MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon has a story on the Reds’ efforts to get Aroldis Chapman, dating back to his appearances in the World Baseball Classic. They scouted him pretty heavily, stayed out of the hot stove reports, had a private workout for him no one reported, made an offer, went back and forth with the Hendricks brothers “8000 times” and then held their breath, hoping that the Yankees or Red Sox wouldn’t swoop in.
Two things of particular interest in the article. First, more evidence that, when you’re dealing with amateur free agents, the small markets have advantages that the big teams don’t. Chapman agent Hendricks:
“‘If I had a great first baseman from Cuba, do you think I’d call the
St. Louis Cardinals first?’ We wanted opportunity. We would like to put
him in a system where he’d have an opportunity to emerge sooner.”
Who says there needs to be an international draft in order to level the playing field? Amateurs may very well seek out small market or losing teams for reasons that veteran free agents — who often want to win and win now — won’t.
The second thing: Walt Jocketty used the fact that Dusty Baker speaks Spanish as a selling point for Chapman. Holy Mark Prior, Batman! That means that the Reds may very well plan on keeping him after his contract expires this year!
Good luck with that Aroldis.