The Seattle Mariners bullpen has had its ups and downs in 2023. While Paul Sewald and newcomer Justin Topa have been great, guys like Diego Castillo and Matt Brash have had their struggles. Castillo has even been demoted, while guys like Andres Munoz and Robbie Ray are out with injuries. With all of that being said, I will try and make the case for or against trading for LHP Aroldis Chapman.
The case FOR trading for Chapman
Aroldis Chapman has had a career resurgence of sorts in 2023. His ERA of 3.45 does not tell the full story. His FIP is 1.64, while his strikeout rate has gone way up from 2022 (14.4 in 2023 from 10.7 in 2022). His average fastball velocity is his highest since 2017, and is sitting at the 100th percentile in all of Major League Baseball, according to Baseball Savant.
Chapman signed with the Kansas City Royals in the offseason on a 1 year deal worth $3.75M. As of 5/17, The Royals are in last place in their division with a record of 14-31. Barring a historical comeback, they will be sellers come to the trade deadline. The cost of acquiring Chapman will be next to nothing. Adding a veteran power lefty to the backend of your bullpen would be a big upgrade. Imagine Paul Sewald, a healthy Andres Munoz, and Aroldis Chapman for the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings of a playoff push.
The case AGAINST trading for Chapman
Aroldis Chapman does come with some baggage. Back in 2015, Chapman was allegedly involved in a domestic violence incident where a gun was discharged 8 times. No charges were filed against him, but he was suspended 30 games by MLB. While he was never charged with a crime, trading for a player with this kind of baggage could be unpopular with the fans and teammates.
Chapman was limited to just 36.1 innings in 2022. The 35 year-old was on the injured list twice for the Yankees last season. He missed about a month with achillies tendonitius. He also missed about 3 weeks with an infected tattoo in August of last year. His walks per 9 innings were an astounding 6.9, but he has managed to cut that down to 4.6 this season.
I think the potential of the Mariners bullpen with Chapman would be even better than last year. The risk/reward is minimal because they could just opt to release him should things go south. To me, this is a win/win type of deal. If he succeeds, then great! if not, cut him and move on.