Aroldis Chapman might be the most interesting player on the free agent market, and not just because of his agent fiasco, his potential tax issues and the questionable company he keeps.
No, Chapman is a largely unknown flame-thrower from Cuba with tantalizing talents of Nuke LaLouche proportions. He has been attracting plenty of interest around baseball, but it remains a mystery as to who will get him.
The Yankees seem particularly interested, at least when you look at these quotes from senior vice-president of baseball operations Mark Newman in an interview with LoHud.com:
“Who knows what the price tag is going to be on this deal,” Newman said. “He’s not where (Stephen) Strasburg was.” When Chapman threw a bullpen for scouts earlier this month, Newman said the reports were exactly what he expected: Huge fastball. Spotty command. Inconsistent secondary pitches. “But if you don’t like that, you need to be in another business,” Newman said.
Newman also said that if the Yankees sign him, Chapman would likely start in A or Double-A as he works on improving his control and off-speed stuff. “And when he gets that, he’s going to take off.”
Some candid quotes about an intriguing player. It will be interesting to see where Chapman winds up.
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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.
I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.
Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.
Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?