The Royals are ready to sign left-handed Aroldis Chapmanreports MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. Alfre Alvarez from With Full Bases had previously signaled that a deal was close. Feinsand adds that Chapman will receive $3.75 million on a one-year contract, plus performance bonuses.
Chapman, 35 in February, has spent more than a decade as one of baseball’s most feared players but has slipped from those heights in the past two years. From 2010 to 2020, he made 563 appearances for the Reds, Cubs and Yankees, posting a 2.25 ERA while racking up 276 saves. His walk rate of 11.5% at that time was certainly high, but he paired it with an incredible strikeout rate of 41.2%. Alone Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen had more stops during this period and only Josh Hader beat him in strikeout rate, minimum 100 innings pitched, although Hader only made his debut in 2017 and did so on a much smaller sample.
In 2021, however, Chapman’s already shaky drive seemed to get even worse, as he walked 15.6% of batters who came to the plate. He still posted a whopping 39.9% strikeout rate, but his 3.36 ERA was his highest in a season since 2011. Things got even worse last year as his walk rate jumped to 17.5% and he struck out just 26.9% of batters faced. This latter number was still above average but a huge drop from its previous form. When combined with the control issues, his ERA jumped to 4.46.
The issues with Chapman weren’t limited to his performance on the pitch, either. He had already drawn disapproval from many in the baseball world years ago when an allegation of domestic violence resulted in a 30-game suspension. More recently, he has also drawn the ire of many Yankees fans by missing time due to a tattoo infection. He then skipped a team practice between the regular season and the playoffs, which led to the club dropping him off their playoff roster.