Royals trade LHP Aroldis Chapman to Rangers: Why he’s off the market so soon

The Kansas City Royals have traded pitcher Aroldis Chapman to the Texas Rangers, the team announced Friday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Chapman posted a 2.45 ERA and 1.23 WHIP this season with 53 strikeouts.
  • Chapman didn’t play an entire year with the Royals. He signed a one-year contract with the team in January.
  • In return, the Royals receive pitcher Cole Ragans and outfielder Ronnie Cabrera.

AthleticInstant Analysis:

One of the best relievers is already off the market

The trade deadline is more than a month away. Teams are already in touch about making moves, but they usually don’t happen until there’s deadline pressure. But the Rangers and Royals have a solid working relationship. The two clubs shared a spring training facility in Arizona. Texas general manager Chris Young played for Kansas City, and one of his lieutenants was former general manager Dayton Moore. So it makes sense for the pair to get together as soon as summer.

The Royals signed Chapman, 35 and a seven-time All-Star, with the intention of trading him. Chapman lived up to his part in the bargain. After a poor end to last fall’s Yankees tenure, Chapman upped his fastball to 99 mph while striking out 16.3 batters per nine innings. His walk rate of 6.1 batters per nine innings is a concern, but Chapman has the stuff and pedigree to help any bullpen. — McCullough

Bruce Bochy has a few options

The Rangers were expected to compete in 2023, but it was uncertain whether the team would be ready to compete. The team is capable of running away with the American League West, given the strength of its lineup and the depth of its rotation. The team, which lost Jacob deGrom to Tommy John surgery, didn’t miss a beat.

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With Chapman in the fold, manager Bruce Bochy should be able to go more smoothly through the latter three games. Chapman joins Will Smith as the left-handed option to fill in for right-handed setup man Josh Spores. All playoff teams need as much relief depth as possible. And the Rangers look like a playoff team. — McCullough

Evaluating the opportunities in the contract

Lefty Cole Ragans added 4 mph to his four-seamer this spring and did it without losing any movement on the pitch, but his command and control were disappointing and led to too many walks and too much hard contact. Only 62 percent of his pitches this year have been for strikes of any kind, and he’s in the zone less than half the time, rates that don’t give the quality he’s capable of — and when he’s in the zone with his fastball or cutter, it’s more often mid-middle, and that’s where he gets hit hard.

His cutter seems to hold him back, leaving a disproportionate amount of hard contact, and he’d do well to ease into the skill. Left-handed batters have crushed him this year because of that pitch, though he hasn’t even gotten a whiff from a lefty on his curveball. Ragans is a two-time Tommy John surgery veteran who didn’t pitch between 2017 and 2021, and has just 314.1 innings on his entire pro resume. A four-seamer, with curve and change seems adequate here, and at worst, he should be a total guy, but he needs to improve his command of the fastball (and cutter) over the last man. An employee.

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The Royals acquired 17-year-old outfielder Ronnie Cabrera, who turns 18 at the end of July, and is playing in the DSL for a second straight summer, this time with significantly improved results through 15 games. He’s a strong kid with a great swing that should allow the ball to drive into the gaps and eventually, over the fence, where he can settle into right field without filling in left because of his plus arm. It’s a small sample this year, but he’s hitting .320/.469/.620 with 12 walks and seven strikeouts in 64 plate appearances. Before signing with Texas in January 2022, he trained with Christian Bautista. Law

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(Photo: Peter Aiken/USA Today)

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