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KC Royals set to sign Aroldis Chapman to 1-year deal

Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees pitches during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday, September 17, 2022 in Milwaukee.  (AP photo/Aaron Gash)

Aroldis Chapman of the New York Yankees pitches during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday, September 17, 2022 in Milwaukee. (AP photo/Aaron Gash)


The Kansas City Royals entered the offseason looking to add help to the bullpen. Ideally, they wanted a closer caliber relief pitcher to bolster their relief corps.

Their search led them to Aroldis Chapman, a former World Series champion who was once seen as an elite player. He also drew attention for high-profile off-field incidents.

The Royals and Chapman have reached an agreement on a one-year contract that will pay Chapman $3.75 million plus performance bonus according to Mark Feinsand of Chapman became a free agent after parts of seven seasons with the New York Yankees.

A left-hander Chapman, 34, has earned seven All-Star appearances in his 13 seasons in Major League Baseball. One of the toughest pitchers in MLB history, Chapman has seen a dip in his effectiveness in recent seasons with the Yankees.

Chapman’s tenure with the Yankees ended abruptly and unceremoniously, with him left off the postseason roster. The Yankees left him off the roster after he missed a mandatory team practice and stayed home in Miami, reportedly unhappy with how his season had turned out — including a demotion from the nearest job.

Since 2008, Chapman has thrown more pitches at 103 miles per hour or more than any pitcher in the majors. From 2014 to 2017, his four-seam fastball average speed eclipsed 100 mph, including an average of 101.6 mph in 2016 when he helped the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.

In 667 career appearances (640 innings), Chapman compiled a 2.48 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP, 3.29-to-1 hit-to-walk ratio, 14.7 strikeouts per 9 innings, and 315 saves. He has recorded 30 games or more eight times since 2012.

A dominant force for a period of his career, Chapman was a 2012-2015, 2018, 2019 and 2021 All-Star. He also earned the 2019 AL Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year Award, as well as an All-MLB selection. Team.

Last season, Chapman posted a 4.46 ERA in 43 appearances (36 1/3 innings) with a 1.43 WHIP, a 1.54-to-1 hit-to-walk ratio, 10.7 strikeouts per 9 innings and nine defenders.

He posted a four-seam fastball average speed of 97.5 mph, although he had an average speed on his sinker of 100.2 mph (only 34 pitches pitched).

Chapman didn’t allow a run in his first 12 starts of 2022, but allowed six runs in seven starts (5 2/3 innings) in May before going on the injured list with tendinitis in his left Achilles tendon.

After a rehab assignment, Chapman returned to the Yankees in July. He returned to TI in August because of an infection caused by a tattoo.

Chapman also struggled with mechanical and steering issues throughout the season after his fast start. His walks of 6.94 per 9 innings were the highest since 2011, and he posted a walk rate of 6.07 per 9 innings in 2021.

In 2016, Chapman became the first player suspended under MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy.

He received a 30-game suspension to start the season after an incident in which he allegedly choked his girlfriend and fired eight shots in the driveway of his Florida home — though prosecutors have decided not to prosecute and have cited conflicting reports and insufficient evidence.

If Chapman is healthy and able to pitch with consistent control, he potentially bolsters a bullpen that has leaned heavily on Scott Barlow in recent seasons.

In 2022, Barlow made a team-high 69 appearances, and also led club relievers in wins (seven), innings pitched (74 1/3), ERA (2.18), strikeouts (77), batters faced ( 290) and defenses (24). He was the only reliever in the major leagues with at least 70 innings, 20 saves and 5 wins. He recorded nine saves of four strikeouts or more, most in the majors.

If Chapman remains a game-closing option, it also reinforces the overall depth of a relief unit that includes right-handers Taylor Clarke, Dylan Coleman, Jose Cuas, Carlos Hernandez, Collin Snider, Josh Staumont and Barlow, as well as left-handers. couriers Amir Garrett, Richard Lovelady and Anthony Misiewicz.

Garrett and Chapman were teammates in the Cincinnati Reds organization, where they both began their major league careers.

Lefty Jake Brentz will continue his rehabilitation following early season elbow surgery. The Royals may also opt to convert starting pitchers who do not rotate into replacements.

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Lynn Worthy's profile picture

Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he has covered high school, collegiate, and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call, and The Salt Lake Tribune. He has won awards for sporting goods and sports columns.