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.