The Royals made a big free agency move, but not exactly big for... good reasons. You see, 7 or 8 years ago this would have been a marquee signing, a HUGE signing for the Royals, but that was 7 or 8 years ago. Today, after everything that has happened with the player in question, this signing isn't exactly the best thing the Royals could have done with their money. Yes, they're a small market team with no boo coo bucks like the Yankees, but if the Twins can sign the likes of Carlos Correa, why can't the Royals do so? Why would they invest in a guy with such a controversial past? Let's go into why, shall we, or rather, why they shouldn't have touched him and with this signing, continue an infamous Royals tradition?
The player in question, is former Cubs and Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman. The Royals signed Chapman to a 1-year, $3.75 million contract. If you don't keep up with baseball, then you may be asking yourself "What's so wrong about that?" Well...a few things actually. The major problem is the fact that Chapman is an alleged domestic abuser. In March 2016, Chapman was accused of domestic violence involving a firearm against his girlfriend at the time. He was never charged. They claim his girlfriend and witnesses were uncooperative and they had conflicting stories, or so they said. More than likely, it was because he was a rich athlete, like we have seen time and again. He fired 8 shots into the garage where his girlfriend was, that is for certain, but what has fuzzy evidence were the accusations of choking and hitting her. That is what got him off, because there was no evidence of physical harm and the conflicting stories. Chapman has since said he exercised "bad judgement" in using the gun but has reiterated he never hit his girlfriend (usatoday.com). Mind you intimidation is a key factor in domestic violence cases, and intimidation this was. He thinks he never did any harm, and that is what bothers me the most about this situation, because he absolutely did. He AT LEAST caused psychological harm. In the age of believing domestic violence survivors, this was a failure on the part of Davie prosecutors and police. Unfortunately, it is nothing new when it comes to domestic violence cases. He did face a 30-game suspension by the MLB, so you know, the MLB having a better disciplinary system than the US justice system is certainly a thing in this case. "That was 7 years ago though, Burn, you have to forgive and forget!" No, and it's for the reasons above that I do not. The man got off basically scot-free. Domestic violence should be taken seriously, and when things like this happen and the justice system fails, it further reiterates a toxic and deadly narrative that domestic violence is not worth reporting. A sad reality that we continue to live.
Secondly, and an issue of much less importance, is the fact that Chapman stinks now on the field too. He's completely washed. Since 2016, he has averaged a 2.9 ERA, given up 27 home runs, 136 total runs in, and walked 181 batters all over 319.6 innings pitched. Normally this isn't a bad stat line, but as a pitcher that is supposed to be a marquee closer where you're pitching about an inning or two a game, an ERA on the year above 2 isn't great, and you're supposed to limit walks and home runs. It really depends on the team you're on and strategy, but overall, a good closer keeps his yearly ERA below 1.5, with career average fluctuating between 2 and 3 respectively due to surrounding circumstances, same with walks, but runs need to be limited. These are some pretty not great stats, all things considered. These stats have only gotten worse as the years have gone on, recording a 4.46 ERA, 24 hits, 18 runs, 4 home runs, and 28 walks on 36.1 innings pitched this past year. A slight improvement over a VERY not great 2021, but he also pitched 20 less innings. This is bad even for Royals standards. He also recorded a -0.2 WAR (Wins Above Replacement, total contributions to the team in layman's terms, anything negative means they had a negative contribution) this past year, which is also pretty bad. (baseball-reference.com)
He's past his prime, which seems to be a trend for the Royals and picking up players. A dangerous one that continues to keep the Royals down. They're the Internet Explorer of picking up stars, comically slow to the punch and by the time they get there the guy's washed up. It was never about money; it was about timing and cheapness. The last "big name" they signed that wasn't Zach Greinke? Kendrys Morales 8 years ago, and while it worked out Morales played a minor role in the World Series run mainly ran by program guys such as Gordon, Moustakas, and Perez. If small market teams like the Twins and Mariners can get marquee players still in their prime such as Carlos Correa, then the Royals can too, and even if they couldn't, shouldn't that be a wake-up call to invest in your farm teams and grassroots development? To PAY those guys so that they stay here and become the next Gordon, Perez, and Moustakas? What is the problem???There is ZERO excuse. If they expect to revitalize Chapman's career, I believe they're delusional and the trend more than shows it, and the fact that he was signed to begin with leaves an incredibly bad taste in my mouth as a Royals fan knowing that this tradition that has been around for DECADES now continues. Small market is no longer an excuse, it's a problem yes, but not an excuse. The Royals have to shake this demon, otherwise they will never go back to the World Series and they will never gain back the love and adoration of the KC fanbase, especially with having so many good sports teams in the city. They are the weakest link right now and will continue to be until this problem and the others that I have mentioned in previous articles are rectified.
In the end, this is not a good look for this new front office. I had high hopes that they would at the very least invest in the grassroots and in the farm teams, which has yet to be seen but there is still time for. I still have high hopes they can rectify the other situations such as the contract with Bally and building back the fanbase. In terms of the free agency market, my hopes plummeted when this signing happened, and it makes me worry about the other issues at hand. Same old Royals doing Royals things, only this time they brought in an alleged domestic abuser. This is a questionable move at best, downright boneheaded and completely ignorant at worst. Really looking good to bring back those fans I tell ya! (He said with obvious sarcasm) Do I hope it works out for the Royals sake? Of course, they're the team I have cheered for devotedly since I was born, but for Chapman's sake? Absolutely not, and I hate the fact that he is in a Royals uniform. I am sure the women and domestic violence survivors of the KC area agree. If the Royals expect to dig their way out of dumpster fire status, this is not the move to make, in the scope of PR or in the field of play.
Burn Notice: 10/10 Believe survivors.