The story of Aroldis Chapman's quest to be traded away from Kansas City at the deadline and to a contender can best be summed up in a personal anecdote from Saturday night in New York.
At a sports bar with friends, I gestured at the television in the far corner, where Chapman was taking the mound for the Royals against the Angels on the road. I tapped a friend on the shoulder and alerted him to what could potentially be an interesting schadenfreude opportunity.
"He's not on the Yankees anymore?" my friend asked. Midway through my lengthy explanation of how and why Chapman left the Yankees, as well as the misdeeds he was associated with during his time here, the friend interrupted me to announce, "Well, he just struck out Mike Trout." So it goes.
And so it's gone repeatedly for Chapman thus far in 2023. Through his first eight games, Chapman's thrown eight shutout innings, whiffing 15, allowing two hits, and somehow walking just a pair. He's already been worth 0.6 WAR. He's hitting 103 and 104. He's just as good, if not better, than he was in any Yankees stretch. In fact, it's been reminiscent of his first 11 outings of 2021, when he developed a "splitter" that was supposed to revolutionize our lives.
That stretch? 11 innings (he completed a single inning each time), 26 Ks (three each in his first three innings), two hits and three walks allowed.
Former Yankees Alert: Freaking Aroldis Chapman, man
The best part, though? Any Yankee fan worth their salt knows the implosion is coming. This time, we won't have to bear the brunt of it. We might even be lucky enough to witness his downfall on a contending team like the Dodgers later in the summer, a team that considered him once upon a time before the Yankees swooped in and completed the trade (and then the free agent signing, and then the contract restructuring/semi-extension...).
Even by the end of 2021, his ERA was back up to 3.36. Hell, by midsummer, he was "cooked," giving up the "nail in the coffin" home run to Pete Alonso on July 4 to raise his ERA to 4.71 (coincidentally, that was the same day his All-Star roster spot was announced).
Not a single sliver of my soul misses Chapman in any capacity, which will remain true even if he's somehow able to sustain this velocity and production through the entire 2023 season (and yes, his spin rate is way, way, way suspiciously up).
That said, he's thriving to a degree in Kansas City that I certainly thought he'd left in the distant past. They have an asset on their hands after all, no matter how sticky those hands may be upon further inspection.