"The Mariners have stepped up their pursuit of free agent Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman and are asking to meet with him and his agent, Edwin Mejia,, in the coming week, according to a source.No surprise there. The Mariners have to be looking for a starting pitching this offseason and Chapman might be the best long term investment on the market. But here comes the real important question: can the Mariners compete for the Yankees and Red Sox for Chapman's services?
There are no details yet on a date or location of a potential meeting by Chapman with Seattle officials. Chapman is being pursued by numerous teams, the Yankees and Red Sox most fervently, according to reports. The Yankees hosted him for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, while Chapman is scheduled to throw a bullpen session today at Fenway Park."
The logical answer is no. Both of those teams have superior payrolls and should be able to trump any offer the Mariners make for Chapman. That is of course, if the Yankees or Red Sox actually want Chapman.
But there is a good reason not to count out the Mariners in the Chapman bidding: payroll flexibility. The Mariners are only committed to $40 million+ in player salaries next season (before arbitration), so they could conceivably have $40-$50 million to spend if they are going to approach their 2009 payroll of $98 million.
Granted the Mariners have lots of holes to fill this offseason and need to seriously consider giving Felix Hernandez an extension, but Chapman might be a good risk for them to take if the price is right. The Mariners have a good history of success with international players (Ichiro, Kaz Sasaki, Kenji Johjima), but obviously Chapman is a different story since he is coming from Cuba. We'll see if the Mariners international success is a selling point for Chapman.
Then again, I'm not sure how interested the Mariners are in committing a boatload of payroll into a starting pitcher after the Carlos Silva debacle...
Is it worth it for the Mariners to go after Chapman? What type of contract would be acceptable for the Mariners?
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