New York Yankees flame thrower, Aroldis Chapman, is due to change locations for his 105 mile per hour fastball at any moment, leaving the Yankees in a precarious position and one lucky National League team with an advantage over its rivals. To this point we know the: Indians, Nationals, Cubs and possibly either the Dodgers or Giants (or a different “mystery” team) are in pursuit, making the odds highly likely Chapman ends up pitching for an NL contender down the stretch.
For the team receiving the hard throwing lefty, it could add a big help to any contender, as there is no NL contending team with a dominant bullpen except maybe the Pirates, including the Mets, who are not rumored to be in the mix. Chapman is battle tested, in his prime and a game changer, even with a K/9 under 13 for the first time in his career, compensated with the lowest walk rate to boot.
Chapman is also more refreshed than usual, not having pitched until early May because of a winter domestic dispute leaving him suspended, but to his credit, staying out of trouble since and only having thrown 31 innings as a result. The Yankees have asked all remaining teams to submit their best offers and New York is likely targeting highly touted pitching prospects in exchange for a pitcher they will have the option to resign without compensation penalties at the end of the year anyway.
For the Yankees trading Chapman is both a no-brainer and a head scratcher On one hand, they can literally gain value in exchange for nothing. Chapman might come back to the team long-term at the end of the year, New York is in a fixed mode of mediocrity, sitting one game over .500 even after a nice winning run against good teams and the team wouldn’t have to give up a first round pick since Chapman would be traded mid season. While Chapman’s winter market could become bigger with no loss of pick attached (as opposed to if the Yankees didn’t move him and offered him arbitration) but New York is headed into the first of three consecutive seasons with major money coming off the books.
Teams That Want Aroldis Chapman
The Yankees will likely look for a young, MLB ready starter or a highly touted, top 100 prospect. It would seem, from that standpoint and from team need standpoints, the Cubs and Nationals are best suited to make a winning offer. The Indians have the pitchers to make a deal but will also need to find a top of the line hitter due to consistent health issues with Michael Brantley and a catching injury to Yan Gomes.
For the Cubs it’s 107 years of failing to win a title, having one of its best teams ever and very clearly needing at least one elite reliever. There is a lot of pressure to make a move for Chapman, especially if it means the added bonus of keeping him from the Nationals, who may end up as the Cubs’ chief contender.
For the Nationals, relief pitching has provided nightmare fuel of past playoff failures, with Washington failing to make it out of the first round since the team moved to the DC Area, mainly due to pitching meltdowns late in games. Washington won’t want to see a team like the Giants or Cubs, the two other teams with the best records in the league, fix a hole while preventing the Nats from arguably their own best solution.