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Washington Nationals: In Or Out On Aroldis Chapman?

"Just give it up already!" "You know he's not going to sign with the Nationals!" "One of the big revenue teams is going to overpay to get him." Or as LA Angels' scouting director Eddie Bane tells's Mark Saxon in an article entitled, "Cuban prospect draws Angels' interest", while it may make sense for a big budget team like Arte Moreno's Angels to take a chance on the 21-year-old Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman, "I don't see a team like Oakland or Kansas City or someone like that getting him." The A's, Mr. Saxon reports, are working with a payroll around $42 million dollars, and Kansas City spent $70 million last season, while the Angels' are likely to come in around $113 million as they did in 2009. What about the Toronto Blue Jays?

Toronto opened the 2009 season with an $80.5 million dollar payroll. According to Mr. Saxon's colleague,'s Jorge Arangure, Jr.'s article entitled, "Source: Blue Jays watch Chapman", a "source close to Chapman" who spoke to ESPN the Magazine told them that the Blue Jays, "...held a private workout for the touted Cuban pitcher Thursday morning in Florida, then met with his representatives." Mr. Chapman's representatives, the Hendricks brothers, Alan and Randy, were cited by Mr. Saxon as the reason the Angels might hold an upperhand in the negotiations, since they also represented LA first baseman Kendry Morales, himself a Cuban refugee, who has befriended Chapman, and, "...recently helped convince him to switch agents."

So the $42 million dollar A's, the $80 M dollar Jays and the $113 million dollar Angels all have expressed interest in Aroldis Chapman, along with the Red Sox, who reportedly have had a $15 million dollar offer on the table for some time now, so why shouldn't the Washington Nationals, who opened the '09 campaign with a $60 million dollar payroll and were down to $40 million after the season, according to Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell's article entitled, "Rizzo's checklist for Nationals is halfway there", and could go as high as $70 million (if they follow his recommedations for free agent signings), which would still, "...only have ranked the Nats 24th of 30 (in team payroll) in '09," be involved in attempting to sign Aroldis Chapman?

What type of team are the Nationals? The Angels' scouting director says he doesn't believe, "..a team like Oakland or Kansas City," is going to sign Chapman, and though a $60-$70 million dollar payroll would put Washington right alongside Kansas City financially, (Oakland spent $62M last season), $60-$70M is still in the bottom third of the league in terms of team salaries. Nationals' team President Stan Kasten, when asked if he foresaw, "...a day that the Nationals payroll will be competitive with Atlanta (and) Philadelphia," or if Washington's payroll would, "...always be somewhere between Florida and the rest of the group," in the NL East, told his old DC GM Jim Bowden in an interview on XM MLB's Home Plate which is transcribed by Washington Post writer Dan Steinberg in a D.C. Sports Bog post entitled, "Jim Bowden interviews Stan Kasten", that, "...unlike a lot of cities that try to build from the ground up," the Washington Nationals are, "...not gonna be like a lot of those other cities who really have limitations on revenue..":

"I think we're a big revenue market ultimately. We're not maybe New York or L.A., but I think we're on that tier right below it, certainly enough to compete with anybody, and I do foresee the day that happens."

When the Nationals signed Esmailyn Gonzalez out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, they outbid teams like the Twins, Rangers, Red Sox, Braves and Yankees, and's Bill Ladson quoted Stan Kasten in an article entitled, "Notes: Nationals sign Gonzalez", explaining why the signing (which would eventually embarrass the organization), was such an important moment for the relocated and rebuilding franchise:

"'This is an important signing,' Kasten said via telephone. 'We can now compete for the best talent in Latin America. We will have a presence there.'"

The Nationals selected Stephen Strasburg with the No. 1 overall pick this season, and signed the pitcher, widely-regarded as the best prospect to come along in years, to the largest contract ever given to a draft pick. If Aroldis Chapman were eligible for the 2010 Draft, he'd probably be one of the highest-rated prospects available, since, anecdotally at least, he's been called the best pitcher outside of Major League Baseball for some time now, (with all due respect to Yu Darvish), so why shouldn't the Nationals be players here? Imagine what a boost to the organization adding three No.1-overall-pick-type players in a year-and-a-half can do to help in the rebuilding that's been going on since they first stepped onto the international scene by signing "Smiley" Gonzalez in 2006?