While 2009 No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg is set to throw his first pitch in a Nationals uniform on Tuesday, Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman made his Cactus League debut earlier this afternoon.
Appearing in relief of Bronson Arroyo, Chapman tossed two scoreless frames, allowing only one hit while striking out three. 15 of his 26 pitches were thrown for strikes. But what will really have people talking is the supposed velocity of those pitches.
According to this report by Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today, Chapman’s heater reached as high as 102 mph during the contest, while he struck out Chris Getz looking on a 100-mph fastball. I’m a bit skeptical until I see more data, but as Keith Law of ESPN.com perfectly summed up following his outing:
Two word scouting report on Aroldis Chapman: That’ll work.
I’m not sure how much we can glean from a two inning appearance, but Chapman shouldn’t be discounted from starting the season with the big club. Not yet, anyway. We’ve heard Dusty Baker can’t wait to work with him.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will opt out of his contract shortly after the World Series concludes. Cespedes, who earned $17.5 million for the 2016 season, has two years and $47.5 million remaining on his deal which includes an opt-out clause.
That Cespedes plans to opt out isn’t surprising as he’s almost certain to get a better contract entering a weak free agent market. He hit a terrific .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 86 RBI in 543 plate appearances for the Mets this past season.
It remains to be seen how the Mets will deal with potentially losing Cespedes. They can pick up a $13 million club option for Jay Bruce, but he performed terribly after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. The Mets could also go after free agents Jose Bautista or Mark Trumbo. Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto will handle the other two outfield positions.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.
Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.
Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.
Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.