Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman struggled in the final World Series games. He is likely the top free agent. Where are the best fantasy-friendly locations?
The Chicago Cubs just won the World Series, which means the start of the offseason begins. With teams and players declining options, the free agent pool is growing. Of all the pitchers, starters and relievers, this player might be the biggest name on the list.
Aroldis Chapman is a free agent and there will be plenty of suitors for him.
Chapman has been a dominant closer wherever he’s gone. He has a career 182 saves with a 2.08 ERA, 0.992 WHIP and 15.2 K/9. There is no team that wouldn’t want those numbers anchoring their bullpen.
Unfortunately, there are only a select number of teams that will be able to afford the money he is looking for. So, sorry to the Tampa Bay Rays or Milwaukee Brewers. You will likely be facing Chapman at some point next season, regardless of where he signs.
At just 28 years old, Chapman still has a lot left in the tank, despite what you saw in Game 7 of the World Series. He will be one of the top five closers drafted in fantasy leagues, no matter where he signs.
All five of these teams listed can definitely use the services of Chapman for next season and beyond. I like to leave the off-the-field stuff exactly there, off the field. When he pitches, Chapman is the best closer in the game.
Here are the top five teams that have the best chance to sign Chapman and will be favorable to his fantasy value in 2017.
The San Francisco Giants may have the worst closer situation of the five teams on the list.
Santiago Casilla was the team’s primary closer, but the team used a slew of relievers in the role. Casilla will turn 37 halfway through the 2017 season. So, I expect the Giants looking for younger options in the closer role.
Sergio Romo, the team’s previous closer, will turn 34 at the beginning of March. Chapman will turn 29 next season. Eight, and even four, years makes a big difference in a pitcher. If Chapman was Casilla’s or Romos age, he might be this coveted.
The National League West doesn’t have the best offenses. While the Coors Effect is still a thing, the other four divisional home fields seem to favor the pitchers.
The Giants have serviceable set-up and middle relievers to hold down the fort until calling upon Chapman.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a similar boat to the Cubs. They could be losing their elite closer in Kenley Jansen.
MLB Trade Rumors wrote a piece comparing the two pitchers. They highlighted that Chapman and Jansen will be pitching in their age-29 seasons in 2017. If you compare Chapman’s numbers to Jansen’s (2.20 ERA, 13.92 K/9 and 2.62 BB/9 across 408 2/3 frames), they are very similar.
Chapman recorded 182 saves in 203 chances, 90 percent, while Jansen has converted more than 189 of 214, 88 percent. The big difference between the two is Chapman is a left-hander and can throw over 100 MPH consistently.
If you remember Chapman was almost a Dodger last season, but the domestic violence claims were brought to light. However, with almost a year removed from that, the Dodgers could bring Chapman in for next season.
I expect the Dodgers to send a qualifying offer to Jansen, and they aren’t wrong to do so. Though, fantasy owners may want to see Chapman pitch in the West.
Melancon is a free agent, and a cheaper option than Chapman, but the Nationals are looking to go back to the playoffs. While they may be able to do that with Melancon, Chapman guarantees them a shutdown pitcher in the final inning.
The National League East offense is not great. I know I’ve mentioned that before. Multiple teams finished in the bottom in runs scored and batting average.
Putting Chapman out in the ninth inning against those poor offenses doesn’t give much hope to those opposing teams. Unlike Papelbon, Chapman doesn’t seem to complain about not being the closer. And that makes for a better environment for all involved.
In 26.2 innings, Chapman recorded 16 saves with a 1.01 ERA, 0.825 WHIP, 15.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. The only negative effect with the trade to Chicago was the increased walk rate. Other than that, Chapman held down the bullpen and helped lead the Cubs to the Fall Classic.
Luckily for the Cubs, they do not have many expensive salaries during the 2017 season. Their stars will cost a lot more in a couple of years, but as of now, they should spend the money to bring back Chapman.
The National League Central doesn’t have the most elite offenses, so Chapman will continue to have success in this division.
Which side won out when the New York Yankees traded Chapman to the Cubs? Let’s see.
The Yankees received a decent haul to build towards the future and Chapman won a World Series ring. The kicker is that Chapman is free to return back to New York and the Yankees don’t have to lose any prospects.
In the first half of the 2016 season, Chapman had a 2.01 ERA, 0.894 WHIP, 12.6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and 20 saves. He did miss 30 days due to a suspension, but he was able to close out games without a hitch.
Chapman is one of the best closers in the game. If any of these five times can sign him, long or short-term, they have the chance to shut down any opponent in the ninth inning. Let’s just hope they are smarter and decide not to pitch him multiple innings in back-to-back games.