Jeff Passan revealed that the Reds and Aroldis Chapman have reached a deal to avoid arbitration. It took a little while to hash things out with Chapman - arbitration hearings begin as early as February 1 - but the Reds will skip the Arbitration Chamber (?) for the eleventh season in a row.
Chapman was the last case on Jocketty's desk. The last time the team went to a hearing was 2004 vs. Chris Reitsma.
Chapman is in his second season of arbitration eligibility and gets a sizable raise - from $5M to $8.05M. However, depending on how you're scoring Chapman's incredibly byzantine contract at home, his compensation is staying about flat. In 2014, he got an additional $4.25 in bonus (and salary converted to a bonus) on top of his arbitration award. If you count bonuses toward overall salary, you can probably say the Reds aren't really spending more money on Chapman in 2015 vs. 2014.
As Passan notes, the parties settled at nearly $400K above the midpoint. This could have something to do with ensuring that Chapman's take-home pay is not actually reduced on some technical level. Or it could have nothing to do with that at all because no one understands how this contract is actually budgeted.
The Reds do right by their players, but if there's any strategic significance to this, maybe the team is making a small down payment on an extension. While it seems likely that Chapman is one of the first on the trade block if the Reds are out of it at the deadline - or next offseason at the latest - I could also see the Walt restructuring his messy payout scheme, perhaps adding a year and allowing Chapman still to hit free agency at a prime age.
The future is hazy for the Reds' closer. Is this his last season in Cincinnati? Last half-season? Or will he be paid by the team well into the '20s? In any case, I'm going to continue to love watching that man pitch.