Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman signed a six-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds.
Chapman, a hard-throwing 21-year-old, made two starts for Cuba in last year’s World Baseball Classic before defecting. He then filed for free agency, beginning an intense pursuit by numerous clubs. The Toronto Blue Jays recently offered Chapman $23 million, but that was not enough. Chapman, who will turn 22 years old in February, was introduced at a press conference at Great American Ball Park. He will wear No. 54.
"This is a very significant signing and an exciting move in the right direction," GM Walt Jocketty said.
The Reds theoretically have room for Chapman in their 2010 rotation, but they may prefer that he develop in the minor leagues before making his debut.
While some in the industry have reservations about Chapman’s maturity, one player agent (who was not involved in the negotiations) believes that the team took a sensible risk by signing him.
As a small-market club, the Reds can’t often compete for the highest-priced major league free agents each offseason. And Chapman has the power repertoire that should enable him to succeed at hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark.
“(International scouting) is one area where you can inject talent to your organization at a discount,” the agent said. “If Chapman ends up being a front-of-the-rotation guy in the near future, it’s a bargain. They can’t afford that type of guy otherwise.
“They’ve got really good international scouts, and they’ve invested on the international side.”
An official announcement is expected once Chapman passes a physical examination. Since his contract is a major-league deal, he will then be added to the Reds’ 40-man roster.
Yahoo! Sports was the first to report Sunday morning that Chapman had agreed to a $30 million contract with a National League team.