ Lynchburg. He probably wouldn’t be a factor for the major league club until the 2012 season.

    In his four years in the National Series, he had a 24-21 record with a 3.72 ERA. Almost as notable as his 379 strikeouts in 341 2/3 innings are his 210 walks. His career bases on balls per nine innings is 5.37, a stat that would rank him last — below Arizona’s Daniel Cabrera (5.24) and Milwaukee’s Seth McClung (5.31) — among the 245 major league pitchers who have thrown at least 341 career innings. And that’s calculated without adjusting for a softer strike zone and freer swingers in the Cuban league. “In Cuba you knew you could throw a bad pitch and a batter would swing at it,” Chapman admits. “In the big leagues, that doesn’t happen very often.”

    Over the summer, Clay Davenport of the baseball think tank Baseball Prospectus employed mathematical formulas to try to translate Chapman’s statistics into numbers that might indicate how he’d do in the majors. Davenport’s results projected that Chapman’s would compile a 10-23 record with 303 strikeouts in 292 2/3 innings and an ERA of 6.66. Davenport’s analysis concluded that the left-hander’s translated stats correlated most closely at the same age with those of prospects Adam Bostick (currently in the New York Mets’ system), Ted Langdon (formerly in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization) and Joe Young (formerly in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system), none of whom advanced beyond Triple-A. Bostick and Langdon converted to relief while Young remained a starter. Fourth on that list of comparable pitchers was Los Angeles Angels closer Brian Fuentes.

    These statistics reinforced a concern of several executives who spoke to SI.com. “His secondary pitches are just not that good,” says one high-ranking NL team official. Chapman, however, feels that he has command of his complementary pitches, which include a sinking fastball, curveball, slider, changeup and forkball. “My [secondary] pitches, I don’t think I have a problem,” he says. “The fastball is the one I have a harder time controlling because it moves on me a lot. With my other pitches, it’s not a problem.”

    Chapman expresses reluctance to move to the bullpen, though he worked as a closer for part of the 2006-07 National Series season. “It went OK, but I like being a starter better,” he says. “The difference in starting the game is that you can impact the game greatly. You can pitch a lot of innings. As a closer, you only get one or two innings. You pitch more frequently, but I don’t have a lot of interest in being a closer.”

    Another area of concern, which no analyst’s formulas can predict and no scouts’ radar guns can measure, is maturity. Bjarkman, the Cuban baseball scholar, publicly called Chapman “uncoachable” while some scouts took note of how he grimaced and writhed at an uncomfortable strike zone at the WBC. Chapman explains it more as a cultural difference rather than a personal shortcoming. “In Cuba, the athletes fight a lot with the umpires. They’re always arguing with the umpires,” he told SI.com. “Here, that’s rare.”

    Questions about his makeup resurfaced last month when Chapman orchestrated a defection of a different sort, abruptly ditching Mejia, his agent, in the middle of contract negotiations and signing with the Hendricks brothers, who boast a client list of Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and, most recently, fellow Cuban defector Kendry Morales, with whom Chapman had spoken during the 2009 playoffs. One NL executive who has followed Chapman says that fellow Cuban players acquainted with him have described the pitcher as temperamental and crazy.

  32. RedinFla

    Why am I “awaiting moderation”? ’cause I responded in Spanish?
    Thought it was appropriate..

    • pinson343

      RedinFla: Why am I “awaiting moderation”?’cause I responded in Spanish?
      Thought it was appropriate..

      The “awaiting moderation” thing happens randomly. My experience is that is has nothing to do with the content posted. Chad has explained it a couple of times, it seems to be more of a bug than a feature.

      • Chris

        Using a foreign language is a red flag for the filter, though.

        pinson343: The “awaiting moderation” thing happens randomly. My experience is that is has nothing to do with the content posted. Chad has explained it a couple of times, it seems to be more of a bug than a feature.

  33. EKyRedsFan

    I just heard the news and I’ll be honest, I almost crapped myself. The Reds came out of NOWHERE and gave me a reason to care again. Unbelievable.

  34. Chris

    We now have an Ardolis to add to Edinson, Yonder, Yorman, and my favorite, Theodis Bowe.

  35. CeeKeR

    I’m as shocked as anyone else too. The bad news seems to be that the Reds aren’t planning on playing for this season. The good news is that the Reds finally seem to have a “target year” to actually compete…let’s just hope it works out!

  36. JustTheFacts

    @Tom Diesman: You’re cramping my buzz, man. Wait until tomorrow before you hit use with the facts.

    @Chris: Don’t forgot Enerio, Misael, Yovan, and my favorite Mauricio.

  37. hoosierdad

    Just did not see this as becoming a reality. You can teach new pitches. You can teach control. You can teach mechanics. You can’t teach a guy to throw 100mph if God didn’t give him the ability to do it. Let’s hope all goes well with his progress. I would think you gotta start him at AAA with that kinda contract and his age.

  38. Matt WI

    Nice job Walt/Bob. Nice to be able to say that. DFA Willy and you’ll have some real traction around here.

  39. Y-City Jim

    So where does he start his Cincinnati career?

      • Tom Diesman

        Chad Dotson:
        Educated guess: Carolina (AA).

        I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it wasn’t at A+ Lynchburg. They will be having him work in games with his tweaked mechanics trying to get his control under wraps and working on refining his secondary pitches. I think they’d rather have him do it at a level where he is more likely to see some success and boost his confidence. The smaller crowds in A+ might also be better to start for him since he does not speak English.

  40. daedalus

    @Chad Dotson: i’m still in shock, too. can’t wait for the press conference tomorrow(?) to see him put on a Cincinnati jersey.

  41. preach

    I go away for a couple days and this happens? Uh, wow. Didn’t see this coming. Beats the heck out of Josh Anderson.

  42. pinson343

    “One NL executive who has followed Chapman says that fellow Cuban players acquainted with him have described the pitcher as temperamental and crazy.”

    Tempermental and crazy ? So was Mario Soto at that age.

    • RedinFla

      pinson343: “One NL executive who has followed Chapman says that fellow Cuban players acquainted with him have described the pitcher as temperamental and crazy.”Tempermental and crazy ? So was Mario Soto at that age.

      Let’s hope Soto can share some wisdom about more than just pitching. At any rate, he’ll be a fan magnet, that’s for sure.
      And no, I don’t know how to say all that in Spanish.

  43. Travis G.

    Yeah, I’m thinking he’ll log some innings at High A to work on his mechanics, etc., and then move up to AA if he succeeds. I think we’ll see him in Cincinnati this year, but it’s more likely to be at the end of the year. Let’s keep in mind that he’s (allegedly) a year or so younger than Homer Bailey is now. Seems like there’s some similarities in makeup between those two, give or take the cultural differences.

    But this signing firmly plants the Reds back in the big leagues.

  44. nick in va

    @Tom Diesman: If he starts in Lynchburg I might have to make the drive there to catch a game. That would be fun.

  45. Bill Lack

    Enquirer today says either A or Double AA, I’d guess Lynchburg hopefully so he’ll have some success, then challenge him.

    Is there any question about his age?

  46. Chad Dotson

    No question whatsoever about his age, according to a couple of the articles linked in the post above…something to do with Chapman having a passport and playing in international competitions for years.

    And if Chapman starts in Lynchburg, I’ll be joining nick at the ballyard.

  47. JustTheFacts

    Chad and Nick, if you go, can you announce when? I am also a Virginia boy now living in Cincinnati (Loveland actually), but my family is still in Virginia and I travel back to see them often. I can schedule a trip around a little Nation outing.

  48. Zblakey

    ❗ I am in Richmond and would love to drive over to Lynchburg for a game as well.

  49. nick in va

    A Redleg Nation gathering in Lynchburg to show our support would be fun (could we all wear sombreros? :D).

  50. Chad Dotson

    That’s 4 of us already (plus my brother in Charlottesville makes 5)…sounds like we can make this work.

    The editors had already been planning outings for Louisville (hopefully for a Matt Klinker start) and Cincinnati for 2010. Let’s add Lynchburg to the list.

    As the season approaches, we can start talking dates and we’ll make it an official Redleg Nation outing. I’ve been to the stadium there in Lynchburg, and it’s a fun place to take in a game.

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