The Chicago Cubs will have essentially three months to sell Aroldis Chapman on why Chicago is the place to be. Now, winning a World Series might go a long way in that pitch–but if they don’t, is he worth the money to sign?
The Chicago Cubs gave up a small ransom for Aroldis Chapman, with Gleyber Torres being the main chip in that deal. The Cubs No. 1 prospect had been impressive, but he seemed blocked by Addison Russell, Javier Baez and even Ben Zobrist. Also, the Cubs have done a spectacular job at identifying players who they see as being contributors, and moving on from those that don’t (See Dan Vogelbach).
So now comes the million dollar question–or $60 million–can they or will they try to sign Chapman this winter? If the Cubs do indeed break the curse, would they be more likely to let him walk away? It’s not as if Hector Rondon can’t do the job, but this was thought to be a move to win now.
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Chapman has come to Chicago and said all the right things. He’s felt at home, part of the family. And most of all, he sees the city’s desire to win.
"“It’s a demanding fan base. They are crazy about their team and they are hungry [for a championship]. The team has welcomed me with open arms. What I have seen from these fans is not something you see every day.” h/t Marly Rivera, ESPN Writer"
From Cincinnati to New York, and now to the City of Big Shoulders. Maybe that’s fitting, as it’s possible the team and the city can help lift Chapman up after he came with excess baggage following his suspension for a domestic violence issue in which he fired off a weapon and was suspended by Major League Baseball, even though no charges were filed.
Everyone has an opinion for his off the field issues, but there’s very little to that of what he can do on the field. A southpaw closer that throws absolute gas. His first game with the Cubs he threw more 100+ MPH pitches than the Cubs had thrown–and he did that with the first one that hit triple digits.
So would the Cubs be willing to commit somewhere near $15 million per year, for possibly four or five years? Chapman will be 29 when he hits free agency this winter, but how long can he be expected to throw as hard as he does now? Would his effectiveness dip? And what if he suffers a drop in velocity, can he still be a closer?
Closers don’t always last long. Eric Gagne, Brad Lidge–and even Carlos Marmol. At the top of their game for a short period, and then *POOF*, they were no more. The Trevor Hoffman‘s, Mariano Rivera‘s and Dennis Eckersley‘s are a rare few. But Chapman could very well fall into the latter of those groups.
Rondon is signed through 2019, and he’s more than capable of being a top-tier closer. The Cubs are going to have some decisions to make as far as starting pitching in the next few years, so tying up a chunk of change for Chapman might not be a smart move. Yes, they’re filling Wrigley. And the new boards are bringing revenue. But you don’t want to necessarily push yourself to the limit, even for a guy like Chapman.
This isn’t a for or against op-ed, it’s a legitimate question, with so many variables. If the Cubs win (Just talking hypothetically here), the team may still offer him a contract, but not at the high price he may command on the market. If he’s effective down the stretch and in the playoffs but the Cubs come up short (Again, hypothetical–don’t come after me), they might feel that $15 million or more a year is worth the gamble.
Whatever the case, I hope that this is a conversation we’re having while still coming down from one of the greatest parties the city has ever seen.