May 23, 2024

On January 20, Pittsburgh Pirates owner Bob Nutting expressed his expectations for a competitive 2024 season, aiming for contention throughout the year. Just two days later, the team took a significant step in realizing this goal by signing seven-time All-Star Aroldis Chapman to a one-year contract worth $10.5 million, as reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Source: Pirates sign 35-year-old reliever Aroldis Chapman | TribLIVE.com

This move marks Chapman’s sixth team in his MLB career, having previously played for the Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, and Texas Rangers since his debut in 2010. The left-handed pitcher, aged 35, signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract with the Royals last offseason but was traded to the Rangers on June 30, 2023. In the 2023 season, Chapman achieved a 6-5 record with a 3.09 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 58.1 innings, contributing to the Rangers’ historic World Series win.

Despite entering his 14th MLB season, Chapman’s fastball still boasts an impressive average speed of 99.5 mph (99th percentile). However, his walk rate has exceeded 14.5 percent in the past three seasons. The Pirates are likely to utilize Chapman as a dependable high-leverage arm in their bullpen, joining forces with two-time All-Star closer David Bednar.

Chapman’s one-year, $10.5 million deal with the Pirates was agreed upon on January 22, pending a physical examination before becoming official.

As part of their push for contention, the Pirates have been active in the offseason, adding players like Marco Gonzales, Rowdy Tellez, Martín Pérez, and Andrew McCutchen through trades or free agent signings. However, the team acknowledges the need for further improvements to reach playoff contention in 2024.

The 2023 season saw the Pirates finish fourth in the NL Central with a 76-86 record, marking their fifth consecutive losing season. The bullpen struggled, posting a 4.27 ERA, ranking 19th in MLB. Chapman’s addition is expected to bolster the bullpen, alongside Pérez if he returns to his 2022 form. The team still faces challenges, especially in securing an ace starter, after missing out on free agents Sean Manaea and Yariel Rodriguez earlier in the offseason. Nutting acknowledges the competitive landscape, stating that creative efforts are required to enhance the team’s competitiveness against 29 other well-resourced and talented teams.

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