Aroldis Chapman was adamant that he wanted to stay with the Yankees and Brian Cashman turned that desire into a team friendly contract extension.
The Yankees offseason won’t be defined by bringing Aroldis Chapman back, but it’s an excellent start to the winter for Brian Cashman and his front office. Re-signing the Cuban closer to such a team friendly deal will permit New York to be a big time player in free agency.
Interestingly, Chapman never opted out of his current deal with the Yankees that would have given him two more years at $15 million per season. He simply added one more season to the deal at a salary of $18 million. Add it all up and Chapman essentially inked a three-year, $48 million deal to extend his tenure as the Yankees’ closer.
Chapman’s last pitch in pinstripes may have ended his team’s season, but he was still an elite closer last season. He made 60 appearances out of the bullpen for Aaron Boone and posted a solid ERA of just 2.21. Perhaps more importantly, his 85 strikeouts in just 57 innings pitched proves that Chapman is still a power arm that can dominate opposing hitters.
Still, there are valid concerns about the declining velocity on Chapman’s fastball. He still regularly throws in the high 90s, but that’s a marked decline over the triple-digit deliveries that defined his early career. Those concerns made it imperative for the Yankees to avoid overcommitting to Chapman in terms of years. Paying him an elite salary for just three more seasons represents a significant win for Cashman and his front office. It allows the Yankees to retain Chapman during the rest of his prime without overpaying him on the downside of his career.
In the short-term, locking Chapman in for just $15 million in 2020 gives the Yankees a lot of financial flexibility heading into the heart of free agency. Specifically, it should position New York to make strong bids for top flight starting pitchers on the market. Both Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole should get a lot of attention from Cashman once free agency really gets cranked up. Overpaying Chapman might have limited the organization’s ability to pay big money for an ace.
Cashman and the higher-ups in the Bronx still have a lot of work to do this winter, but getting Chapman back on such a reasonable contract gets the team’s offseason off to a really promising start.