Not surprising to anyone, news of the New York Yankees already contacting free agency pitcher Aroldis Chapman suggests they’ve very much open to the idea of bringing him back, this time on a long term deal.
Chapman joined the Yankees last offseason via trade from the Cincinnati Reds. He was the closer in an exceptional three-man bullpen trio that included Andrew Miller (also traded, to the Indians) and Dellin Betances. Chapman played very well for the Yankees, making 31 appearances and 31.1 pitched innings. He posted a 2.01 ERA while making 20 saves (just one blown), while posting a career best 5.50 K/BB ratio. He did even better in Chicago in terms of ERA and strikeout ratio, eventually helping them win the World Series.
Now, Chapman is a free agent. Initially it was believed the Yankees traded him because they had no intention of re-signing him, but it seems they’re trying to see what Chapman is looking for. Considering who is going after him (Cubs, Dodgers, maybe Red Sox and others), he won’t have a problem signing a massive payday, maybe the biggest ever for a relief pitcher. He made $11.3 million last season playing for the Yankees and the Cubs.
According to Brian Cashman, bringing in Chapman isn’t a vote of no-confidence in Betances, who finished the season as the Yankees closer, but had some rocky games in the final month of the year, as the Yankees fell out of contention for the playoff spot. In the general manager’s opinion, it’s all about bringing in more talent. The Yankees did do most of their shopping last season through trades and have on intention of spending too much money as they try to avoid paying luxury tax, but they could make an exception in Chapman’s case.
While the Yankees have loaded up on prospects, their focus this offseason is improving their pitching. Not necessarily the bullpen, which is in pretty good shape without massive signings. It’ll probably be wiser for them to spend their money on upgrading the rotation, with Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and C.C. Sabathia as the faces of that unit, without anyone established behind them.