Former KC Royals closer lands massive raise from NL Central team

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Former KC Royals players continue to find new homes this offseason, but reliever Aroldis Chapman is cashing in for the 2024 season. Francys Romero reported Monday evening that the Pittsburgh Pirates were signing the 35-year-old lefty. The New York Post's Joel Sherman further clarified that Chapman's deal was a one-year contract worth $10.5 million.

The KC Royals brought Aroldis Chapman's career back to life in 2023.

That is a huge jump from the one-year the Royals gave Chapman last offseason, worth $3.75 million. Chapman's career was on the cusp of ending following the 2022 season, where poor performance and locker room issues saw his New York Yankees tenure end unceremoniously. Chapman came to Kansas City and was lights out from the bullpen. He appeared in 31 games for the Royals, racking up 53 strikeouts and only allowing eight earned runs across 29⅓ innings. His 2.45 ERA, 1.69 FIP, and 43.4% strikeout rate were among the league's best through the opening months.

Kansas City cashed in on the veteran's success in June when they traded him to the Texas Rangers. The AL West team desperately needed bullpen help, and the Royals were going nowhere, so the pairing made sense. This was a rare win-win trade, with both teams having excellent returns on investment.

First, the Rangers went on to win the World Series, the second of Chapman's career. He was still good with the Rangers down the stretch, but not nearly as dominant. His strikeout-to-walk ratio improved, but his FIP and ERA increased, causing some troubles for Texas. All that mattered at the end was the banner in Arlington and the coveted Commissioner's Trophy heading to Texas.

On the other hand, Kansas City received first-round pick Cole Ragans and outfielder Roni Cabrera in the deal. Ragans was brilliant for Kansas City, making 12 starts with a 2.64 ERA. He earned AL Pitcher of the Month honors in August, where he posted a 1.46 FIP and struck out 53 batters in 36⅔ innings. Cabrera is only a 17-year-old prospect in the Dominican Summer League, so his MLB future remains to be seen. He still had a great 2023 season across the two organizations, with a .915 OPS and 20 walks to 26 strikeouts.

The Pirates have more in common with the Royals than the Rangers, so Chapman may not finish the year in Pittsburgh. No matter what his ultimate team is, the reliever is cashing in for perhaps the last time in his career, one that the Royals reinvigorated.