Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Chapman to talk with GMs in N.Y.
By Jorge Arangure Jr.
ESPN The Magazine
Prized Cuban left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman will arrive in New York on Wednesday to begin a series of meetings with several general managers, Chapman's agent, Edwin Mejia, confirmed.
The 21-year-old will visit several cities, Mejia said, but the agent would not confirm a specific itinerary. It is expected he will visit with officials from the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, among others.
"Aroldis is very excited to be coming to the States and plans to spend some time in the cities of the teams interested in him, exploring the sights and meeting the fans in addition to the team representatives," Mejia wrote in an e-mail.
Chapman, who is considered by some to be the best Latin amateur to ever enter the free-agent market, is expected to command a contract anywhere from $40 million to $60 million.
Sources close to the situation indicate that other teams thought to have interest in Chapman -- including the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels -- have yet to seriously inquire about the pitcher.
A front office executive from one MLB club indicated the Dodgers aren't likely to be serious suitors for Chapman. Other teams that have yet to show formal interest in Chapman -- such as the Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants -- are now beginning to pay varying degrees of attention to the free agent.
Teams that meet with Chapman on this trip will likely ask to view Chapman's passport and other documentation to verify his age and identity. MLB's memo to teams when it announced that Chapman had been awarded free agency this summer included this passage:
"Please be advised that the Commissioner's Office has not yet verified the age or identity of this player, or any other matter in that respect beyond his current status as a resident of Andorra. Each club should follow its own practices in verifying such information as it sees fit."
Confirming Chapman's age or identity isn't likely to be a big issue, however, because the Cuban lefty has his original Cuban documentation. Chapman's passport appears to be legitimate, featuring stamps from several of the player's trips while he was a member of the Cuban national team. The stamps include one from the U.S. State Department for Chapman's visit to San Diego for the World Baseball Classic last spring.
Chapman's tour of the United States represents a reversal of sorts for the Cuban's management. Earlier this year, in an interview in Barcelona with La Esquina, Mejia said that teams would have to visit Chapman in Europe if they wanted to talk face to face.
Since then, several teams have expressed hesitation about the logistics of a trip to Europe [where Chapman established residency in Andorra] and the idea of offering him a large contract without seeing him in person.
Jorge Arangure Jr. is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.