Mets Do Not Sign Aroldis Chapman

Highly touted lefthanded flamethrower Aroldis Chapman has signed with the Cincinnati Reds for $30M over 5 years.

The 21-year-old Cuban defector had been likened to #1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg in terms of age, skill set, and peak potential, and wound up receiving double the money Strasburg received. Strasburg, of course, did not have the benefit of negotiating a deal from all 30 teams.

The Mets were never much of a factor in the Chapman bidding. Like fellow countryman Noel Arguelles, I’m not sure the pressure-cooker environment of New York City would be the best place for a very young defector to begin his pitching career and life in the United States.

Does that mean the Mets can never sign a talented young ballplayer? Of course not, but right now, an athlete with Chapman’s skills would immediately be tabbed as some kind of a savior to a struggling, high profile franchise such as the Mets. There are few young men who can handle that kind of pressure from the fans and media while also adjusting to life in the USA. Look no further than the expectations hoisted upon the shoulders of 20-year-old Fernando Martinez to get an idea of what someone like Chapman or Arguelles would have to endure. Then, remember that F-Mart has been in the organization for a few years, and had the opportunity to adjust to pro ball and the US while the Mets were doing well — i.e., no one was in a rush to get Martinez to the bigs as long as the team was winning with Beltran, Delgado, Wright, Reyes, etc. in place. Today, though, the Mets are coming off their worst record in a half-decade, have little in the way of prospects, and are desperate for quality pitching. There would be pressure not only a young stud like Chapman or Arguelles to do well, but there would also be pressure on the Mets front office — specifically Omar Minaya — to rush him up to the big leagues (see: Pelfrey, Mike).

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Harry Chiti January 10, 2010 at 6:48 pm
    The guy defected from Cuba. The guy left behind friends and family and has to worry about what might happen to them as retribution for defecting. I gues people think all that’s nothing compared to a press barage. Comparing any cuban defector to FMART is off base. These Cubans have dealth woth more than any of us probably have or ever will. Maybe Omar couldn’t handle the pressure, but a Cuban defector? Its all gravy now. Maybe even enough $$ to bribe Cuban authroities to help those left behind.
  2. joejanish January 10, 2010 at 7:51 pm
    Harry, not really sure what your argument is. You’re saying Chapman can handle a “press barrage” because it’s easier than leaving friends and family behind?

    Maybe I didn’t make clear my argument. The fact that Chapman already has the weight of his defection on his mind makes ANYTHING he has to do that much more difficult. So, pile on learning a new language. Pile on a new country, where you may not have any trustworthy friends close to you at the outset. Pile on a new job, including new people who have new expectations and processes thrust upon you. Pile on the responsibility that goes with a multimillion-dollar contract. Pretty high pile so far, and we didn’t get into the factor of the big stage yet.

    You may be right — playing a game or dealing with media is a heckuva lot easier than leaving Cuba. But, you are separating the two as if they were different rooms on the opposite sides of a building. Just because Chapman is out of Cuba does not mean thinking about, or dealing with, his defection is over. He still has family and friends back there, does he not? He still will be thinking about them and their safety, won’t he?

    Perhaps baseball will be his “release”, where he doesn’t have to think about all that. But what if his focus is split when he’s on the field? What if he already has enough on his mind, and the added weight of constant media attention proved too much for him to handle?

    But that was only half of my argument. Even if he wasn’t from Cuba, I’d think that someone with his skills would be rushed to MLB by a GM and manager who are fighting for their jobs — which was why I brought up Pelfrey, who has yet to fulfill his potential after being forced to the parent club before he developed consistent command and an off-speed pitch.

  3. Pedro January 10, 2010 at 10:21 pm
    As Rey Ordonez once said “I didn’t come to America to just play baseball. I came to America to have a life.” I wish the kid well.
  4. Harry Chiti January 11, 2010 at 9:30 am
    The weight of what he’s gone through makes the “pressures” of NYC nothing to worry about for him. I don’t care about the Mets signing him or not, but using the pressure of NY is just a bogus reason. Anybody who did what these Cuban athletes do, won’t be bothered by the big apple. That’s all. weary moochers
  5. isuzudude January 11, 2010 at 9:46 am
    Harry: unless you have personally gone through the trials and tribulations of defecting from a country, or relocating to a foreign land, yourself, then you can’t matter-of-factly state that “the “pressures” of NYC are nothing to worry about for him.” What insider information do you have, or first hand knowledge of Chapman’s feelings, to assert so surely that the pressures of the most demanding city on Earth will have no impact on Chapman’s ego, personality, workmanship, or confidence? I realize the defecting process is a major ordeal, and that many things pale in comparison, but regardless of how he was able to gain access to our country, anybody who steps foot in NYC for the first time and is being tabbed as the future savior of a franchise is going to be a little overwhelmed. That’s the only point trying to be made, and it’s certainly not a “bogus” point of view. The only thing bogus here is your case-closed mentality about an issue you’ve never endured and have no personal knowledge of. What makes you the be-all, end-all decision maker?

    Case in point: Let’s say you are diagnosed with cancer, and spend months in chemo getting radiation treatment. Your hair falls out, you feel weak and nauseous constantly, and you lose 50 pounds. But you beat the cancer. 2 years later you are then diagnosed with diabetes. Well, you may say that nothing is scarier to deal with than cancer, and so being diagnosed with diabetes is no sweat. But that’s a ridiculous arguement, because diabetes impacts your life on many levels and is just as life-threatening as cancer if not properly taken care of. The same thing applies to Chapman’s ordeal. Yes, defecting is a very traumatic undertaking, but that doesn’t mean that he is then prepared to successfully handle every other difficult aspect in life without batting an eye. The two are not connected. Don’t be so naive.