Jeff Passan just reported through his unverified Twitter account, and Jeff Blair of the Toronto Globe and Mail confirmed, that the Reds have signed Aroldis Chapman for five years, $30 million and holy moly are they setting themselves up for disaster.
The contract will probably be heavily backloaded, but as we discussed in yesterday’s post, control is basically the hardest thing for a pitcher to learn and it’s entirely possible that the Reds will pay all of that $30 million just to develop Aroldis without seeing him reach his potential.
What makes it worse is that the Reds aren’t particularly good at developing pitchers, even worse at teaching control at the major league level. Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto both went through the Reds minor league system and both have been less than average at the major league level–most noteably Cueto, who has had two full years in the majors and hasn’t been able to get his hits per nine innings under 9. If there’s any hope, Bailey finally posted his first sub-3 BB/9 season in a significant amount of time in the minors last year.
Both Bailey and Cueto were brought up too early, which may have been the fault of former GM Wayne Krivsky, but Jocketty has a problem with that as well.
And then when they are ready, they’re often abused by Dusty Baker, who doesn’t seem to understand that pitchers shouldn’t exceed a certain amount of pitches in a given year for fear of overuse. Edinson Volquez was basically gifted to the Reds as a pitcher prepared for the majors and Dusty Baker decided to make him throw 50 more innings than he had ever pitched before. Now he’s out with TJ surgery.
Bottom line is it’s gonna take time for Chapman to develop and the Reds’ track record for giving talented pitchers a chance to succeed at every level before bringing them up, and then not abusing them when they’re ready, is terrible. Not to mention, they just gave him twice as much money as Stephen Strasburg, who’s basically ready to go, so their expectations have to place him in the majors soon, if not immediately.
Edit: John Fay, the Reds beat reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer, is reporting it’s not signed and the deal may be 10 years.