Aroldis Chapman's Contract With Cincinnati Is Complicated
But what we learned Tuesday is that the contract voids if Chapman becomes arbitration eligible in 2013, the rest of his deal converts into a $5 million bonus and he goes into the arbitration pool. If he becomes arbitration eligible in 2014, he gets a $3 million bonus and goes into the arbitration pool. That means that if Chapman is as advertised and makes the Reds out of camp (or early this season), he makes his $15 million bonus, $4 million in base salary over his first three seasons, a $5 million bonus for becoming arbitration eligible early, plus whatever he earns over the next three seasons in arbitration.
Considering the arbitration clause and the fact that the option is a player option, the Reds will be paying at least $30 million and at most somewhere in the ballpark of $45 or 50 million for a player that no one really knows much about. If Chapman turns into the next Randy Johnson, it'll be a bargain.
The danger for Cincy lies in Chapman impressing early on to achieve arbitration status, but never quite living up to his hype. That would mean that they'll be forced to pay a huge bonus, they'll get zero years of complete payroll control, and they'll still have to deal with three arbitration seasons that will take his total payout north of the current $30 million figure. That's a lot of money for a team like the Reds to pay a pitcher that might not develop into an ace.