Astros decide to pass on Chapman
GM Wade would rather make investment in multiple players
HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Ed Wade got an up-close look at Cuban phenom Aroldis Chapman during a private workout in Houston on Dec. 15 that was arranged by his agents and came away impressed -- just not enough to make a run for the left-hander.
"In all candor, I don't see us a player in that market at this point," Wade said. "The economics are going to run away from us, only from the standpoint that if we're going to make significant investments in the development system we would like to sign [multiple players]."
Since Wade took over as general manager late in 2007 and hired Bobby Heck to rebuild the scouting and player development department, the Astros have made inroads in signing international players. In November of 2007, Felix Francisco was hired as director of Latin American scouting and Glen Barker as director of Pacific Rim scouting.
The Astros signed their first Taiwanese player, pitcher Chia-Jen Lo, in 2008 and last year signed 18-year-old Korean prospect Chan Jong Moon, an infielder. The club signed 17-year-old Dominican left-hander Edgar Ferreira last month to a bonus rumored to have been $350,000.
Chapman, who reportedly threw 102 mph during the World Baseball Classic, worked out for about 50 Major League scouts last month in Houston, where his agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks, are based. Wade attended the workout along with Heck and national cross checker David Post.
"If there was an assurance that Chapman was going to be a top-of-the-rotation starter almost immediately, we would take a different approach," Wade said. "The kid has a great arm and stuff, but we'd rather have the flexibility to sign multiples. That's the approach I've taken since I've gotten this opportunity to be here and gotten our international and Latin American programs to the point they're at now.
"I'd prefer to give Felix Francisco and his guys the ability to go out there and sign multiple good, young arms versus putting the lion's share of our money on one particular guy. We took that approach this past year and lo and behold in December we were able to scrape together money already in the budget to sign Ferreira. Those are the types of things we want to continue to try to do. I'm a little leery committing our [international] resources to one particular guy."
Chapman, 21, defected from Cuba while playing a tournament in the Netherlands last summer and has since established residency in the country of Andorra.
In November, Chapman switched his representation to Hendricks from Athletes Premier International, which has since filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts against Hendricks for "tortuous interference with a contract, interference with advantageous business relations, intentional tort, and unjust enrichment."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.