Tag: Aroldis Chapman Page 4 of 9

MLB suspends Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Boone, and Kevin Cash

MLB handed down suspensions to Aroldis Chapman (3 games), Aaron Boone (1 game), and Kevin Cash (1 game) following last night’s postgame benches clearing shouting match. Boone and Cash will serve tonight. Chapman is appealing.

The league’s announcement states that Chapman intentionally threw at Mike Brosseau in the 9th inning last night. Boone was suspended for Chapman’s actions. Cash received his penalty for postgame comments in which he bashed the Yankees’ coaching and noted that he had “a stable of pitchers who throw 98”.

We can argue about whether or not Chapman’s pitch was purposeful or not, but I don’t understand how Boone gets the same suspension as Cash. Boone was rational in his postgame press conference, whereas Cash was a loose cannon who effectively threatened the Yankees.

Now, as for tonight, will there be any further action?

Boone also thinks it can and should be behind us. We’ll see. Still have to play nine innings tonight.

Yankees Activate Aroldis Chapman, DFA David Hale

The Yankees’ bullpen just got a whole lot deeper. Aroldis Chapman is back with the team after recovering from COVID-19. Aaron Boone told reporters that Chapman will pitch the 9th inning tonight if there is a save situation, but they will not use him on back-to-back nights this week. He’s been throwing some sim games at the Alternate Site and supposedly sitting 99 with his fastball. He should be game-ready, but they won’t push him. That all makes sense to me.

Chapman is a welcome addition to the pen. The Yankees middle relief has been shaky at beset so far in 2020, and Chapman has been the best reliever in baseball by fWAR since joining the Yanks in 2016. Chapman threw to a 2.21 ERA (2.28 FIP) with 85 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched for the Yankees last year. His return moves Zack Britton (1 R in 8.1 IP so far this year) to the 7th and 8th inning. It’s good.

It’s bad news for David Hale, though, who was DFA’d to make room on the 40-man roster. Hale has been pretty good in his two years with the Yankees, but will be sent to the Alternate Site if he clears waivers.

The fallout from Chapman’s COVID-19 results

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Aroldis Chapman tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. He’s experiencing “mild” symptoms, though “mild” often is a misnomer when it comes to this illness. In any case, it’s incredibly unlikely that the Yankees’ closer will be ready for Opening Day next Thursday. He’ll need two negative tests within a 24-hour period to return, not to mention getting his arm back to full strength. The Yankees wisely aren’t speculating when Chapman will return, but rather, Aaron Boone has noted that the lefty will be out for the foreseeable future. That means changes are coming to the team’s bullpen.

Earlier this month, I cobbled together a 30-man roster. Obviously, things are going to look different without Chapman (and potentially Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Cessa, and DJ LeMahieu). Whichever way the team decides to go in terms of filling out the roster, it’ll also have to reassign bullpen roles. Boone didn’t waste much time indicating that Zack Britton will take the reign as the team’s closer, which makes sense. The lefty sinkerballer has plenty of closer experience (145 career saves) and is an excellent reliever in his own right. There’s really not much more to it, though I’ll add some rationale to why he makes more sense over other options.

Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, and Adam Ottavino are all arguably better relievers than Britton, but that doesn’t necessarily make them better fits as the team’s interim closer. And it’s not just about Britton’s closer experience, either.

2019 Season

Britton has the lowest strikeout rate of the group by far, though he did fan 28.7 percent of opponents in the second half of 2019. Still, he hasn’t had a full season punchout rate north of 21.6 percent since 2016 when he was with Baltimore. So, what’s my point? I’d rather have Britton start with a clean ninth inning rather than needing to be a potential escape artist in the mid-to-late innings. He walks too many and strikes out too few for that sort of role to work for him.

Obviously, clean innings will be available in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings at times. It’s just that I’d rather not have one of the team’s elite strikeout relievers pigeon-holed into the closer role. It wouldn’t be ideal to, say, not use Kahnle in a strikeout situation in the seventh because he’s needed for the save in ninth.

What about closer by committee? That’s one of those things that works well in theory, but isn’t necessarily easy to implement. Baseball players, particularly relievers, tend to be creatures of habit. Certain pitchers can handle not knowing exactly when they’ll be needed, but many others like to have a better idea of when to be ready. Plus, with such a deep bullpen, are we really that concerned about deploying the best reliever possible in the highest leverage situations? I don’t think so. Boone really can do no wrong with all the options he has at his disposal, so assigning innings to certain pitchers is fine to do.

Ultimately, it’s no surprise that the Yankees will go with Britton for saves while Chapman is down. Not only does he have the most experience in the closer role, but he’s also better off entering without baserunners. It’s not that he can’t work out of trouble — ground balls for double plays are Britton’s best friend, of course — it’s just that the others seem to be better bets to do so in earlier innings. In any case, this is only temporary. Britton may only get three or four save opportunities before Chapman is healthy again.

Fun with Hypotheticals: A Mock Expansion Draft

Not going anywhere

Saturday offered a flurry of updates on the Gerrit Cole negotiations, but none of them really added much clarity beyond pointing out that said negotiations are ongoing. So while we all chew on that, let’s dive into a fun hypothetical and imagine this scenario, pointed out by Twitter user Jeremy Siegel:

Luckily for our wildest fantasies, we don’t have to worry about protecting 16 year old phenom Jasson Dominguez, whom the Yankees signed this past summer. Let’s jump into it otherwise.

The No-Trade Brigdage

The first requirement of the challenge is that we have to protect the no-trade clause players first. For the Yankees, that means we have to protect Masahiro Tanaka, Aroldis Chapman, and Giancarlo Stanton. The implications for this are mostly good. These are three players any team would want and each has the potential to be among the best at his position. As far as forced keepers go, you could do a lot worse.

(Players Protected: 3/12)

The No Brainers

Protecting the Yankees’ core is the next obvious move. There’s no need to further explain keeping Gleyber Torres, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino.

(Players Protected: 7/12)

The Final Five

At this point in the game, we might want to start thinking about long-term ramifications, but my approach is different. Here, I’m just going with straight up talent. The original tweet didn’t specify the rules for how many players could be taken and how often, so I’ll be taking some risks leaving people unprotected. However, in putting the most talented players on the protected list, I’m confident in my gamble.

First up would be James Paxton. As the latter part of the year showed, he’s got ace potential and needs to be protected. Sticking with the pitching side of things, I’ll go with top prospect Deivi Garcia.

Moving to position players, I go with Aaron Hicks and DJ LeMahieu. Both are quality hitters–for different reasons–and good to great defenders. DJLM also offers positional flexibility, which would help hedge against losing other infielders.

The final spot comes down to, in my mind, Luke Voit vs. Miguel Andujar. And I choose Andujar. He’s got the higher upside than Voit and Voit might be more replaceable if lost than Andujar.

With 12/12 done, let’s look at the list.

  1. Tanaka
  2. Stanton
  3. Chapman
  4. Severino
  5. Judge
  6. Sanchez
  7. Torres
  8. Paxton
  9. Garcia
  10. Hicks
  11. LeMahieu
  12. Andujar

Yankees, Aroldis Chapman Agree to One-Year, $18m Contract Extension

The Yankees have their closer. More accurately, the Yankees’ closer isn’t going anywhere. As expected, the two parties agreed to a one-year extension of Chapman’s contract. He will obviously not be opting out. The additional year is worth $18 million and it means Chapman will be in the Bronx through 2022. Jeff Passan of ESPN had it first.

Here’s how the deal will impact the Yanks’ Competitive Balance Tax Sheet since that’s a thing we all have to care about now. Because this is an extension and not a new deal, the additional year gets added on to the original contact. That means what was once a five-year, $86 million contract is now a six-year, $104 million deal.

The good news is that this means the hit is very minimal from that perspective: what was once a $17.2 million annual value is now a $17.3 million annual value. That’s because these deals are assessed as the average annual salary, not the annual salary in a given year. However, there will be an additional $533,000 added for tax purposes for 2020 alone to make up for the money that wasn’t paid from 2017-19.

The bad news is that, if you want to be pessimistic, this is now $17.8 million in CBT assessment that could have been freed for Gerrit Cole (or Stephen Strasburg, who opted out earlier tonight) had the Yankees chosen to let Chapman walk. Here is my reaction to that:

We don’t know what the Yankees’ plans are with regard to starting pitching, and I personally do not find it worth getting irritated about just yet. If and when Gerrit Cole signs elsewhere and we hear it was for financial reasons, have at it. Until then, it’s just not worth it. At least to me. You are obviously free to feel however you like.

The way I look at it is that we really don’t know how things are going to shake out just yet. Recent history isn’t encouraging, but Gerrit Cole is a special case for a lot of reasons. I’m not hopeful per se, but if anyone is going to make the Yankees make that big splash, it is going to be Cole. We should just wait and see. If they don’t make a competitive offer for Cole, I’ll be as mad as you are. Trust me on that one.

Anyway, there are very valid reasons not to like Chapman, obviously, and there are very valid reasons not to want him on your favorite baseball team. But in pure baseball terms, Chapman is about as good as it gets. Here are some of his relevant rankings since joining the Yankees in 2016 (note that this includes his few months in Chicago):

  • fWAR: 8.1 (1st)
  • FIP: 2.07 (1st)
  • ERA: 2.33 (3rd)
  • Average Fastball Velocity: 99.5 mph (4th)
  • HR/9: 0.42 (4th)
  • Strikeout Rate: 38.3% (5th)
  • Batting Average Against: .147 (5th)

Chapman has added a slider as his fastball velocity drops and he has remained as effective as ever. He is a very good pitcher. The Yankees bullpen, long a focus for the team, is better with him in it. From that point of view, I’m not at all surprised to see him back. I never expected him to leave, in all honesty. Will Smith is great, but there is no Chapman replacement sitting out there waiting in his place.

A contract extension made a lot of sense for both parties. The Yankees keep one of the best relievers in the game and Chapman gets another year on his deal without having to test the rough free agency waters.

Anyway, the first step of the Yankee offseason is now complete. I expect to see a one-year deal for Gardner announced soon. After that, it’s time to go big-game hunting. Gerrit Cole, we’re looking at you.

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