Update 8 Jan:
Reports state that both the Blue Jays and Angels have taken the lead in the sweepstakes with offers approximating $23,000,000. If true, it would leave all other offers rumoured in the dust and would make Aroldis decide between the 2, assuming no other team comes up with a better offer before one is agreed to.
Update 7 Jan:
It was brought to my attention that the Jays may actually be leading the race for Chapman due to 3 very important reasons.
1 – Canada has friendly relations with Cuba, whereas the United States do not. If Aroldis values his family and wants to bring them to North America, Canada is the easier country to do it with, obviously.
2 – Alex Anthopoulos returns from his honeymoon tomorrow, the exact day Aroldis hinted a deal could be completed and announced – pending physical of course, unless it was already done during the private scouting session.
3 – The Jays were the ONLY team to ask for and receive a private session which proves 2 things: Aroldis and his agent are willing to sign with Toronto, and the Jays proved their serious interest and presumably let Aroldis know he was their #1 priority.
The Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes have made me realize one major point about the Blue Jays: They lack International presence on their roster despite spending lots of money in the Dominican and in Venezuela. I realized this when it was mentioned that the presence of Kendry Morales on the Angels was a lure for Aroldis to sign there instead of going elsewhere. It also reminded me that Hedo Turkogulu signed with the Raptors specifically because the Turkish community was so strong in numbers within Toronto, while passing up more money from other teams.
The current 40-man roster for the Jays holds only 5 International players:
- Reidier Gonzalez – Cuba
- Jose Bautista – Dominican Republic
- Luis Perez – Dominican Republic
- Edwin Encarnacion – Dominican Republic
- Alex Gonzalez – Venzuela
The remainder are all from the United States or Canada. That makes the International presence on the Jays 12.5% on the 40-man roster. For a quick comparison, the Red Sox currently have 12 International players for a 30% total. Does this make them the better team just because they have International presence? No, it’s obviously not that simple. But, if a Japanese player like Yu Darvish was looking to sign with an MLB club, would he be more likely to accept a deal to the Red Sox who have 3 prominent Japanese players, or the Jays who have none? This is exactly the reason why Alex should be willing to overpay slightly in order to get someone like Chapman on board, it sets the table for future signings and attracts other International players to follow suit.
I’ll take the lack of International presence one step further. Only 2 of the top 10 Jays prospects listed by Baseball America were International players – SP Henderson Alvarez (Venezuela) and C Carlos Perez (Venezuela). Both of these players are a direct result of the Blue Jays spending the money needed within Venezuela to scout players appropriately. Shouldn’t they be doing the same thing elsewhere? What about Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, and most obviously – the Dominican Republic?
Alex obviously had this on his mind when he expanded the scouting capacity of the Blue Jays and I definitely hope it bears fruit, because the Jays can definitely use a lot more International talent on their roster. However, as it stands today, the best opportunity for the Jays to begin the process of adding International presence on the roster starts with signing Aroldis Chapman. Once that’s done, the Jays need to make sure that they spend the money on scouting Aroldis type players early in order to sign them before they display their full potential.
Here’s to hoping the Jays can pull this one off!