Right now, it looks like Jose Valverde has a far better chance of re-signing with the Astros (something he almost certainly won't do) than the 'Stros do of acquiring the defecting Cuban pitcher.
A source tells me that earlier on, Chapman's reps did get a call from the Houston Astros to "touch base" (no pun intended), but that Houston never followed up on it. One has to wonder if Houston was too worried they've invest too much capital in a talented-but-unproven player and have nothing left over to Scotch tape a team together for 2010.
Perhaps Chapman's asking price could instead be invested on a year or two's worth of signing draft picks and replenishing the farm system.
Other teams who have been interested in A-Chap include the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees (no surprise there for either team), along with the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets, Florida Marlins, and St. Louis Cardinals. The Sox, Yankees, and Black-and-Orange Birds, more so, and the Mariners and Mets to lesser degrees.
Apparently the Cards cooled off in their interest about A-Chap when Tony LaRussa's return as manager and the new coaches became an issue.
"Considering his price seems to have dropped from $30 million or $40 million to around the $20 million mark, I think a lot more teams are interested," the source tells me. "But if the Sox or Yankees or another team with a budget wants him bad enough they'll bid them out."
And, surprise surprise, even the lower-market teams are getting into the mix. I'm told the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates are now interested in Chapman. Also, possibly, are the Washington Nationals, whose general manager attended the showcase.
Yes, Houston needs quality pitchers—especially in the starting rotation—but one has to think the team should focus on keeping its current talent locked into long-term deals. You know, Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez. It also needs an effective closer.
My understanding is that with some international pitchers (such as Daisuke Matsuzaka) a team has win a bidding war just to earn the rights to exclusively negotiate with him. The Red Sox made of a winning bid of more than $51 million for that right. I don't know if that's the case with Chapman, since the Royals and Pirates are now in the running and that seems like a lot of money to spend with no guarantee you'll even sign the player.
Richard Zowie is a Houston Astros fan and a Bleacher Report blogger. Comment below or for a private response or news tips, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .