When Chapman was a young kid, he was a boxer, trained by his father. He started playing baseball at age 11 and was a first baseman until 15, when his team one day needed someone to take the mound. He rarely played first base after that.
"In Cuba, one of the first things they teach you is how to throw the fastball," Aroldis said. "I was a fast learner."
On July 1, 2009, Chapman left the Cuban national team at the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands, defecting so that he could pitch in the United States. The Cuban team did not confiscate the players' passports. That was an open door for Aroldis, and he walked through it.
He escaped to a Rotterdam hotel that was followed by four days of partying in Amsterdam, 22 hours of driving through France with an MLB agent and a few months spent establishing residency in Andorra, Spain, so he could establish residency. One of his first purchases after arriving in town was a Barcelona soccer team jersey with his name and his #52 on the back.
He left behind a newborn daughter, Ashanti Brianna, with his girlfriend of two years, Raidelmis Mendosa Santiestelas. The baby was born on June 28, three days before Aroldis defected, and he did not even get to meet her. Chapman also left behind his parents, Juan Albert Chapman Benett and Maria Caridad De La Cruz; and two sisters, Yusmila and Yurixan. Chapman has never met the toddler, but he proudly shows off the tattoo of her name on his right triceps to anyone who asks about her.
"I miss them a great deal, but you have to know how to recover and move on," Aroldis said. His parents and girlfriend were later reunited with him, all of them living in his south Florida home.
But Chapman's first stop in the U.S. was White Plains, New York, where he lived with his first agent, Edwin Mejia for two months.
- When Chapman was with the Cuban national team, he and his teammates did calisthenics in a choreographed synchronicity worthy of a Broadway musical.
Although Aroldis considers himself a shy, introverted person, his charisma is obvious, which should lead to many endorsement opportunities throughout his career. He is always polite, thanking people for their time and shaking their hand. He is patient, relaxed and easy.
Friends say he is shy around strangers, but people close to him can't get him to shut up. Teammates regard Chapman as cordial, but distant.
"Sometimes, when he's not here mentally, you don't know where he is," then-Reds manager Dusty Baker said in 2011.
Since becoming a millionaire, Aroldis has spoiled himself with flashy jewelry, fast cars (a Lamborghini), and fine food, mostly steak. The vanity plates on his Lamborghini read "102 mph," which is actually an understatement.
Perhaps to correct that error, Chapman showed up for 2011 spring training with a tattoo on his left wrist of a baseball with a trail of flames, and the inscription "105.1 MPH," in honor of the pitch he threw to Padres OF Tony Gwynn Jr. in September 2010.
He also had "Jesus" inked onto his right breast.
- In the spring of 2011, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Chapman as the #1 prospect in the Reds' organization.
Aroldis is a Univision junkie, with an interest in several Spanish-language soap operas.
He likes hearty American food, attacking the post-game spread like a horse, gobbling down anything, yet never gains unnecessary weight.
- Chapman has a long, lean frame and high, prominent cheekbones.
Growing up in a communist country, Chapman saw his inner fashionista seriously restrained by a lack of money and material. Most people in his hometown of Holguin have access only to basic jeans, tennis shoes, and T-shirts. Even those who could afford a more exotic look couldn't obtain it.
"Where I come from, you're not allowed to do anything, so I wore the most simple clothes you could imagine," he says.
Aroldis says he owns 60 pairs of shoes, all Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Coach. He buys fitted long-sleeve shirts as if they were going out of stock. If he gets chilly in Cincinnati, he keeps warm with tight leather jackets, thin gloves and bandanas. (Molly Knight-ESPN the Magazine-4/04/11)
May 21, 2012: Chapman was arrested by police in the Columbus suburb of Grove City for speeding and driving with a suspended license. Aroldis was going 93 mph on northbound Interstate 71 shortly before 1:00 a.m.
May 29, 2012: Chapman's room at the Omni William Penn hotel was robbed. Aroldis was not there when police arrived, because he and the Reds were at the ballpark. But when they arrived, police found a 26-year-old woman tied up and crying in Chapman's room.
Officers were alerted of the distressed woman by two guests who heard her screaming for help, according to the Post-Gazette. The guests, who were staying on the same floor of the hotel, found the woman inside an open room with her hands bound by cloth napkins, police spokesman Diane Richard wrote in a news release obtained by the Post-Gazette.
The unidentified woman, whom Richard said was from Silver Spring, Md., was "the hotel guest of a male who attended the Pirates baseball game and who was not present at the time of the incident. During this incident, the male guest had various items taken and was later interviewed by detectives," the news release said.
According to the Post-Gazette, the woman told police a man claiming to be a hotel maintenance worker there to fix a toilet knocked on the hotel room door. After she opened it, the man demanded various items in the room, and when she denied him, he bound her and took several things, including jewelry, a computer, credit cards, and ID cards, according to the police department's news release.
The woman was taken to UPMC Mercy hospital.
However, on June 21, 2012, that woman was charged with filing a false police report. Claudia Manrique of Silver Spring, Md., was charged by Pittsburgh police with a misdemeanor and must return to Pittsburgh City Court for a preliminary hearing Aug. 28. Manrique was not arrested; a court summons was being mailed to her
Chapman told police he arranged for Manrique, an exotic dancer he had met earlier this year, to fly to Pittsburgh in May. The Reds were in town for a series with the Pirates at the time. Police investigators contend Manrique lied when she claimed she was tied up in Chapman's hotel room by an unknown assailant who made off with about $6,000 in jewelry and other items the night of May 29.
Manrique first told police the man showed up at the room pretending to be a maintenance man who was there to fix the toilet, but she later changed her story, saying she first encountered the man in a downtown drugstore and he later showed up at Chapman's room seeking a bag filled with more than $200,000 in jewelry. Police said the bag contained some of Chapman's jewelry but was not among the items taken that night.
Aroldis is liked by his teammates but has gained a reputation as a loner. There are nights he would rather relax at home accompanied only by King, his pit bull, and a cocker spaniel named Yuma.
Pre-game: "I pray right before getting on the field. I pray to God. I get on the mound and there is no other thought that I think about except the next pitch and the batter," Chapman said.
Favorite sport, other than baseball: boxing.
Three athletes he enjoys watching: LeBron James in basketball; Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson, who used to play in the NFL; and Derek Jeter.
Aroldis was asked what personality qualities he admires, and said, "A person who is humble. And a person who is very courteous to everyone. Being humble and being courteous."
Aroldis bought his $1.8 million home in Davie, Florida, mainly because it reminded him of American mansions he had seen on TV shows like "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air."
It has a grand entry hall, oil paintings, an eight-seat movie theater, and a five-car garage, all within an hour's drive from Miami. It is close enough to a Cuban community, but removed from the temptations of South Beach.
Chapman's only mode of transportation in Cuba had been a friend's broken-down bike. He bought a Lamborghini with and additional $40,000 worth of custom work. Then, his new teammates chuckled while watching him spend 15 minutes trying to maneuver the car into a parking space at the stadium.
Aroldis has a small circle of confidants, including his parents, who arrived in January 2013. His daughter, Ashanti Brianna, and her mother, Raidelmis Mendosa Santiestelas, finally joined him in January 2014. He won't talk about the details of how they left Cuba. (Sept. 26, 2014)
June 22, 2015: Aroldis's third child was born. His two other children are daughter Ashanti Brianna and son Atticus Gabriel.
July 2015: Chapman was selected to his 4th consecutive All-Star Game. Each time has been by his peers in the big leagues.
October 30, 2015: Aroldis was involved in another domestic violence incident with his girlfriend. Though not everything was revealed, a police report mentioned that Chapman fired eight gunshots in the garage of his home in Davie, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale. Then, before a trade to the Dodgers could be finalized, more info came out.
Chapman's girlfriend told police the incident started when she questioned him about something on his cellphone. Chapman admitted to police that he fired the gun but denied choking his girlfriend. She said he both "pushed" and "shoved" her.
Aroldis told officers the two were arguing about his cellphone in a separate room when he became "aggravated" and "pushed her against the wall."
Her brother came in to break up the argument, and her mother also tried to intervene, according to the report. Then, Chapman got in the passenger seat of his vehicle and "punched the passenger side window with his left fist inside the vehicle, creating a laceration to his left pinkie knuckle."
Chapman, according to the report, said he then retrieved his pistol, locked himself inside his garage, fired "several shots" and threw the pistol away inside the garage. Crime scene investigators later recovered eight shell casings inside the garage. It was not immediately clear whether Chapman had a license for the firearm.
After they arrived, officers made several attempts to reach Chapman, and they set up a perimeter around the home to check for firearms and question any witnesses involved in the incident.
Police said in the report that they did not make any arrests because of inconsistencies in stories and lack of physical evidence of injuries. Four days later, Assistant State Attorney Marcie Zaccor said there was insufficient evidence to charge Chapman in the incident. Photographs of the alleged victim's neck and chest were submitted to the Davie Police Property Control, but she left the scene of her own accord and signed an affidavit of complaint "advising she did not wish to prosecute."
January 21, 2016: Chapman did not face charges for the October domestic dispute between the Yankees reliever and his girlfriend, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "We are all pleased that the Davie Police Department and the Office of the State Attorney took the time to fully investigate the matter and have concluded that charges were not warranted," Chapman's lawyer Paul Molle told the newspaper.
March 1, 2016: Chapman became the first player to be penalized under Major League Baseball's new Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Child Abuse policy. April 3-May 9, 2016: Chapman was placed on the restricted list for 30 regular season games.
April 29, 2016: Aroldis posted a photo on Instagram that showed him posing with his newly acquired documents at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices.
"Today is a very important day for me and I want to share it with all of you," Chapman posted. "Today, April 29, 2016, I've [become] a U.S. citizen and I want to thank God and this great nation for the opportunities it has offered me and my family. Very happy to say that I'm a U.S. citizen." (Hoch - MLB.com)
August 14, 2016: "Smack My Bitch Up” shouldn’t be on any playlist in any arena or ballpark.
And yet, somehow, it happened at Wrigley Field during a Cubs game after an inning pitched by a guy who just this year was suspended 30 games for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.
The Cubs authored their entry into the growing list of avoidable public relations disasters in Chicago baseball in 2016 when the Wrigley DJ decided it would be a good idea to play the Prodigy song after Aroldis Chapman’s outing against the Cardinals.
Chapman was suspended for an incident in which he allegedly choked his girlfriend and fired a gun eight times, though he never faced charges.
When the team announced the Chapman acquisition three weeks ago, the Cubs' public relations team put out preemptive statements from Chapman and Chairman Tom Ricketts addressing the past and attempting to put it behind them. This team knew it was acquiring a figurative headache and wanted to mitigate the amount of damage done to the brand in the process.
The Cubs responded to the massive social media backlash for Sunday's incident by firing the DJ who played the song. (Matt Lindner/Redeye )
Dec 16, 2016: Aroldis Chapman said that he did not agree with how Chicago manager Joe Maddon and the Cubs used him in the postseason, specifically pointing to his surprise relief appearance in Game 6 of the World Series against the Indians. Chapman was summoned in the seventh inning of Game 6 at Progressive Field with Chicago holding a 7-2 lead. He recorded four outs in a 20-pitch appearance that he said taxed him for the decisive Game 7, when he blew the save in a 35-pitch outing that included surrendering a game-tying, eighth-inning homer to Cleveland's Rajai Davis.
"Personally, the way he used me during the playoffs, I believe there were a couple of times where maybe I shouldn't be put in the game and he put me in," Chapman said through an interpreter. "So I think, personally, I don't agree with the way he used me. But he is the manager, and he has the strategy. My job is to be ready, to be ready to pitch whenever that is, however many innings it is. I need to be ready for that, and I need to go in to do my job."
Chapman worked in five of the seven World Series games, but he said that he never voiced his concerns to Maddon or the Cubs.
"I never told them my opinion about the way he was using me, because the way I feel is that as baseball players, we're warriors," Chapman said. "Our job is to be ready to do what we need to do on the field. If they send me out there to pitch, I'm going to go out and pitch.
"If I'm healthy, I'm going to go out there and pitch. If I'm tired, I'm going to put that aside and just get through it. It's kind of like a warrior, you know, they send you somewhere and you've got to go there. Your mentality is that you have to go there and do your job. That's the way I see it."
Maddon said that he was surprised to hear Chapman's comments and that he consulted the pitcher about his useage before every game. The Cubs manager also praised the lefty's contributions for the World Series champs.
"I know the home run probably bothered him a little bit and that's probably the residue of what sits in his mind," Maddon said. "But moving forward, all I know is I loved having him and I thought we had a great relationship. He's a one of a kind, man. I've never been on the field with a more athletic pitcher. … Anybody that strong, anybody who can do what he does -- it's not even once in my lifetime, it's once in a century. ... So from my perspective, we appreciate what he did." (B Hoch - MLB.com - Dec 16, 2016)
January 10, 2010: Chapman signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Reds. So where did the money come from? It's all in the accounting. Chapman's big league salary for 2010 is about $1 million. He also got a hefty signing bonus, reportedly $6 million to $7 million. It breaks down to $1.5 million each November 1 from 2010 through 2013, and $1.25 million each November 1 from 2014 through 2020.
"The signing bonus portion comes out of amateur and international signing bonuses," General Manager Walt Jocketty said. "It's completely separate. The rest we factored into our payroll down the road."
The salary breakdown is $1 million for 2010 and 2011, $2 million each in 2012 and 2013, and $3 million in 2014. Within five days of the 2014 World Series, Chapman must decide whether to exercise a $5 million option for 2015. If he becomes eligible for salary arbitration after the 2012 season, he is to receive $5 million as an additional bonus. If he is eligible for arbitration after the 2013 season, he would get a $3 million bonus.
Chapman signed with Reds' scouts Chris Buckley, Tony Arias, and Miguel Machado.
January 28, 2014: Chapman and the Reds agreed on a one-year, $5 million contract, avoiding arbitration. Aroldis had submitted for $5.4 million, with the Reds offering $4.6 million.
February 13, 2015: Aroldis and the Reds avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $8.05 million contract. Chapman had filed for $8.7 million in arbitration, while the Reds had countered with an offer of $6.65 million.
December 28, 2015: The Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman, sending four minor leaguers to the Reds: RHP Caleb Cotham, 3B Eric Jagielo, RHP Rookie Davis, and INF Tony Renda.
February 12, 2016: Chapman and the Yankees avoided arbitration agreeing to a one-year contract worth $11.325 million.
July 25, 2016: The Cubs acquired Chapman by sending four players to the Yankees: pitcher Adam Warren and prospects Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.
Nov 3, 2016: Chapman elected free agency.
- December 8, 2016: Aroldis signed a 5-year, $86 million contract. And it has a clause that says he cannot be traded to any team on the West Coast.