Agent: Cuba's Chapman considering Mets, Yankees
Pitcher at home in New York
By TIM BONTEMPS
Last Updated: 4:34 PM, November 5, 2009
Posted: 11:03 AM, November 5, 2009
It’s been a wild few months for Aroldis Chapman.
The 21-year-old left-hander from Cuba defected in July while in the Netherlands for the World Port Tournament. He then established residency in the small European country of Andorra, clearing the way for Major League Baseball to declare him a free agent on September 25.
Now over a month into his time as a free agent, Chapman’s agent, Edwin Mejia, said there is no rush on their part to find Chapman a new employer.
“I don’t think we’re going to make any business any time soon,” Mejia told the Post. “Chapman has been throwing all over the world, so we’re trying to get him settled down a little bit.
“But the bottom line is that we have time. He’s definitely the top young free agent pitcher on the market, and teams are interested. You need to let teams figure out what they need to, and then, when the time is right, a deal will get done.”
Two teams that have been ever-present in rumors about being interested in Chapman, whose fastball has been near 100 miles per hour, are the Mets and Yankees. Mejia said that he and Chapman have met with both organizations, and will continue to remain in contact with both of them. With his agency, Athletes Premier International, based in New York, Mejia said Chapman has gotten used to being in the city, and that it could work out well for all involved if he was able to stay here.
“He likes New York,” Mejia said. “We’re here now, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing if he decided to stay here.”
Along with the Mets and Yankees, Mejia said that he and Chapman has met with the Red Sox and Orioles, and said he has meetings scheduled with several other teams. Given his combination of talent and age, not to mention his being left-handed, Chapman could arguably be the second-most sought-after free agent pitcher on the market, behind Angels ace John Lackey.
“As I said awhile back, it’s pretty much whatever team wants him the most,” Mejia said. “Whatever team has the same vision as we do, as far as his talent, potential and a city that’s comfortable for him.
“It’s easy for him for understand New York, because we’re here, but I’ve gone to great lengths to explain things about the different market that are interested. At this point, it’s the likelihood of success, things like that.”
The most similar case to the one that Chapman currently finds himself in was when Jose Contreras became a free agent after defecting in the winter of 2002. That led to a protracted battle between the Red Sox and Yankees for his services, with the Yankees eventually signing him to a four-year, $32 million dollar contract.
Given that Contreras was nearly 10 years older when he came to The Bronx than Chapman currently is, that contract has been bandied about as a baseline for Chapman’s negotiations – a notion Mejia didn’t dismiss.
“Common sense would dictate that,” he said of using Contreras’ contract. “I don’t think I need to say it for people to read it that way. I have told teams directly what we want, but I’m not going to say it in the press, and that’s the way I want to keep it.
“To me, it’s between the player and the club, and that’s the way it should be.”
With the Yankees clinching the 27th world championship last night, officially beginning baseball’s offseason, the chase for Chapman will likely become one of the bigger storylines of this year’s free agency. But while Mejia wasn’t ready to put any kind of timeline on the process, he cautioned teams not to wait too long, or else they might miss a chance to sign his client.
“It depends,” he said on how long Chapman will be on the market. “We’re getting offers already. If teams don’t get on the ball, there’s teams that want him, and may not let them get the chance.
“He’s a hot commodity.”