Yankees, Aroldis Chapman agree to extension

The Yankees and Aroldis Chapman wanted to continue their relationship, but only under the right circumstances. On Sunday morning, the two teams found common ground.

“New York, I told you I wasn’t going anywhere!”

That’s what current and now closer-for-the-foreseeable-future Aroldis Chapman proclaimed on Instagram as news broke that he tacked an extra year and $18 million onto his current contract with the New York Yankees. The extension means Chapman will earn $48 million through 2022.

The decision was a smart one for an organization that not only considers a strong bullpen a top priority this offseason, but places an added premium on players able to excel in New York.

Chapman, 31, will be entering his fourth full season as Yankees closer and is coming off one of his best professional seasons; he was named to his fifth All-Star team and was awarded as American League Reliever of the Year after sporting a 2.21 ERA with over 13 strikeouts per nine innings, a .182 opposing batting average and 37 saves in 57 innings of relief.

The extension, however, isn’t without question marks.

Chapman’s fastball has declined in speed every season since 2016, although the decision to become more reliant on his slider, which he threw at a career high rate of 31%, has helped offset his velocity woes. There’s also injury concerns; while the Cuban native didn’t have a stint on the injured list in 2019, he’s had issues with his shoulder and knees in recent seasons.

The Yankees will return their big five of Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle for the 2020 season. There’s a possibility Dellin Betances, currently a free agent, takes a one-year prove it deal to stay in the Bronx after pitching in only one big league game this past year. Jonathan Loaisiga, Jonathan Holder and Luis Cessa, amongst others, will look to fill out the back end of the bullpen.

The decision to keep Chapman in New York on a rather team-friendly deal was the smart play for the organization, both due to his on-field success and because they didn’t break the bank for his services.

Where this leaves the Yankees in terms of spending money for the rest of the offseason? That’s a different story.

Dan Federico is a co-founder of Bronx to Bushville.

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