The Texas Rangers' journey to repeat as World Series champions has already been an up-and-down roller coaster. Pitching has been the main focus of the team this offseason and the question of whether to bring back Aroldis Chapman or not is looming large. The Rangers have lost and signed numerous pitchers over the past two weeks.
Texas signed 2019 All-Star Kirby Yates to a one-year contract two weeks ago. A week later, the Rangers signed right-handed pitcher Tyler Mahle to a two-year $22 million contract.
Other transactions included Texas losing two big-name pitchers from last season. Closer Will Smith was the first pitcher off the board. Last week, Smith signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Royals. The left-handed reliever led the team with 22 saves last season.
Another pitcher off the board this week was former All-Star Martin Perez. Texas' former starter/reliever signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates this week.
So, what might this mean for other free agent pitchers, especially Chapman?
Aroldis Chapman was better than many give him credit
Last season, Texas traded pitcher Cole Ragans and prospect Roni Cabrera for Chapman. At first, the trade seemed to work for Texas. During his first month with the team, Chapman pitched eight innings and recorded 14 strikeouts.
The following month, Chapman recorded five holds and one save. His status would continue to climb as he recorded two saves and one win in September. However, by the playoffs, Chapman's status began to drop. He struggled to gain command of his pitches as his playing time began to decrease.
One big issue was his ability to keep runners off base. In nine postseason games, Chapman had a 2.25 ERA while he allowed five walks. This is one thing that frustrated Rangers fans. At times, it felt like Chapman needed to load the bases to get an out or two.
Against the Baltimore Orioles, Chapman pitched 1 2/3 innings only giving up one hit but also walked four batters. Things improved against the Houston Astros but by a small margin. Against Houston, he threw 3 2/3 innings and allowed four hits and one homer.
In the World Series, Chapman pitched 1 2/3 innings and allowed two hits, and gave up one run against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Those aren't bad numbers, considering he pitched in two of the four wins for Texas.
Texas Rangers should resign Aroldis Chapman
Yet, while most teams would stray away from Chapman because of his walk ratio in the playoffs, Texas shouldn't. You see, there are plenty of bright spots in resigning Chapman. For starters, Chapman has a mean fastball. He demonstrated that last season when he broke the Rangers' record for fastest pitch.
In 30 regular season appearances, he recorded four saves, six holds, and picked up two wins for the Rangers. In those 30 games, Chapman threw 29 innings, recording a 3.72 ERA, and struck out a robust 50 batters.
Financially, Chapman makes sense for Texas. He would be much cheaper than free-agent Josh Hader, whose market could go up even more after Shohei Ohtani's record-breaking contract. Resigning Chapman gives Texas reassurance behind primary closer Jose Leclerc. Plus, Chapman would help make up for the loss of Smith.
So, retaining Chapman might not be a bad idea. He is a veteran pitcher who can bring plenty of experience as he has proven to have a positive track record. Having a power lefty in the pen for Bruce Bochy to use when needed would be a plus going into next season.