With the ongoing CBA negotiations, it’s not surprising to see a stall in how teams are conducting their big spending in this offseason. However, expensive players aren’t off the menu, with Aroldis Chapman aiming at becoming the highest paid reliever in MLB history, with the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Dodgers all in the picture. The Washington Nationals also seem to be at the table.
What about the Chicago Cubs? Chapman played for them and helped them win a historic World Series after the trade deadline deal from the Yankees to Wrigley Field. With that in mind, the Cubs might be thinking about spending their free agency money elsewhere, with someone like Dexter Fowler to think about retaining, and perhaps looking in other directions when it comes to their next big name reliever. Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen will come after Chapman, and should be a tad cheaper, although not less effective. Making a trade for Zach Britton or David Robertson isn’t out of the picture too.
But now to teams that actually are interested in Chapman. The Nationals are losing Melancon to free agency, the Dodgers had Jensen who is a free agent too, and the Giants saw their season collapse due to their bullpen struggles. Last season they spent big on the rotation, this year might be the time for one big signing in the bullpen, hoping it settles their problems heading into the ninth inning. Madison Bumgarner can’t play a complete game every day of the week.
Is Chapman going to get a $100 million, five-year deal? That might be a bit much. It’ll probably be around the $90 million for the same amount of time. The Yankees do seem like the team in the best position to give him that kind of money, but they’ve been known to stay away from massive free agent signings in recent years. However, with bullpen superiority so important in recent seasons, and Dellin Betances having struggles closing games in the last couple of months, there might be no other choice but to spend big when it comes to closers.
Chapman, a four-time All-Star, missed the beginning of last season due to his alleged domestic abuse suspension. He finished with a tremendous 0.862 WHIP and a 1.55 ERA, while striking out 14 batters per nine inning, doing a better job of avoiding walks and overall showing good control most of the time. He’s going to get the money he’s looking for, but it’ll be interesting to see how many teams are left in the race for him once the numbers start getting thrown around. Some of these negotiations are being held to try and lower the price of other, more reasonable options.