Reds will pay Cuban $30.25M
Aroldis Chapman knew so little about baseball in the United States that before he could pick a team, he had to look at a map. The left-hander from Cuba had never seen a major league game on television and couldn't name all the teams.
He finally settled on one that wears a distinctive "C" on its red cap, like the one he left.
Chapman agreed yesterday to a $30.25 million, six-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds, who view him as an important addition to their rotation down the road. The small-market club with limited payroll enticed him to Cincinnati, where he took a physical, signed a deal and saw snow for the first time.
"When you look at the size of the market we are here in Cincinnati, we have to take some bold moves from time to time to try to improve this franchise," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We felt this was a very significant move."
Agent Randy Hendricks said eight teams were in the running to sign Chapman, who turns 22 next month. It came down to Cincinnati, Oakland and another team whom the agent wouldn't identify.
Chapman defected in July at a tournament in the Netherlands, leaving the Cuban national team known as international baseball's Big Red Machine because of its uniforms and its domination. He established residency in Andorra so he could choose his team as a free agent and not be subject to baseball's draft.
Chapman gained some notoriety during the World Baseball Classic in March, when he pitched well against Australia and poorly against Japan. His fastball occasionally topped 100 mph, getting the attention of major league scouts.
The 6-foot-4 Chapman attended the news conference with Hendricks and a lawyer who functioned as an interpreter. Asked why he defected, he said: "Because the best baseball players in the world are from the United States. I think any baseball player in the world would want to play in the United States."
Rangers: Vladimir Guerrero and the Texas Rangers have finalized a one-year contract that guarantees him $6.5 million and includes a mutual option for 2011.
The eight-time All-Star and former AL MVP passed a physical yesterday.
• Also, Khalil Greene is close to becoming a utility infielder for Texas.
Greene has agreed to a one-year deal to fill a utility role for Texas, according to sources. Greene hit .200 with six homers in 77 games for the Cardinals last season.
Cubs: Pitching great Greg Maddux has rejoined the Chicago Cubs as an assistant to general manager Jim Hendry.
The 355-game winner, who started his major league career with the Cubs in 1986 and rejoined them from 2004-06, retired as a player after the 2008 season.