Let’s be honest, re-signing Aroldis Chapman was a bad decision by the Yankees.
Of all the signings the New York Yankees have made over the past decade, with Jacoby Ellsbury hands down being the absolute worst, it’s hard to believe this new era of an ownership that’s money-conscious would sign a closer to an $86 million contract.
That’s what the Yankees did with Aroldis Chapman after trading for the left-hander. They acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds before the 2016 season and then unloaded him to the Chicago Cubs in the trade that landed them Gleyber Torres. That’s where it all should have stopped.
Sure, Chapman has been a great closer for the Yankees, recording a 2.51 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 111 saves and 291 strikeouts in 198 games, but with all the work general manager Brian Cashman has done with the bullpen over the last couple years, that money could’ve been used for other areas of need.
In the middle of that $86 million deal, the Yankees amended his contract to then become a three-year, $48 million contract, which means the team will have invested about $100 million in the left-hander from 2017-2022 (though the pandemic in 2020 obviously brings that number down).
But really? $100 million for a closer? And paying $150 million for a starter like Patrick Corbin was too much money? Come on. This franchise has been dealing with rotation issues for a decade, and while Gerrit Cole helped alleviate those concerns, the Yankees could’ve put themselves in a much better position to build an elite unit over the last five years or so.
Let’s also not forget trading for Chapman was an entirely bad look for the Yanks. He was acquired when his price tag in trade talks plummeted because he was being investigated for a domestic violence dispute with his girlfriend, for which he was eventually suspended 30 games.
And when you look at Chapman’s tenure, yes, the overall body of work speaks for itself, but he’s really been responsible for some of the worst losses that are ingrained in Yankees fans’ minds. Rafael Devers’ game-tying blast at Yankee Stadium on Sunday Night Baseball back in 2017 after which he lost the closer job!; blowing Game 2 of the 2017 ALCS, which the Yankees lost in seven games; Jose Altuve’s ALCS-clinching walk-off homer in 2019. That’s honestly enough to recount — though the Astros were probably cheating in both of those games. Then again, when two of those come in paramount postseason games, it’s undoubtedly bad.
Cashman has since added Zack Britton (who’s more of a closer than a setup man, anyway) and Adam Ottavino in addition to trading for Chad Green in the same offseason the team landed Chapman. This was on top of having Dellin Betances on the roster and acquiring David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle in a 2017 trade with the White Sox.
Has Aroldis Chapman helped the Yankees and provided stability at the back of the bullpen? Yes! Is he worth $100 million? Definitely not, especially after all the work Cashman has done to improve the unit.