The Cincinnati Reds made another move to further solidify what they hope will be an extremely good bullpen on Friday, by coming to terms with closer Aroldis Chapman on a on-year $8.05 million dollar contract.
The contract will allow the NL Central squad to avoid arbitration with their heralded reliever who has taken the league by storm since defecting from his native Cuba in late 2009. Chapman, 26, is a three-time All Star with arguably the best fastball in the major league baseball, has excelled in his closers role.
He currently holds the record of consecutive relief appearances with a strikeout, a mark he set at 49 on August 13, 2014 against the Boston Red Sox. In 2014, he set a new standard for fastball consistency, throwing an astonishing 358 fastball 100+ mph, seven times more than any other pitcher.
In parts of 5 season, Chapman has amassed 113 saves and 430 strike-outs in 252 2/3 innings, which equates to just over 15 strikes outs per nine innings. To put those numbers into perspective, the career leader in that category, Randy Johnson, wrapped his career with a mark of 10.6 strike out per nine innings.
Another 30+ save season could catapult Chapman into the Top 80 closers of all-time.
The Cuban born flame thrower should be the lynch pin in a much improved Red’s bullpen that could include recent veteran signees Paul Maholm, Jason Marquis, and Anthony DeSclafani, who came over in the trade that sent Matt Latos to Miami. The new look Reds will be tested early as their first 22 games come against NL Central opponents, including nine against 2014 playoff teams.