Royals, Padres Among Teams Interested In Aroldis Chapman


Both the Royals and Padres have some level of interest free-agent lefty Aroldis Chapman, tweets Mark Feinsand of This comes just one day after the Marlins were also reported to have interest in the former Yankees, Cubs and Reds closer.

The 2022 season was a rough one for Chapman, who’ll turn 35 next month. The lefty’s fastball, which once averaged better than 101 mph, dropped to a 97.5 mph average in 2022. Simultaneously, his command troubles spike to their worst levels since back in 2011. Chapman’s 26.9% strikeout rate in 2022 was better than league-average but still a career-low by a wide margin, and he walked a massive 17.5% of his opponents, which is the second-worst mark of his career.

Chapman’s 4.46 ERA was passable but nevertheless the highest of his career, and he missed six weeks of the season with an Achilles injury in addition to a roughly three-week absence owing to a leg infection related to a recent tattoo he’d received. He was also left off the Yankees’ postseason roster after skipping a team workout

Kansas City has taken its share of low-cost gambles on former high-profile closers in recent years, inking Trevor Rosenthal prior to the 2020 season and also bringing former K.C. stars Wade Davis and Greg Holland back for buy-low reunion tours. Chapman would be a page out of a similar playbook.

With just an $85MM projected payroll (via Roster Resource) and plenty of uncertainty behind closer Scott Barlow, the Royals represent a sensible enough on-paper fit. They already have three potential southpaws for the ’pen, with Amir Garrett, Anthony Misiewicz and Richard Lovelady on hand, but Misiewicz does have a pair of minor league option years remaining. And, if Chapman were able to bounce back into form, he could potentially be someone they look to flip to another club as the trade deadline draws nearer.

As for the Padres, nary a free agent with any name value passes by without being connected to them. The Friars already have a deep bullpen, headlined by Josh Hader, Robert Suarez, Luis Garcia and a hopefully healthy Drew Pomeranz, but Chapman would add another big arm to the mix. Ownership and president of baseball operations A.J. Preller have shown a clear affinity for high-profile stars in recent years, even if some of those name-brand players have been past their peak production.

Then again, they’re also already sitting on a $251MM payroll, and Chapman could push them into the third tier of luxury penalization, given the projected $270.6MM currently on their luxury ledger. In terms of monetary penalization, the jump from adding Chapman likely wouldn’t be large. The Padres would pay a 42% tax on every dollar up to $273MM in luxury obligations, and that number would jump to 75% thereafter. However, presuming Chapman won’t command much more than a few million dollars on a one-year rebound deal, that sum won’t be particularly burdensome.

That said, there’s a greater cost to consider if the Padres want to continue spending in free agency. Exceeding the luxury tax threshold by more than $40MM also results in a team’s top pick in the subsequent year’s draft pushed back by 10 places. Tacking on even a $3MM salary for Chapman would come with something like $4MM in costs between his salary and luxury tax penalties, but would more importantly drop the Padres out of the top 30 in the 2024 draft while also reducing the size of their bonus pool. Further trades, of course, could always alter that calculus, but the Padres were recently reported to be approaching a “self-prescribed” spending limit. It wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the point at which payroll begins to detrimentally impact future drafts is indeed that limit.

While much of the free-agent market moved at an accelerated pace this offseason, the market for left-handed relievers has been curiously slow. Taylor Rogers took until late December to land his three-year deal with the Giants, and Chapman joins the likes of Andrew Chafin, Matt Moore, Will Smith, Brad Hand and Zack Britton as a southpaw reliever of note that has yet to sign a team for the 2023 season.

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