Chat with Jorge Arangure Jr.
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN The Magazine MLB writer Jorge Arangure Jr. will stop by to take your baseball questions. He recently wrote about Cuban pitching phenom Aroldis Chapman.
Arangure is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. He joined ESPN in May 2007 after spending three years as a baseball writer for The Washington Post. Previously, he covered baseball for The Bergen Record, in Hackensack, N.J. Arangure has a B.A. in history from the University of Southern California and a M.A. in journalism from Syracuse University. You can contact him at
Send your questions now and join Arangure Monday at noon ET!
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:02 PM)
Thanks for stopping by everyone. We're here to talk about Aroldis Chapman or any other baseball topic. So please feel free to ask about the majors, minors or the Latin American player market. Let's get started.
What was the team this weekend did the best for themselves, as in playoff races?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:04 PM)
Sam the obvious answer is the Yankees. Their four-game sweep of the Red Sox clearly shows New York is playing better than any other team in the majors. A team that also helped themselves were the Braves, who went into Los Angeles and swept the Dodgers. Should the Phillies falter, the Braves have the pitching to compete in the division and may soon be getting back Tim Hudson.
Hey Jorge, What are your thoughts on Aroldis Champman's potential thanks
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:08 PM)
Logan, Chapman's potential is immense. He throws 102 mph, and has the athleticism for people to believe that his secondary pitches will get better. That being said, he's far from a finished product and it would not be surprising if a team wanted the Cuban to start his career in the minors. Or perhaps if Chapman is reluctant to start in the minors, then perhaps he could begin his MLB career in the bullpen and then slowly work his way into the rotation, ala Joba Chamberlain.
Jeff O. (Philadelphia)
Hey Jorge, Thanks for taking questions. Its been a while since any international signings were reported. I heard the Phillies were in on OF Luis Jolly and C Dionicio Ramirez. Any word on what the progress is with those 2 players?ThanksJeff O
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:11 PM)
Hey Jeff. Haven't heard much about Ramirez. Jolly is an interesting case. I saw him in January and my impression was that the kid was athletic but was still very raw in regards to his baseball skills. Since then Jolly, unhappy with the offers he had received, fired agent Rob Plummer. The Phillies had made an offer that Jolly and his family didn't like. All along Jolly wanted the Dodgers to make a stronger push to sign him. That hasn't happened. Teams are simply waiting for Jolly's asking price to come down since they see him as a project.
SprungOnSports (Long Island)
What kind of maturity level does Chapman have on and off the field? Great job on the story.
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:13 PM)
Thanks. I think we all need to remember that Aroldis is a 21-year-old kid. His maturity level is akin to any other person of that age. He likes video games, electronics, etc. That doesn't make him much different than any other person that age in the United States. I genuinely believe Aroldis is a good kid, but so much temptation is coming his way that he's going to have to really fight from getting sucked into all the distractions.
And after Chapman who might be next to come out of Cuba? Are their any particular players MLB scouts are hoping to see make the jump?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:16 PM)
Hey Adrian. Scouts were mixed as to the Cuban team that participated in the World Baseball Classic. Of course scouts love Yulieski Gourriel, but it's unlikely that he'll defect since his father is a former player and is involved in the Cuban baseball federation. You should check out this story I wrote from the WBC that had scouts' opinions on several players. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/worldclassic2009/news/story?id=3981731
will Yadel Marti throw again for teams? Are the Yankees In?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:19 PM)
For those unfamiliar with Yadel Marti, here is a link: http://insider.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=4378576
How long will it take Chapman to become a FA? Who could sign him?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:23 PM)
Gurinder, according to the Chapman's agent, Chapman is very close to establishing residency in a country (we believe it will be Spain for obvious reasons). Once he does that then he can formally apply for his free agency. I'd say it's a safe bet that Chapman will become a free agent sometime this fall. And it will be interesting to see how the free agency market in general is affected if Chapman becomes a free agent in October, basically giving him almost a month head start on players such as John Lackey, Erik Bedard, etc., who can only officially become free agents weeks after the world series.
Who do you think Chapman is most comparable to of any major league pitcher? And is he major league ready?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:25 PM)
Liam, i had a scout compare Chapman to Randy Johnson, in terms of development. Chapman and Johnson don't necessarily throw the same pitches (Chapman throws a curveball, change up, while Johnson was more of a fastball and slider pitcher), but both have struggled with a lack of command early in their careers. The key for Chapman will not only be control of his fastball, but the development of his secondary pitches. If he's unable to throw anything other than variations of a fastball then he might end up being an expensive reliever.
Any update on Sano?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:29 PM)
Ok I'll bite. We'll begin the Miguel Angel Sano portion of the chat. The latest is that his agent Rob Plummer continues to hunt for a better deal since he's been unimpressed with the offers he's received so far. Of note is that this weekend, according to one major league source, the Los Angeles Angels had one of their major league scouts take a look at Sano. This is interesting on several fronts: 1. Since the firing of their head international scout Clay Daniels, the Angels have laid low on the international market this summer. 2. The Angels have the resources to be aggressive if they truly like Sano.
Jay (Raleigh, NC)
Any idea what the Pirates offer was money-wise? Was it so low that Plummer just brushed it aside?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:32 PM)
Jay, from what I understand the Pirates offer for Sano did not reach $2.5 million. Of course that was far below what agent Rob Plummer expects for his client. That being said, no other team has stepped up and countered the Pirates offer. So although Plummer thinks his client is worth more, the market may not dictate that he is worth much more than the Pirates have offered.
So do you truly believe Chapman is 21? Can't blame someone for thinking that he may not be...
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:34 PM)
Kevin, it's not only you who is curious about Chapman's age. But i can honestly say that i have little doubt that he's 21 years old. I held Chapman's passport in my hands and took a very close look. It's legit. You can read more about Chapman's passport in the story on Chapman in this week's issue of ESPN the Magazine. The story in the magazine deals with Chapman as a player. In the Outside the Lines piece and the piece on espn.com we took a look at Chapman as a person.
Hey Jorge, Strasburg, Chapman or Darvish if you could pick only one?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:38 PM)
Great question Matt. Because of his experience, his polish and his talent, i'd have to say that i'd pick Strasburg. Let's not forget that Strasburg has not only proven himself on the college level but also on the international level with his impressive performance at the Olympics. He was the only collegiate player on team USA last summer.
Big fan from your days at the Post and your chats with Svrluga (and to be clear, I was there mostly to read Svrluga). Is it worth signing Strasburg at over $15 million instead of taking the best batter with next years comp pick?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:40 PM)
Hey Colin. I think the Nats HAVE to sign Strasburg. You can't go two consecutive years without signing your top pick. Strasburg is a unique talent, the type you build your franchise around. And let's not forget that the top hitter next year, Bryce Harper, is also represented by Boras. So I wouldn't be prepared for a discount. Btw, who is Svrluga?
Let's hope that the Reds don't get Chapman. We don't need Dusty destroying yet another promising young arm.
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:40 PM)
Nicely done Henry. I think it's a safe bet that Chapman isn't signing with the Reds.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Jorge, I'm only 25 years old, but a huge fan of Luis Tiant. He was AWESOME in the booth last night with Jon, Joe and Steve, Have you ever interviewed or had any interaction with him?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:44 PM)
Hey Craig. Tiant is a terrific person. I met him earlier this year when i attended the premiere of his documentary "The Lost Son of Havana" (which by the way airs tonight at 10 pm) at the Tribeca Film Festival. The movie was phenomenal and I highly recommend it. What touched me was how Luis cried after seeing the movie at the premiere even though he had seen it several times. It still affected him to see how powerful it was for him to return to Cuba for the first time in 40 years. Luis told me he participated in the project because he wanted people to see what Latinos had to go through in order to play in the Major Leagues.
Scott (Dickeyville, WI)
So who is currently financially supporting Chapman? His agent? Doesn't sound like he'd have that kind of money without any MLB players. Plus supporting one of his friends and his friend's dad?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:46 PM)
Hey Scott. Right now Chapman is being supported by Athletes Premier International, the company founded by his agent Edwin Mejia. The agency has several investors. I don't think anybody involved with the agency thinks their investment won't pay off since Aroldis is likely to get a contract in the $50 million range.
How much extra suspicion does a player from Latin America receive in terms of age verification and steroids? And is this fair in your opinion?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:49 PM)
There's no question that players from Latin America receive more scrutiny. The question as to whether it's fair is complicated. On one hand, teams have to be wary since players from Latin America have cheated in regards to age and PEDs. But then again, MLB is also to blame because they've basically created an environment where this happens. If MLB was more diligent in preventative measures instead of focusing simply on punitive measures then perhaps such scrutiny wouldn't be as necessary.
so how much will it take to sign chapman?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:51 PM)
Now that's the question on everyone's mind. His agent Edwin Mejia says that Chapman should get a contract that mirrors Daisuke Matsuzaka's deal with the Red Sox (and yes he means the total $100 odd million that included the posting fee). I think it's more realistic to expect Chapman to sign somewhere in the $40-$50 million range. He will get more than Contreras but less than Dice K is my guess.
Can someone legitimately question Chapman's experience without weighing his time in Cuba? Also, he at 19 was the best pitcher in the international tournament he participated in taiwan 2007. He also went 11-4 after the WBC in Cuba. His last start in the Cuban playoffs he was throwing 97 in the 8th inning and only gave up 2 runs. Nobody can truly judge his talent at this point....and to have dealt with the pressures he has and performed is amazing......I believe he will be a star
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:52 PM)
Miguel that's also part of Chapman's argument. He says that if people and, most importantly, teams track his progress and his career, they'll see his experience matches with his age. And let's not forget that Cuba has no reason to lie about a player's age.
cole nicholson (millis ma)
hi jorge after a for game sweep do you think its time to panic in redsox nation
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:54 PM)
Hi Cole. There's no need for Boston to panic. Despite a rough weekend and despite playing some bad baseball since the break, they are still leading the wild card. At some point, they'll get Wakefield back and their offense will start to hit. I still believe they'll get into the playoffs and once they do, teams will still have to be wary of facing them with playoff studs Beckett and Lester in the rotation.
I can't think of the agent's name offhand, but Mejia is a different agent than the individual that represents Contreras,Alexei
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:55 PM)
Jason you're right. Jaime Torres represents Contreras and Alexei Ramirez.
Mark (Madison, WI)
I've read reports that say Chapman can hit 102 on his best days, but on several occasions his velocity is way down. Any concern that a transition to a 5-man rotation may hurt his ability to consistently bring the heat ... ala Dice-K's struggles?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (12:58 PM)
Mark, I don't think any reasonable baseball man believes that Chapman will pitch consistently in the 102 mph range. Mostly likely Chapman will throw in the mid 90s and he'll occasionally get up to triple digits. The 102 mph is simply a benchmark to measure his fastball. Every scout i've talked to has no doubts about Chapman's fastball. It's the other pitches they worry about. There's no telling how pitching every five days will affect him. But at the same time, we don't know how pitching every five days will affect Strasburg either since he's never done it either.
Scott (Dickeyville, WI)
Sounds like it was way too easy for Chapman to defect, is there any talk of conspiracy? Not sure how it would work, but it seems like it was way too easy.
Jorge Arangure Jr. (1:01 PM)
Scott, there is undoubtedly still a cloud of mystery that remains about Chapman's defection. There are some details that he couldn't give me simply because he didn't want to get anybody in trouble. For example I don't know who the friend was that picked him up at the hotel in Rotterdam. Secondly, it's high unusual that the Cuban Federation allowed players to keep their passports. It never happens. Could there be a conspiracy? Of course. Is it possible that an official was paid off in order to let players keep their passports. I suppose that's possible, but it would be almost impossible to prove.
Mark (Madison, WI)
Why is it that bonuses for international players have skyrocketed so much in the past few years? When the Braves signed Julio Teheran, he was considered the top international arm on the market, and at his age and with his stuff (high 90's fastball, potential plus offspeed stuff) Teheran still signed for a fraction of what Chapman is predicted to sign at .... so, what gives?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (1:04 PM)
Mark, I think you'll see that bonuses for amateur players gradually increase every year regardless of whether it's in the draft or in the international market. The value for young talented players has never been higher. Teams realize that signing Teheran for 750k might be a better investment than signing a backup middle infielder for $2-$3 million.
Do you ever see a time again where not only Cuban players, but Cuban citizens, will be able to go freely as they choose? People should not have to risk their lives in order to leave!
Jorge Arangure Jr. (1:06 PM)
I think we'll soon see a day where Cuban players will have more liberty to play in the majors. This is just a guess, but I think that's where we're headed. My guess is that we might soon see a posting system, not unlike the one we seen in Japan, where Cuban teams or the Cuban baseball federation gets a cut of some of these large bonuses. If Cuba and the US can buy and sell certain goods to each other, why couldn't they buy and sell baseball players?
The White Sox have had success with Cuban players, any chance they could be in the running for Chapman or is he out of their price range?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (1:08 PM)
Rob, I didn't get the sense that the White Sox are going to be big players for Chapman. Let's remember that they just took on a huge contract in the trade for Jake Peavy. To me that pretty much puts them out of the running.
where will Mr Chapman wind up?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (1:10 PM)
Steiny, my guess is that he ends up signing with the Yankees. I know this is not a surprise, but they are the front runner at this point in my opinion. Obviously they have the resources. And let's not forget that Chapman's agent is based out of New York. And Mejia could provide that support that Chapman needs in order to adjust to life in the United States.
Chris (Tempe, Ariz.)
Do it you think Chapman's age and now having all this freedom is a concern for prospective teams? I found it interesting that he spent his four days of freedom partying in Amsterdam.
Jorge Arangure Jr. (1:12 PM)
I think it's somewhat of a concern but it shouldn't be a deciding factor. But can you really blame Chapman for partying? If you were in his situation wouldn't you be happy to be free? Also, would we ask the same question of a college player partying for several days after he recently graduated or recently got drafted?
Kyle (Cape Cod)
When do you think Chapman will be declared a free agent? Will he be ready in time for a winter league or spring training?
Jorge Arangure Jr. (1:13 PM)
Kyle, like I mentioned previously I expect Chapman to become a free agent in the fall. His agent said Chapman won't pitch in the winter leagues this year, so it's safe to assume that we'll all first see him pitch next year during spring training.
Jorge Arangure Jr. (1:17 PM)
Alright everyone, thanks for showing up for the chat. Please feel free to drop me a note at email@example.com or follow me on twitter @jorgearangure where I update pretty frequently. If you missed the TV piece on Chapman it will re-air today at 3 pm on Outside the Lines First report. Also check out the online piece and also the piece in this week's issue of ESPN the Magazine where we examine Chapman the player. Thanks!