The Royals are set to sign left-hander Aroldis Chapman, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. Alfre Alvarez of Con Las Bases Llenas had previously reported that a deal was close. Feinsand adds that Chapman will get $3.75MM on a one-year deal, plus performance bonuses.
Chapman, 35 in February, spent over a decade as one of the most feared closers in baseball but has slipped from those heights in the past couple of years. From 2010 to 2020, he made 563 appearances with the Reds, Cubs and Yankees, posting a 2.25 ERA while racking up 276 saves. His 11.5% walk rate in that time was certainly on the high side, but he paired that with an incredible 41.2% strikeout rate. Only Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen had more saves in that time and only Josh Hader bested him in terms of strikeout rate, minimum 100 innings pitched, though Hader didn’t debut until 2017 and did that over a much smaller sample.
In 2021, however, Chapman’s already shaky command seemed to get even worse, as he walked 15.6% of batters who came to the plate. He still posted a huge 39.9% strikeout rate but his 3.36 ERA was his highest in a season since 2011. Things got even worse last year as his walk rate jumped to 17.5% and he only struck out 26.9% of batters faced. That latter number was still above average but a huge drop from his previous form. When combined with the control issues, his ERA jumped to 4.46.
The issues with Chapman weren’t limited to his on-field performance either. He had already drawn the disapproval of many people in the baseball world years ago when a domestic violence allegation led to a 30-game suspension. More recently, he also drew the ire of many Yankee fans by missing time due to an infection from a tattoo. He then skipped a team workout between the regular season and postseason, leading the club to leave him off their playoff roster.
More to come.