According to Melissa Segura of SI.com, Cuban defector and left handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman has been granted residency by the small European country Andorra which clears the biggest hurdle in the process of becoming a free agent pitcher.
Chapman’s Andorran residency clears the first and most difficult of the three major hurdles to becoming a major league free agent. Because Chapman had his passport — an almost unheard of occurrence for a Cuban defector — establishing residency took a fraction of the time needed for most defectors and may make him available for free agency before the playoffs begin, his agents say.
Supposedly 21-years-old and listed at 6′4″ and 180 lbs., Chapman is a lefty fireballer with a 102 MPH fastball and some not so polished secondary pitches. Earlier this season he was considered one of three best pitchers not in the majors along with Japan’s Yu Darvish and the recently drafted Stephen Strasburg.
In two starts during this year’s World Baseball Classic, while pitching for Cuba, Chapman threw 6.1 innings with a 5.68 ERA behind eight strike outs and four walks.
Segura’s article speculates that Chapman could sign for at least the same amount fellow defector Jose Contreras signed for back in 2003, 4-years and $32 million.
She also speculates that the Yankees and Red Sox will be among the first in line to sign the young and talented lefty, but notes that not everyone is very high on Chapman. One scouting director said he expected him to be a middle reliever.
As she noted though, in a shallow free agent pool, Chapman may be a good alternative.
I do believe she is right about the Yankees being interested, although when it comes to big names when aren’t the Yankees interested? But the reason is that Andy Pettitte will be 38-years-old next season and Joba Chamberlain has done little of late to be confident about.
The Yankees could be highly motivated too if they are knocked out of the playoffs earlier than hoped. Especially if it is one of their high-expectations pitchers letting them down in the playoffs.