Is Chapman Worth the Risk for the Jays?


The Jays recently held a private session with Aroldis Chapman on the 31st of December, making them one of many teams that are chasing the 21 year old Cuban. So far, there are reports that the Red Sox (rumored to be around 15.5 million) and Marlins (rumored to be around 13 million) have made official offers, and that the Angels are preparing to do so as well. While it seems far fetched that the Jays could outbid both the Angels and Red Sox, it would be very impressive if they did. It could be the case that the Jays are simply doing their due diligence, but to have a private session of the day of New Year’s eve makes a statement that their interest is real and that he impressed enough during his bullpen session with all teams to have the Jays ask for the private session.

Does it make sense for the Jays to chase an unproven talent from Cuba? I’m not really sure. But, I do believe that the price will determine whether he is worth the risk. If he signs for a 5-year $50million dollar deal and ends up in the bullpen, it could really hurt the Jays and dampen their chances of keeping core players down the road. If they can manage to sign him for 5 years at $25 million, the contract is much more manageable.

I read a breakdown of his delivery and stuff at Baseball-Intellect which does a good job of analyzing what we do know about Aroldis, but we just don’t know enough yet to know if he’s an Oliver Perez type of pitcher, or whether he can really deliver as a #1-3 starter. If he becomes a #1 starter, the Jays would look great and fans would be thankful. The chances of this happening are fairly slim, but he does have that kind of potential. The biggest question marks seem to be whether he has the mental toughness to pitch 190+ high-quality innings, and whether his talent would translate in MLB. If he becomes a reliever or #4-5 starter at $10 million per season, will fans be forgiving at all? I believe chances are they would for a couple of simple reasons: it fits their plans of getting young talent into the organization and fans are sick of seeing the Jays sit idle while other teams attempt to gather the most talent.

I would argue that $10 million per season 4-5 years from now for a #1-3 starter would be a huge bargain. If the Jays could somehow deal Vernon Wells and his contract, Aroldis would become the highest paid player in the organization.

So, when will Aroldis sign? When he and his agents feel that the peak of the offers have been received and not before then. Lackey, Wolf, Vazquez and Halladay have new homes, leaving few attractive SP options on the market. With hype building and more teams joining the fray each day, I’m certain the low-ball contracts offered by the Red Sox and Marlins will not get a deal done, but it is curious that no team has decided to jump over the top to get him signed quickly. Could the Jays come out on top with a $25 million offer? They very well could at this point if other rumored amounts are correct.

Can the Jays even afford this amount if they know they are likely going to miss the playoffs for the next few seasons? Well, according to Cot’s, they have $62,417,857 alloted so far for 2010. I’m guessing that surpassing the $90 million mark would be hard to do, so the Jays could theoretically have in the vicinity of $27.5 million to hand Aroldis, well below what the rumors are stating about what he may receive in the end, but well above what others are currently offering. However, if the Jays know they can deal Downs and Overbay, they may have another $10 million which would put them well within the hunt at $37.5 million.

With Aroldis in the rotation, the Jays would lessen the focus on the young starters they do have and would be building quite a core of young pitchers. Morrow, Cecil, Romero, Rzepczynski, and Litsch would provide the Jays with one of the most promising young groups in the AL. Add Drabek, Stewart, and potentially others to that mix and you’ve got something cooking. Do I think it’s going to happen? Probably not since other teams are more desperate and have bigger budgets to chase him down with. Would I be surprised to see Alex pull it off? Definitely not, since the wily youngster has surprised almost everyone watching since he took the helm.

I say why not make Aroldis the 2 highest paid player on the Jays for the next 5 years? What do we have to lose?If anything, the Jays gain the option of dealing 1 starter, such as Shaun Marcum to another team in return for some young hitting talent.