‘Chief’ Signs FA Deal, Bashes Champs Leadership

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Updated: April 29, 2018

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‘Chief’ Signs FA Deal, Bashes Champs Leadership

by Francis Ferry, NLN baseball beat writer

‘Chief’ leaves Duluth with bitter, hard feelings

January 1, 2027: Aurora, Colorado – “Let us be perfectly clear” began Luis ‘Chief’ Nieves at his meet the press after (finally) signing his new contract with the Borealis on New Years Day 2027. “Kiers’ was trying to slander me, ya know, knock me down, disvalue me. He didn’t want to sign me to a reasonable contract, ya know, all I done for the organization. We were shouting and I slammed my fist down on the table and that bowl of soup jumped, ya know, and splattered all over some papers on his desk – including the contract offer he was offering up, ya know. That’s what ‘throwing soup’ looks like to him. Man… Can you just imagine what his evaluation of pitchers looks like?”

Nieves may have been asking the Champion Duluth Warriors for the $20M reported by Tricia Takanawa, after earning $18M in 2026, but he was more than happy to join the Borealis for a guaranteed $29M over the next two seasons (and maybe a taste of vengeful redemption on the horizon), with the team owning a pair of options for his age 35 and 36 seasons (2029-30) for an additional $14M and $13M. “We were in on Luis from the start.” GM Will Topham said of Aurora’s offer for the Puerto Rican right-hander.

“But ‘Chief’ took his time listening to other offers – most notably, we believe, that of Neo-Tokyo. We told him, do your diligence – and we were confortable with that because all indications we were getting was that this is where he wanted to be.” Topham said.

The Large Elephant in the room: Provost’s impending opt-out…

“In the end,” Nieves reasoned “when I looked at those stats sheets and see Mike Provost and Randy Smith, ya know, at or near the top of nearly every category, and my name there with them, ya know, where’s my best chance to pitch for The Cup in 2027 and beyond? Right here with the team that has the most! Kierstead… Man, ya know… He can take his selfish trophy and…”

The Aurora GM was prompted to jump in quickly before the percolating Luis Nieves ran over the line of decorum when it came to his former-GM.

I’m pretty sure we all can see that ‘Chief’ feels pretty bitter about his benching during the PEC – and who could blame him? Returning to the Warrior rotation after three seasons of primarily relief work, Nieves was 11-11 with a 3.71 ERA, but what captured the eyes of the Aurora front office was his excellent K/BB ratio and the fact that playing with a stronger defense behind him should improve his numbers overall.

Nieves signed with Hermosillo of the Mexican League at the age of 18 (2013) where he toiled for 6 seasons before winning the Mexican League and jumping to Duluth in 2021. With the Sols he was primarily a closer where he saved 75 games with a 2.45 ERA over his 6 seasons. The Warriors threw him into the rotation in 2022 where a ghastly 48 homers haunted him – and forced Duluth to move him to the ‘pen. After a 1.85 ERA in 78 appearances in 2025 – and 157 K in 121 IP (with just 24 BB) Kierstead moved him back to the rotation after taking over the club before the 2027 began.

Where he fits in with Aurora will largely be determined during spring training. “We have 6 starters now,” Topham began when asked this by the press “and the only certain starters are Mike and ‘Tugboat’. Luis’ history of fine work out of the ‘pen may cause us to lean in that direction and use him as an old school swing man, but it’s all up in the air. We could trade someone and open a spot. I will say this: we are facing a critical time – as far as the team is concerned.” Topham continued “It’s no secret age is creeping up on us and it’s also no secret that the nature of his contract means this could be Mike’s last season with us, in which case, ‘Chief’ becomes a little insurance policy.”

Field looks to beef up the ‘pen and be ‘Storks’ future replacement

Either way, the Borealis has improved the pitching – and perhaps last years Achilles Heel, the bullpen, with what is expected to be their lone free agent signing. Sliding Nieves and recently acquired Dan Field (from Crystal Lake) into a ‘pen that imploded down the stretch should make a world of difference and keep Aurora in the chase for 2027 hardware.