Aroldis Chapman says he wants to finish career with Cincinnati Reds

Reds GM Nick Krall has said he won’t rule anything out as the trade deadline approaches.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws during the ninth inning of a baseball...
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in St. Louis. The Reds won the game 1-0. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst)(Billy Hurst | AP)
Published: Jun. 12, 2023 at 10:55 PM EDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Enquirer) - Aroldis Chapman might be the only one in baseball who isn’t certain the Kansas City Royals are going to trade him this summer.

“I see there’s a lot people in the media and social media talking about it,” he said. “But I don’t know what’s going to happen in a couple weeks or months.”

The former Cincinnati Reds closer does seem sure of one thing, though:

If the upstart Reds want to bring him back to Cincinnati at the Aug. 1 trade deadline and create one of the most powerful back-end bullpen tandems in the game, he’s all in, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.

“I’ve played for 13, 14 years in the big leagues, and I don’t know how many more years I’ll play,” he said during a conversation with the Enquirer before Monday’s series opener at Kauffman Stadium. “It’d be awesome to play my last year or two years with my first team.”

Monday night he struck out all the Reds he faced, including Elly De La Cruz with a 99 mph fastball at the knees.

At least a few dominoes have to fall in the right direction for that possibility to even be in play at the deadline, not the least of which is the Reds playing well enough to gain more ground on the flawed front-runners in the soft National League Central.

There’s also the not-so-insignificant issue of the cost of bidding against other would-be buyers for a long-dominant left-hander with World Series pedigree and velocity that’s back in the triple digits after a few injury issues in recent seasons.

“I think we all know that Chapman is a guy that teams are going to be interested in,” Royals general manager J.J. Picollo told Kansas City reporters before Monday’s game. “They may start pushing sooner, but there is no need to push it along artificially. Just let it happen. He keeps doing what he’s doing, he is going to hold value, and we should get a nice return for him.”

Whether Reds GM Nick Krall wants to pay the price it might take by then, it would seem at least that he has time to let the Reds’ seven-week run of more competitive baseball

“We just have to figure out where we are,” Krall told the Enquirer last week. “It’s all about how we’re playing, what our guys are doing.

“I would not rule anything out at this point.”

Chapman, who earned four of his seven career All-Star selections during his six seasons with the Reds, is pitching as well this season as he has in at least four years after signing a one-year, $3.75 million deal to set up for Royals closer Scott Barlow.

His rediscovered velocity, 2.82 ERA and 15.3-strikeouts-per-nine (through Sunday) — especially from the left side — might make him the ideal fit in a Reds bullpen that already boasts the most reliable closer in the game so far this season, presumptive All-Star Alexis Diaz, who has converted 20 consecutive save chances dating to last season’s rookie year.

That’s the kind of back end of a bullpen that wins playoff games. Assuming said team is in the playoffs. And then assuming the starting pitching is good enough to have a lead late.

Chapman even has deployed an effective slide step since joining the Royals to deal with base runners in the first year of new step-off rules and pitch clocks.

Chapman, 35, won a World Series with the Chicago Cubs after a deadline trade in 2016 and has made 35 appearances in seven different postseasons overall, with a 2.40 ERA and 10 saves. That included a pair of postseasons with the Reds in 2010 and 2012 (one run allowed in 4 1/3 innings).

Seventeen of those appearances came with the Yankees from 2017 through 2020.

“I love it,” he said of the idea of getting back to October. “When you play in the big leagues you’re thinking all the time about playing in October, in the playoffs, in the World Series.”

To be able to experience that in a return to Cincinnati after winning the most celebrated World Series in history with the Cubs?

“That would be nice,” said Chapman, who added the Reds have a lot of exciting young players – even if he doesn’t know many of them.

“I know Joey,” he said of former teammate Joey Votto, who’s expected to return from shoulder surgery next week at home against the Colorado Rockies.

“He’s a good guy. He’s my man.”

Chapman also has been watching rookie sensation Elly De La Cruz, like everyone else, and remembers being impressed in spring training.

“He has power. He’s fast. He has everything,” Chapman said.

The idea of joining that exciting young team?

“I like that,” he said. “The Reds are playing very well now. I don’t know what will happen in a couple weeks or months. I’ll be someplace. I don’t know what city or what place.”

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