MLB: Aroldis Chapman agrees to deal with Reds
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI — Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman agreed Monday to a $30.25, six-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds, who view him as an addition to their rotation down the road.
The 21-year-old gained notoriety during the World Baseball Classic in March, when he pitched well against Australia and badly against Japan, throwing his fastball around 100 mph fastball. He’s had control problems that will be his biggest obstacle at the outset.
Chapman gets a signing bonus of $16.25 million that will be paid over time. Some of the money in his contract will be paid out over a 10-year span.
The contract framework helps the Reds, who are expected to trim their payroll from last season’s final figure of $72.7 million. The Reds drew 1.7 million fans during their ninth straight losing season, their smallest gate since 1986.
“Financially, it works for us,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “It does not impact our major league payroll this year in a significant way.”
Chapman defected in July. He threw a bullpen session for major league teams in Houston last month. Agent Randy Hendricks said between six and eight teams were strongly interested in Chapman, who attended a news conference and put on a Reds jersey.
Chapman doesn’t speak English and knew virtually nothing about major league teams. The Reds plan to have catcher Ramon Hernandez work out with him in Florida.
Jocketty said it’s too soon to tell whether he will be a candidate for a starting job with the Reds this spring, or whether he’ll need time in the minors to continue working on his delivery. Chapman, who also pitched in relief for Cuba, will be groomed for the rotation.
“I think that’s where his future is,” Jocketty said. “We see him as potentially a top-of-the-rotation starter at some point.”
The 6-foot-4 Chapman was a first baseman primarily until he was 15 or 16, when a school pitching coach suggested he convert to pitching. By the 2005 season, he was 18 and pitching for Holguin in the Cuban national league.
He defected last July, leaving the Cuban national team after it arrived in the Netherlands for a tournament. He then established residency in Andorra so he could choose his team as a free agent and not be subject to baseball’s draft.