The Angels appear to be lining up an offer for Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman and they could have an inside edge when it comes to signing the hard-throwing left-hander.
Chapman has become a close friend of Angels first baseman Kendry Morales, a fellow Cuban refugee who recently helped convince him to switch agents. Chapman and Morales have spent time together in Miami and have worked out together recently.
"Selfishly, we're a nice fit. It's hard to come over here, and Kendry gives him some idea of the pitfalls of the adjustment," Angels scouting director Eddie Bane said. "It's a fit, but who knows? It depends on the price."
The Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins both reportedly offered Chapman a contract, with Boston's $15.5 million not enough to get a deal done, ESPN.com reported earlier this month. Since then, Chapman dropped agent Edwin Mejia in favor of the Hendricks brothers [agents Randy and Alan Hendricks], who represent Morales.
Roughly half the 30 teams had scouts in Houston for Chapman's workout earlier this month. Bane was there with area scout Kevin Ham. Bane said Ham's radar gun clocked Chapman throwing 97 mph once, but that he routinely worked in the 93-95 mph range from multiple arm angles.
"And he's got that slider that just eats up your back feet," Bane said.
The Angels' interest was tepid until Chapman agreed to work out, primarily because they hadn't seen him since a brief appearance in the World Baseball Classic last spring.
Bane and Ham brought video back to Angels general manager Tony Reagins, who wouldn't say whether the Angels have made an offer to Chapman.
"We were impressed with his workout," Reagins said. "Beyond that, there's really not much to report."
The division-rival Oakland A's also have expressed an interest in Chapman, 21. Oakland has some wiggle room under its $42 million payroll, but a bidding war could make him too expensive for all but the big-budget teams. The Angels have said they will spend roughly what they spent last year on player salaries, $113 million.
"I don't see a team like Oakland or Kansas City or someone like that getting him," Bane said.