We all know by now that the New York Yankees went out and traded for Aroldis Chapman yesterday. It was a peculiar trade on a few levels, but one thing is for certain. The Internet, both Yankees fans and non-Yankees fans is abuzz with the good, the bad, and the ugly of this trade.
I had to sleep on it because there was a lot that went into this trade. And I’m not simply talking about the prospects involved, but the mentality behind it. So, after taking the night to sleep on it, here’s what how I break down the trade.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) December 28, 2015
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the good in this trade. The Yankees bullpen is sick. If the early rumors are true, then Dellin Betances becomes the seventh inning guy. Think about that, this guy would be a closer on no less than 50% of the other teams in baseball.
The trade moves Andrew Miller to a set-up role. Think about that! Miller was the AL Mariano Rivera Award winner in 2015. HE WAS THE BEST CLOSER IN THE AL, and now you can argue he’s not even the best closer on his team.
Chapman — well if you don’t know about him, you live under a rock. The guy is electric. He hits 100 so regularly, he threw the Top 50 fastest pitches in baseball last year!
He was a bit more hittable last year, but he still posted a sub-2.00 ERA, blew only three saves and had nearly double the strikeouts that Ivan Nova had in 30 less innings.
Many people thought that the Reds haul was an overpayment for one year of an elite closer. I think that is only because of quantity, but not so much quality.
Think about it. Chapman is one of the top five closers in the game, and the Yankees didn’t have to give up a single top five prospect to get him. Eric Jagielo is the biggest name in the deal, but the Yankees had given up on him due to poor defense and constant (I mean CONSTANT injury). Rookie Davis was the best piece in the deal, and barely anyone knew him until yesterday. Tony Renda is a nice piece, but he is a second baseman who doesn’t have the range to play shortstop, so he is locked into the position. Doesn’t every Yankees fan want to see Rob Refsnyder be the utility player? There was no room. Caleb Cotham is a 28-year old veteran minor leaguer who got lit up out of the Yankees bullpen in his 2015 MLB debut.
If Chapman hits, the Yankees got this at very little cost. As you know, I also break down prospects at minorleagueball.com. If you want to read my full breakdown of each prospect the Yankees traded, click the link below:
While the trade shortens the game for every starting pitcher in the rotation not named Masahiro Tanaka or Luis Severino, it didn’t address a glaring need for the Yankees: starting pitching. In fact, while the Yankees were ironing out the details with the Reds, Henderson Alvarez — who I would have loved to see in pinstripes — signed with the Oakland As.
First of all, stop it. Please don’t be one of those people that think, ‘Chapman was brought into the league as a starter, wouldn’t it be great if that was the Yankees plan?’ People are saying this. I don’t know if they are typing pieces purely to get people to read and react, but people are saying this is a possibility.
It’s not. Many believe that part of the reason Chapman was a bit more hittable was that he has become so reliant upon his heat, that his secondary pitches aren’t as strong as they used to be. There is little reason at all to believe that Chapman will be anything but the closer — with an ever so slight chance of being the set-up man — in 2016.
Which means that the Yankees still need starting pitching.
The ONLY downside to this trade is Chapman’s head. Can he handle the bright lights, big city, and even bigger media of New York?
Chapman’s ongoing domestic violence investigation led the Dodgers to nix a deal that was in place for the 27-year old fireballer. It scared off the Boston Red Sox who were interested in acquiring him as well. But it didn’t scare off the Yankees because Cashman felt that it was a good business deal, adjusted appropriately due to the risks involved.
The risk is that under the new MLB domestic violence policy nobody knows what to expect. You would think with names like Jose Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Chapman as the first three to be handed punishment under the new policy, that a severe and strong precedent will be set. At least I hope so. Should MLB boast about a new domestic violence policy, and then hand out 10-game suspensions to three household names, the policy will be seen as a joke.
What’s that mean in terms of games? 30? 50? The season?
Well, from the Yankees business standpoint, that doesn’t matter. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, if Chapman is suspended for 45 games or longer, then he will be under Yankees control through 2017 as well as the remainder of this year, so the Yankees get their full end of the deal.
OK, I had one thing wrong – players suspended by MLB for domestic violence incidents go on the restricted list and accrue no service time.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) December 29, 2015
I think any suspension of about 45 games or more pushes his FA back a year. (I might be off a day or two.) https://t.co/a0YwE2ebjI
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) December 29, 2015
That being said, it is more than the suspension. Plenty of big personalities have come to New York and couldn’t handle it. Does he have the intestinal fortitude and anger management skills to swallow his pride and take what the angry New York media and fan base has to throw his way after a bad outing? It’s a scary thought to process, and a very real one.
Some people feel that the Chapman deal opens the door for a bigger Brett Gardner/ Miller deal to bring in a big time starter that the Yankees desperately need. I don’t see that. It is inevitable that MLB will hand down a hefty suspension and Miller will be the closer still for the foreseeable future. Maybe at the All Star Break, right before the deadline and Chapman has played a little, Cashman will be able to make a move, but I’m not so sure he intends to break up the three headed monster at the back of his bullpen just yet.
All in all, I think the Yankees made a good trade from a business standpoint. They got someone who is elite at his position for no prospects that were considered elite (and considering I see Jagielo as a future DH, it makes it even more peculiar that the Reds went after him).
If the investigation proves otherwise, and Chapman is a good dude, then the Yankees just greatly improved their chances at returning to the playoffs.