It’s evident in this day and age that teams have to spend more wisely than ever. You can pay a handful of guys the big bucks and have them take up a large percentage of the payroll, but the rest need to be cost-effective.
That’s why the New York Yankees‘ decision to give Aroldis Chapman the third-highest salary on the team behind Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton remains puzzling to this day … and that came after they had an out when he blew Game 6 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros.
Following the 2019 season, Chapman had the opportunity to opt out of the five-year, $86 million contract (they gave him an opt out??) he signed back before the 2017 season. For all the cheapskating the Yankees have done over these last few years, they’ve somehow made Chapman look like a franchise pillar that cannot leave under any circumstances.
In the end, Chapman threatened to opt out unless he was given an extension, and the Yankees caved. They gave him another year valued at $18 million, making it a three-year, $48 million extension ($16 million AAV) AND granted the left-hander a no-trade clause.
Excuse us?! In the podcast above, we actually talked about how he no longer had a no-trade clause, which was true under his five-year deal. But the Yankees scrapped it, gave him more money, and gave him more freedom.
This was after the worst postseason defeat since 2004 and when it was evident Chapman’s velocity — his calling card as a closer — was declining.
Why did the Yankees give Aroldis Chapman a full no-trade clause?
For a team that sure hates to pay for regression, they stared regression right in the face, gave it a raise, and then provided him with even less of a reason to eventually leave.
Though it actually ended up stabilizing the bullpen in a sense due to countless injuries and regressions, the Yankees still made this decision despite also rostering Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle and Chad Green, all of whom possessed the capability to close games.
In the end, their obsession with building the perfect bullpen was a colossal waste of money. Britton will hardly pitch the final two years of his contract; Green was burnt out in 2021 and we don’t know what to expect in 2022; Ottavino was traded to the Red Sox before the 2021 season; and Chapman is far from the lights-out flamethrower he once was.
Another frustrating aspect of this is that the Yankees have made a living off finding cheap bullpen arms and have capitalized on that in recent years. Spending a prohibitive amount of their self-imposed budget on a player who will see the field for 50-60 innings per year and forcibly tying themselves to him despite seeing the warning signs is the exact reason fans are incessantly complaining about the decision making.
Maybe just name Jonathan Loaisiga the closer in spring training, make Chapman force a trade, and revamp the bullpen for 2022? That’d be a hell of a story to follow.