Aroldis Chapman wants to sign an extension with the Yankees, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be in pinstripes for the 2020 season.
Aroldis Chapman doesn’t want his last pitch for the Yankees to be the home run that ended his team’s playoff hopes against the Astros. Instead, the talented closer wants to find a way to reach a contract extension with the team that can extend his stay in New York.
It’s still far from a certainty that Chapman will be the Yankees’ closer in 2020. According to Jon Heyman he “prefers to remain a Yankee” but he does intend to opt out of the remaining two years left on his contract. Instead of collecting $15 million per season in 2020 and 2021, Chapman wants to sign another long-term deal.
Assuming Chapman does indeed opt out of his current deal, expect Brian Cashman and the Yankees front office to immediately extend him a qualifying offer that would pay him $17.8 million next season. That won’t be good enough to bring back the electric southpaw either. Chapman will almost certainly decline that offer and become a free agent. The only significance of the offer is that the Yankees will be in a position to recoup draft compensation if Chapman signs with another team.
It’s still good news for the Yankees that Chapman’s preference is to sign a new deal with the team. Zack Britton could always slide into the closer’s role for Aaron Boone moving forward, but that would have a negative overall effect on the Yankees bullpen depth. That was an undeniable strength of the franchise in 2019.
The real question is just how far Cashman will go to bring Chapman back into the fold. There are concerns about the declining velocity on his fastball. He still regularly runs it up to the plate in the high 90s, but that’s a meaningful decline from the triple digits Yankees fans saw just a season or two ago.
To Chapman’s credit, he’s worked hard to develop a breaking ball that’s now arguably his best pitch. That should bode well for his ability to continue to be an effective reliever into the future.
The question will come down to years and dollars though. Don’t look for Cashman to reset the market for closers. If he can bring Cashman back on a four or five-year deal that doesn’t exceed $20 million per season then there should be enough common ground for both sides to get a deal done. If Chapman is looking for more than that, his talents may take him elsewhere in 2020 and beyond.