Aroldis Chapman, Pirates Agree to Deal

Aroldis Chapman
(Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Pirates have upgraded the back end of their bullpen by signing left-handed fireballer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Pirates. Chapman’s new contract will be worth $10.5 million of guaranteed money, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The club has not confirmed the deal, which is pending a physical. This marks the second straight one-year free-agent deal for Chapman. Limited to a fairly modest $3.75 million guarantee from the Kansas City Royals a year ago, he lands a raise on the heels of an impressive season with the Texas Rangers that culminated in his second World Series championship.

Late June Acquisition

The Rangers made a trade with the Royals for Chapman on June 30. They sent left-hander Cole Ragans and Dominican prospect Roni Cabrera to Kansas City in the exchange. The buzz surrounding the trade was felt immediately at Globe Life Field. Fans and team officials felt that Aroldis Chapman would have a strong impact on this Rangers team, and he did. During the 2023 campaign, Chapman turned in a 3.09 ERA over 58 1/3 innings, striking out a laughable 41.4% of opposing hitters. He allowed two runs in eight postseason innings in the Rangers’ march towards the Fall Classic.

Still Effective

While Chapman likely isn’t a closer at this stage in his career, he still has a fastball that averages 99.5 mph. He’s only had 15 regular-season saves in 20 opportunities over the last two seasons, and he finished last year in the 100th percentile in both whiff and strikeout rate. The biggest struggle for Chapman at this point in his career is wildness. He’s had a walk rate above 14.5% in each of the last three seasons, compared with an AL average of 8.0 to 8.5%. He finished 2023 with 36 walks in 58 1/3 innings. Chapman can still pitch late in games, but it is likely that the Pirates will stick with All-Star David Bednar as a closer, putting Chapman in a setup role.

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