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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

October 28, 2009 at 8:46 AM

Mariners’ interest in Aroldis Chapman heating up

The Mariners have stepped up their pursuit of free agent Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman and are asking to meet with him and his agent, Edwin Mejia,, in the coming week, according to a source.

There are no details yet on a date or location of a potential meeting by Chapman with Seattle officials. Chapman is being pursued by numerous teams, the Yankees and Red Sox most fervently, according to reports. The Yankees hosted him for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, while Chapman is scheduled to throw a bullpen session today at Fenway Park.

The Tigers, Cardinals and Orioles are among other teams linked to Chapman, who arrived in New York last Wednesday from Europe to begin the process of meeting with teams and deciding with whom to sign. Other teams, such as the Dodgers and Angels, are likely to get involved as well.

The Mariners have closely monitored the 21-year-old Chapman, whose fastball has reached triple-digits, since he defected in July in Rotterdam. He established residence in the small country of Andorra in the eastern Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France, and had been training in Barcelona and Madrid

Here is the column I wrote recently detailing his journey and pointing out the Mariners’ likely involvement in the bidding. They have actually been scouting him since his amateur days in Cuba, and were one of the few teams that saw him throw in Barcelona. He was declared a free agent by MLB on Sept. 25,

The question, of course, is how high they would be willing to go for a player who is being touted as the left-handed verson of Stephen Strasburg, and whose asking price has been rumored to be in the $40 million to $60 million range. The Yankees and Red Sox are awfully hard to beat in these kind of bidding wars if they zero in on a player. One gauge of Chapman’s potential interest in Seattle would be if he actually comes to visit the city. It’s hard to imagine he would sign on sight unseen.

Stay tuned.

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