This offseason, the New York Yankees will have a very tough roster call to make about Chappy. No, not that Chappy.
Slugging third baseman Andres Chaparro will need protection before the offseason Rule 5 Draft, and he’ll require a much more difficult judgment than Aroldis Chapman when all the offseason dust settles.
Chaparro will turn 24 years old next May, and will be entering 2023 after laying waste to Double-A Somerset, with rosier projections still ahead of him. A 23-year-old slugger isn’t typically the kind of player poached when left unprotected; after all, whoever you choose in the Rule 5 has to make the Opening Day roster and stick there, lest they be returned. That means it’s always a lot of relievers and starters who could play up out of the bullpen who get selected.
The Yankees are plenty familiar with the concept of outliers, though. In addition to losing arms like Garrett Whitlock and Trevor Stephan in recent years, they arguably suffered the most ridiculous loss in Rule 5 history after leaving 20-year-old Single-A catcher Luis Torrens unprotected in 2016.
Who in their right mind would elevate a top prospect catcher with zero upper-minors experience directly to the MLB roster, then keep him up the entire season? The 2017 San Diego Padres would! Torrens has become a capable backup in the years since, drilling 15 homers for the 2021 Seattle Mariners.
If teams are occasionally willing to take chances on 20-year-old talent, then they might do it with Chaparro, a more advanced bat.
Yankees 40-man roster: To protect or not protect Andres Chaparro?
The projection systems believe in Chaparro as a 2022 big-leaguer, likely thanks to his 17 homers in just 242 Double-A at-bats this season. All he’s done since pre-pandemic is slug, completely transforming in 2021 (15 bombs, .849 OPS) and 2022 after .597 and .698 OPS marks in ’18 and ’19, repeating Short-Season Staten Island.
Chaparro isn’t the only prospect to find his footing and chart a new path during the year without organized baseball, but his story has firmly put him on the Yankees’ map.
Now, all that’s left to do is take action or take a chance on one of MLB’s many power-needy teams gambling on a clearly-ready bat. With the universal DH in place, it becomes even easier for all 30 teams to select and stash Chaparro, hoping he ignites quickly (while being to absorb the blow if the glove doesn’t match the bat).
The 2022 Yankees proved yet again how important 40-man offensive depth is, cycling through the likes of Ronald Guzmán and Ben Rortvedt, and using every single heathy prospect option a few weeks back outside of Everson Pereira.
Their 40-man prospects will likely get a chance to be elevated next season. Now, it’s up to them to decide whether they value Chaparro more than the rest of MLB does.