Top Five Best Fits for the Yankees on the Free Agent Market
The top priority for the Yankees this offseason is improving their pitching staff, and with no real impact starters available (at least none that can be relied upon), the best way for them to use their freed up money on the free agent market seems to be giving a record-setting contract to closer Aroldis Chapman, who is arguably the top impact arm available.
With 12.7 wins above replacement according to Baseball-Reference, no reliever has been more valuable than Aroldis Chapman over the last five years. He has an incredible 1.84 ERA (216 ERA+) and 1.68 FIP in 314 appearances over that span.
I’m opposed to giving big money deals to relievers in principle, but Chapman is clearly the exception. Still just 28, there have been no signs of decline to his famous heater. In fact, he averaged a career-high 100.4 mph with his four-seamer in 2016. Injuries are going to be a concern when investing big in any pitcher, but Chapman hasn’t made less than 54 appearances in any year since his first full season in 2011. He’s definitely safer than most.
Unlike fellow elite free agent closer Kenley Jansen, Chapman also comes without a qualifying offer attached since he was traded at the deadline. And why Jansen or Melancon would probably do fine transitioning to the American League and the Bronx, with Chapman you have the security of knowing. He’s done it and seemed to thrive on the energy of pitching on the big stage.
It may sound crazy, but it probably takes five years and $18 million annually ($90 million total) to land Chapman because of the sky-high price of pitching and all of the other team’s who should be in on the bidding. Still, there’s a very good chance that Chapman would be worth every penny if New York makes that deal.