Aroldis Chapman arbitration: Reds and closer settle for $5 million

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Chapman will actually receive nearly double that amount over the 2014 calendar year due to clauses in his original contract.

The Cincinnati Reds and closer Aroldis Chapman have avoided an arbitration hearing after agreeing Tuesday on a salary of $5 million for the 2014 season, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Chapman was eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason. He originally signed a six-year contract worth $30.25 million with the Reds as an international free agent out of Cuba prior to the 2010 season. Most of that money came in the form of a $16.25 million signing bonus (including $1.25 million being paid out each November from 2014-20). Outside of the bonus, he has only made $6 million over the past four years.

Chapman's original contract had him earning $3 million in 2014, but provided a clause that stated if he were eligible for arbitration following the 2013 season, the $3 million would be a bonus in addition to what he earns in a hearing. Thus, between bonuses and his new contract, Chapman will actually receive at least $9.25 million when all is said and done over the 2014 calendar year.

The Reds have used Chapman solely in a relief role at the major league level over his career. Over the past two seasons, he has been the team's primary closer and has been among the best in baseball at the position with a 1.51 ERA in 2012 and a 2.54 ERA last season. He has made a living out of striking out incredible amounts of hitters. His strikeouts per nine innings has never dipped below 12.8 and reached a career-high 15.8 in 2013. That's over 1.5 strikeouts per inning pitched.

Despite his success as a closer, Chapman has never been fully locked into that position by the Reds. He started games in Cuba and was given a look as a starter in the minors by Cincinnati when he was first signed. Though he has yet to start a major league game, the Reds have often contemplated moving him to the rotation. He started two games in spring training of 2013 and four games in the spring before that.

Chapman himself appears sick of the constant rumors that he might move to the rotation, telling reporters in December: "I'm tired of every year the same thing about me either starting or closing. What I have in mind is closing games and that's it."

New Reds manager Bryan Price does want to maximize the value he gets out of his closer, however, saying the goal is for Chapman to toss at least 60 innings in 2014. That would not be unfamiliar territory for Chapman, who pitched 71⅔ innings in 2012 and 63⅔ innings in 2013.

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