Padres taking substantial risk by pursuing Aroldis Chapman
By Mike Luciano
With or without the presence of Josh Hader, the San Diego Padres are doing everything they can to build a dominant bullpen for years to come, anchored by names like Seth Lugo and Robert Suarez. Can Aroldis Chapman be a veteran target for a team that could use one more big left-handler?
Chapman, who became famous for regularly touching above 104 miles per hour on the radar gun with his fastballs, is one of the best relievers of his generation. A seven-time All-Star with a career 2.48 ERA and 315 saves, Chapman's blistering heat helped make him a star with the Reds, champion on the Cubs, and ace for the Yankees.
Unfortunately, his final season in the Bronx showed that his once mighty fastball is not as unhittable as it was, and his command started to slip away from him. Even after posting a gnarly 4.46 ERA with the Yankees and going AWOL before the playoffs, Chapman has some suitors.
The Padres are reportedly trying to acquire Chapman, thought they face competition from the Royals and Marlins. Miami could be a very interesting opponent to watch, as Chapman lives in South Florida during the offseason. San Diego should let Miami have him, as the risks are too numerous.
The San Diego Padres must avoid Aroldis Chapman.
Over the last three seasons, Chapman has put up an iffy 3.71 ERA. The alarming number of walks is concerning, as he has given away 71 free passes in just 104 innings. When you're not making everyone wet themselves in the box at the thought of facing your fastball, the lack of control becomes problematic.
Chapman still throws hard, but not "game-changing" hard. His fastball ranked 37th in the league in average velocity at 97.5 miles per hour, which is actually behind Suarez and his 97.9 mile-per-hour heater. Chapman, who will be 35 when the season starts, isn't getting any younger here.
At this point in his career, Chapman is coasting off his past accomplishments and the idea of what he could be in the right scenario. Miami might have some use for him due to how barren their bullpen is, but San Diego has enough depth.
Chapman is on the back nine of his career, and his performance last year suggests that he'll be nothing more than a garden variety middle relief pitcher that likely won't be compensated as such. San Diego can still build a tremendous bullpen without his services.