Possible suitors lining up for Chapman

Giants, Dodgers, Yanks, Nats and darkhorse Marlins could be interested

Possible suitors lining up for Chapman

The offseason has just begun, and already there has been no shortage of talk surrounding Aroldis Chapman.

The hard-throwing left-hander is one of three top-tier closers on the free-agent market, along with Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon, but he will in no way get lost in the shuffle. In five seasons working the ninth inning, Chapman has 181 saves, a 1.84 ERA and an MLB-best 15.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

One club with an obvious need for a closer is the Giants, and in fact, MLB.com's Jon Morosi reported on Thursday that San Francisco officials met with representatives for Chapman, Jansen and Melancon this week at the General Managers Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Giants' bullpen struggled last year, with closer Santiago Casilla converting just 31 of 40 save opportunities and ultimately losing his job. Casilla is now a free agent, along with fellow relievers Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez.

One factor to consider for San Francisco or any other club without a protected top-10 pick in the 2017 Draft is that while signing Jansen would result in the loss of a first-round selection, landing Chapman (or Melancon) would not. That's because the latter two were traded midseason, making them ineligible for the one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer the Dodgers gave Jansen.

Speaking of the Dodgers, they could end up jockeying with their National League West rival for Chapman's services. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that the club is expected to "make a dedicated pursuit" of the lefty, though Jansen remains in the picture as well.

When it comes to L.A.'s interest in Chapman, it's worth noting that the club was working to trade for him last winter, before allegations of Chapman's involvement in a domestic violence incident surfaced. With Chapman facing a possible suspension from the league, the deal fell apart. Ultimately, the Reds worked out a trade with the Yankees instead, and Chapman served a 30-game suspension. He later was dealt to the Cubs before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

As for Chapman's two most recent former teams, one appears to be a more likely destination than the other.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman already has reached out to Chapman's agent, according to the New York Daily News. On the other hand, Cashman also has said he would be comfortable giving the closer job to Dellin Betances, who was part of a three-headed bullpen monster with Chapman and Andrew Miller for a portion of last season.

The Cubs paid a hefty price for Chapman on July 25, parting with pitcher Adam Warren and three prospects, including shortstop Gleyber Torres, MLBPipeline.com's No. 17 overall prospect. Despite that, Chapman is likely headed elsewhere, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reported this week. General manager Jed Hoyer suggested that the World Series champions are more likely to go with an in-house solution or swing a trade than pay up for a free agent such as Chapman.

The Nationals are another club that may be in the mix. Melancon stabilized the closer spot for Washington after coming over in a Trade Deadline deal, but with the veteran a free agent, general manager Mike Rizzo acknowledged this week that he is looking to "upgrade the back end of our bullpen."

As for a darkhorse candidate, it might be worth keeping an eye on the Marlins. While Miami's need for a starter is greater, the club has a long-held interest in Chapman and could look to "make a big splash" by landing the All-Star closer, as MLB.com's Joe Frisaro wrote on Wednesday.

With all of those teams in the picture, the pursuit of Chapman will be one of the stories driving this Hot Stove season.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.