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).