The deal which keeps on giving.
At first glance, $86 million may look like a hefty price to pay for a closer, even Aroldis Chapman. Yet, when one looks beyond the numbers, this was more a case of New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reading the market and taking full advantage.
While the organization was taking a risk following Chapman’s domestic violence incident and subsequently nixed trade from the Cincinnati Reds to the Los Angeles Dodgers, they decidedly bought low and sold high.
The Yankees turned mid-to-low level prospects into Chapman, Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Rashad Crawford and Adam Warren. Oh, and by the way, effectively obtained Starlin Castro and got Warren back for essentially Brendan Ryan.
The Chicago Cubs got their World Series ring out of this to be sure. Yet it may still be the Yankees who come out of this with a title or two or three.
Yes, that’s a huge contract for a closer but it’s not your money or my money. The team could’ve given Dellin Betances a turn at closing, groomed Luis Severino for the gig or given slightly less and a first round draft pick for Kenley Jansen. However, they know what they have in Chapman, a guy who is a lefty flamethrower, who is a proven entity in New York and in the postseason.
While they no longer have Andrew Miller, the 2017 Yankees are conceivably deeper in the pen and have Chapman for six months. Between April 5 and May 8 last season, New York was 11-18 without Chapman. From July 24 to Oct 2, the club went 35-29 after trading him. After acquiring Chapman, the Cubs rattled off a ledger of 42-19. Granted that club was on pace for 100 victories but the addition of Chapman was a hell of a boost.
The Yankees now move forward with a bullpen of Chapman, Betances, Tyler Clippard and whichever arms don’t crack the wide open starting rotation. Chapman’s signing also enables the Yankees to give their young starters like Severino, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, etc., to develop.
Bringing Chapman back also gives the Yankees a one-two punch with Chapman and Betances. If Severino falters in the rotation but instead thrives in the bullpen again, it could give New York a potent trio. Or, if the Yankees figure they have Chapman entrenched in the closer role and feel Severino is better suited for the pen, perhaps they flip Betances to a club desperate for a closer at the deadline and gain back a starter or more prospects like they did with Chapman and Miller last season.
In making the record deal, the club must feel comfortable enough given Chapman’s off-field incident. Like I said when they dealt for Chapman initially, the idea of bringing in a player with a troubled past was nothing new, evidenced by the likes of former Yankees Steve Howe, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and a handful of accused steroid users.
Mind you those players had mostly self-inflicted discretions and it doesn’t excuse what Chapman did but they must feel like they have a strong enough clubhouse culture to keep Chapman on track.
So, the Yankees get a hard throwing, soon-to-be-29-year-old, proven quantity in Chapman. Once again, the organization read the market correctly, rather than overpay a mediocre to awful starter, they went big for the best available at a position of need.