When the legend Mariano Rivera hung up the cleats in 2013, there have been a lot of contestants trying to fill his role as the Yankees closer. But earlier this afternoon, the Yankees got their guy. Four time all star, Aroldis Chapman was traded from the Cincinnati Reds where he got 146 saves in the span of 6 seasons. Chapman doesn’t have the devastating cutter Rivera used to throw; in fact, Chapman is kind of like the opposite of Rivera.
The Yankees gave away 4 minor leaguers for the one of the most intimidating pitchers in the game…and that’s just an understatement. Batters try not to show fear as Chapman fires 100+ MPH fastballs on a regular pitch basis. The one thing that batters hate when they face him is that they don’t know where the ball is going…and sometimes neither does Chapman.
Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a deal with the Reds to send Chapman to the Blue Crew. But after Chapman was alleged to being involved in assaulting his girlfriend, the deal was called off. Knowing the Reds are in complete rebuild mode, they weren’t done trying to trade him, which caused the Yankees to give them a call, and the rest is history.
One question mark is if Chapman will be in uniform on Opening Day. His assault charges are in further investigation right now and if it doesn’t play out in Chapman’s favor, Yankee fans may not be seeing him close a game until later in the season.
But let’s say the charges are dropped and he is ready to go for Opening Day. You could arguably say that the Yankees have the best 1-2-3 punch coming out of the bullpen in all of baseball. With having Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller being the 7th and 8th inning guys before Chapman, you could say the chances for a comeback by the opposing team decreases dramatically. But who knows, with the signing of Chapman, Miller could be on the trade block. With the Yankees trying to get younger, an everyday outfielder or power hitter could be a good option for replacing a 38 year old Carlos Beltran and 40 year old Alex Rodriguez.
If Miller isn’t dealt anywhere this winter and the Yankees decide to have a 3-headed monster in the bullpen, all you have to tell your starting rotation is to give their team a quality start and the bullpen will finish the job. Not that hard, right? Maybe not for the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees finished 23rd last season in quality starts in all of baseball with 72. But with the offense finishing second in runs scored and picking up the team’s ERA being above 4, you can say that the lesser amount of quality starts won’t be a problem.
Another issue the Yankees COULD have with this deal is if that Chapman becomes a free agent next season. If Chapman has a break out year and another team offers him some big bucks, don’t be surprised if he decides to sign elsewhere. But knowing the Yankees and their history of big contracts, I don’t see there being another team getting in their way.
With this deal being done today, the Yankees made their case that they will be contending for the A.L. East crown just like everyone else. They and Boston’s bullpen seem to be equally dominant on paper. But no matter how good your team looks on paper, I, as a Red Sox fan, know that anything can happen when the season starts.