• There has been no official declaration of interest in free agent left-hander Aroldis Chapman on the part of the Washington Nationals since a few comments from the general manager following Chapman's bullpen sessions in Houston in mid-December, (as the DC GM, Mike Rizzo, further cements his reputation for running a leak-free front office), but still last night on the MLB Network, SI.com's Jon Heyman speculated that after the Toronto Blue Jays, the Nationals were second-in-line in pursuit of the 21-year-old Cuban defectee in a bidding war which as of Saturday night had reportedly risen to $23 million dollars...(with the length and structure of any such deal as of yet undefined)...
Meanwhile on Twitter...
• ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. furthered the rumors of concern over Aroldis Chapman's "personality", tweeting that he was, "...willing to bet a lot of cash that if the Yanks don't sign Chapman it has more to do with makeup than money." Mr. Arangure, Jr.'s colleague at ESPN, Buster Olney wrote about Chapman Saturday in a blog post entitled, "Talent evaluators split on Aroldis Chapman", (For INSIDERS only, sorry), in which Mr. Olney actually compares the difference of opinion on Chapman to that which exists over another of the more divisive talents in recent baseball history:
"A lot of time has likely passed since we've seen such a discrepancy of opinion over a player as there is right now on Chapman. Adam Dunn's play has elicited a wide range of thought, with the arguments falling along the 'Moneyball' fault lines."
• As the MLB Network did during SI.com's Jon Heyman's report last night, Mr. Olney goes on to compare Chapman to Randy Johnson, whose development was stalled til he was twenty-nine and finally figured out how to maximize his talents, and it's this comparison that's causing some team's consternation, as they ponder whether to offer a player who might struggle to adjust to the major leagues, (or in the worst case scenario end up a reliever as the non-believing scouts project), upwards of $20 million dollars...
• According to reports late Saturday afternoon, with a decision on Aroldis Chapman's part reportedly imminent, the Boston Red Sox had scaled back their efforts to land the left-hander. CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam wrote a short article entitled, "Sox all but out of bidding for Cuban left-hander", in which he says that though there may be, "...reports circulating that the Red Sox remain very much in the bidding for the free-agent pitcher, those familiar with the negotiations insist that the team is starting to pull back."
• The source of all the reports on Toronto's $23-million-dollar offer to Chapman is an article in the Spanish-language edition of the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, which is written by Jorge Ebro, and entitled, "The Marlins left the struggle for Chapman after offer of $ 23 million by Toronto", wherein Ebro writes: (and I apologize for the rough translation):
"...the offer of $ 23 million from the Toronto Blue Jays and one very close to that figure, but as yet undisclosed, from the Los Angeles Angels placed the Fish out of range to aspire to signing Chapman, who could be a rich man before the weekend's over..."
• While the El Nuevo Herald article inferred that the Blue Jays and Angels were alone at the top of the list of possible homes for Chapman, SI.com's Jon Heyman, in addition to mentioning the Nationals by name in last night's MLB Network Hot Stove talk, included Washington, in an article entitled, "Sources: Blue Jays may lead for Chapman", on a list of teams along with the Marlins, Red Sox and A's, "...among other teams with some level of interest, though," Mr. Heyman admits,"...it isn't known whether any of them can top the Jays' bid."
• Will the Nationals make a public offer for Chapman? Have they been quietly pursuing the free agent left-hander this whole time? Is the same quick route to the Majors that's existed since this franchise drafted Andre Dawson in 1975 enough of an incentive for Chapman to sign in DC? Where else is such a young (reportedly unpolished) pitcher going to jump to the top of a team's prospect list? And why wouldn't the Nationals take a chance? Don't let Dana Brown and Toronto win!!!! SIGN CHAPMAN!!!