4:55 PM Eastern
It appears as though the Blue Jays’ efforts to sign Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman have fallen short, with the story this afternoon that Chapman will sign with the Cincinnati Reds – a deal that could be worth as much as $25 million and could lock up the youngish lefty for as long as six years.
I’m thinking that amount would probably go beyond what the Blue Jays believed to be “within reason” though the term, if it’s that long, would mitigate the cost quite a bit. We’re still in the rumour stage, but several Cincinnati sources say they’ve confirmed that Aroldis is a Red.
There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news is that the Jays lost out on a guy who may well turn out to be an elite-level, front-of-the-rotation pitcher. The good news is that the Jays were likely one of the three finalists for Chapman’s services.
It’s funny – J.P. Ricciardi often got criticized for saying that the Jays weren’t in on any free agents. It seemed the fans just wanted him to say that they were (even if they weren’t), and then when the player signed elsewhere, they’d take solace in the fact at least the Jays had been in there slugging. That’s what happened here – though they were actually in it. The Jays missed, but by being in the running, they’ve shown the fans that they’re willing to spend significant money to improve if the planets are sufficiently aligned.
It doesn’t mean they’re going to throw $25 million at a Jon Garland-type to lock him up for the next three years, but it does mean that if there’s a special talent who is young, who can be controlled for a while, and whose only cost is money, then the Blue Jays will get involved. This augurs well for the Jays’ re-entry into Latin America, and maybe even for a serious entry into the Pacific Rim (with apologies to Ken Takahashi).
Should the Jays have coughed up the extra $5 million or so that could have locked Chapman up?
Well, firstly, that assumes that money was not only the main factor in signing Chapman, but that he was going to the highest bidder regardless. That may be the case, but it may not.
But let’s say cash was king – ought the Blue Jays to have ponied up? The Jays saved a grand total of 25.7 million 2010 payroll dollars simply by divesting themselves of Roy Halladay, Alex Rios and Scott Rolen. Kick in another couple million and get Chapman? If I was convinced of his talent, I probably do that. On a six-year deal, though, he wouldn’t necessarily pay for himself, depending on how quickly he got to the big leagues. I know the Jays see Chapman as someone who is very, very raw but who is a very, very special talent.
Is he really 22? Or he is 26? 28? It’s impossible to know. There is plenty of suspicion that he’s older than he claims to be, and unless you cut him in half and count the rings, there’s really no way to know.
If it comes down to a yes or no, would I have made sure I was the highest bidder if I was Alex Anthopoulos? Honestly, I don’t know. If I thought I was going to sign a guy for about $21 million, would I let myself be pushed to $26 million? That’s about 25% more than I was originally willing to pay, and that’s pushing it, at the very least. Given the Jays’ seeming abundance of young pitching, I’d likely have said no, too. But it’s still a terrific gamble for the Reds to take, and it means that while there’s now one thing off AA’s front burner, there are still plenty more burners a-burnin’.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!