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Jul '09 02

Aroldis Chapman defects from Cuban Team in Rotterdam

He still was listed on the team lineup, when Cuba stepped on the field to play against the Netherlands at the World Port Tournament in Rotterdam on Thursday evening. But he wasn’t really there. It is another big blow for the record Baseball World Cup champion, as hard-throwing left-hander Aroldis Chapman apparently defected on Wednesday and will travel to Miami today.

This morning the website CubaenCentro.com reported that Chapman has left the team hotel on Wednesday to sign with a Major League franchise in the United States. Dutch players saw him yesterday and confirmed that he took a seat in a waiting car and drove away. Obviously the Cuban team denied at the WPT that he is gone and still had him on the roster with number 52. However he wasn’t on the field, when the teams were introduced.

ESPN’s Jorge Arangure later this afternoon also confirmed the report and offered a first estimate how much the promising 21-year-old can command on the free agent market. He compared him to the case of Jose Contreras, who received $30 million from the New York Yankees in 2003 following his defection.

Chapman last pitched in March for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic (ERA 5.68). He touches 100 MPH with his fastball and has a slider in the upper 80s according to Keith Law of ESPN. He was the most-talented pitcher on the Cuban team, but still has lot work to do to be successful at the Major League level. He had an ERA of 4.03 in 118 1/3 in the Cuban league last season.

At the end of last year starting pitcher Yadel Marti and outfielder Yasser Gomez were the latest Cuban players to defect. They have yet to sign with a Major League organization.

Fangraphs analyzed Aroldis Chapman during the WBC


  1. Comment by Owen
    July 2, 2009 | 9:51 pm

    I would have thought Cuba would have taken his passport from him when he arrived in Holland. Odd if they did this how he could then leave Holland?

  2. Comment by philipp
    July 2, 2009 | 9:54 pm

    I also read about it on another site. Not sure how this works.

  3. Comment by Owen
    July 2, 2009 | 10:34 pm

    To follow up I am shocked that Cuba event sent him when he is such hot property. Cuba normally only takes players who they are sure will not defect. Norm younger guys and older players who they trust. Unlike the hotel in Haarlem for Honkball week which is near nothing the NH Hotel in Rotterdam is in the town centre. Players openly sell stuff at the stadium and then use the Euros to go shopping in Rotterdam (seen this 1st hand). Suitcases are jamed when they leave!!. Unsure how supervised the shopping trips are. Normally by the hotel entrances the Cuban old guard sit and monitor what is going on.
    To sum up for someone reason this does not add up why they sent him to Holland on a non important trip.

  4. Comment by makoG
    July 3, 2009 | 12:29 pm

    Owen, I think it would have been better to tie Chapman to a chair and only free him for pitching. Or even better to build in the team some covered spies, so that they can report about the intention to defect. As it already happened to an ex-Cuban player, as I heard.
    Good luck for Chapman in the major league!

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