The latest rumors include a potential decision from Rob Manfred on Aroldis Chapman on Tuesday in the 25-30 game range for a suspension. Chapman was involved in a domestic dispute over the summer and, along with Jose Reyes, will be the first two extremely high profile “domestic” related cases in the wake of the NFL’s repeated missteps on the topic.
We know Chapman will be suspended despite no charges, no testimony of abuse, but accusations of shooting a gun off in a garage somewhere between one and eight times. MLB does not need evidence to punish a player and Chapman, for his temper issues, should be punished.
It’s unlikely Manfred would suspend Chapman from spring training so he will likely institute around a 25 game ban in the regular season. Suspending the closer less than 20 games isn’t a harsh enough message and longer than 45 games would cause a player’s union headache since Chapman would lose his free agent eligibility.
MLB wants to send a message, but it doesn’t want a war on its hands.
So suffice it to say Chapman will likely miss April with his appeals notwithstanding and the Yankees will need a contingency plan.
Acquiring the fireballing lefty for pennies on the dollar came with inherent risk, so New York has probably long considered this outcome as a possibility. Here are the best and worst case scenarios for Chapman on the field:
Best Case Scenarios:
- Chapman misses most or all of April, comes back healthy thanks to a full spring training and is in “mid-season” form at the end of the season, carrying the load into October.
- Chapman is suspended and the Yankees barely miss a beat, handing the reigns over to Andrew Miller, who was an elite closer himself last year. New York likely carries an extra reliever for the wacky April schedule anyway and can add an extra bench guy when Chapman returns, ready to fire close to 60 innings.
- Chapman stays healthy and has a big season, giving the Yankees a slight discount on resigning him for supporting him throughout the process. New York will have money coming off the books next year and plenty more the two years to follow. If Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez join Greg Bird and Luis Severino as homegrown core players, the Yankees could probably retain Chapman as a long-term luxury (and eventually let Miller walk) and still sign a superstar at third base and an ace.
Worst Case Scenarios:
- Chapman makes another off field mistake and gets himself suspended longer or harms someone. Let’s not make a mistake in thinking Chapman’s only danger is on the field, he needs to prove he can stay healthy off of it.
- Chapman, due to irregular (lack of) use, gets injured upon returning and qualifies for free agency but has an injury riddled season. The Yankees, in a worse case scenario, likely still get an extra pick in a better draft next year, but would have to question surrendering a couple of prospects for a pick with very little output.
- Chapman cracks under New York media pressure with all of his distractions off the field and struggles while healthy on the field.
- New York starters struggle and as a relief of overuse in his absence, Yankees’ relievers get overworked. By the end of the year, both starters and relievers are overworked and Chapman’s presence is overstated.