Washington Nationals: Aroldis Chapman On Shopping List?

Reports indicate the Washington Nationals want the game’s best closer. Can they strike a deal for the hard-throwing pitcher?

The Washington Nationals are in pursuit of Aroldis Chapman.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports in his Sunday Notes piece the Nats, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers want the closer. Cafardo does not say whether the Chicago Cubs—where Chapman helped pitch to a World Series—will join the chase.

Washington is without an established closer as Mark Melancon is also a free agent. No word if the trade deadline pickup and the Nationals are talking.

Chapman, considered the best closer of this generation, would be quite the score for Washington. The 28-year-old fireballer spent six seasons with the Cincinnati Reds before joining the Yankees last year. New York traded him to the Cubs in a deal where Chicago packaged shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres and other prospects.

The plum free agent in a terrible class, Chapman will command top dollar wherever he goes.

A four-time All-Star with the Reds, Chapman has a 15.2 K/9 rate for his career. In 377 career innings, he scattered 201 hits or a gaudy 4.8 H/9 mark. With the Cubs, it dipped to 4.1 H/9 over 26.2 regular season frames. A playoff workhorse, he pitched in 14 games this year, including 7.2 in five World Series classics.

It is unclear what a Chapman contract will look like. Chances are he will make around $20 million per season. We do not know how many years and what opt-out clauses he is after, but you can imagine this will be a long-term and big money deal. If we were to guess, seven years and $140 million is not out of the question.

It may be on the low end.

If Washington can reel him in, they probably are content with the rest of the roster as what limited flexibility they have is gone. Trea Turner would continue in centerfield and Danny Espinosa has the shortstop position to lose. Whatever roster changes going forward would need trades to happen of equal money.

Scoring someone with Chapman’s abilities is worth the money and risk of contract. He can throw in the mid-100s. In 58 innings between the Yankees and Cubs, he fanned 90. In 2012 with the Reds, he struck out 122 in 71.2 frames. When you figure his Adjusted OPS+, it comes out to 24. That is 76 percent above-average!

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Most consider the Yankees as the overwhelming favorite to sign Chapman. They did not want to see him go and drew a healthy package in his trade. With millions coming off the payroll, they have the cash to spend.

New York may still be in the driver’s seat. We do not know how far along talks are, or for sure if Mike Rizzo has negotiated with his agent.

The Nationals going public with their interest bodes well for landing one of the big closers. They can re-sign Melancon or chase Kenley Jansen.

After chatter on starting pitchers, landing a big closer is a Christmas present everyone can love.

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