Three weeks ago it seemed like the holiday season came early in New York.
With the Yankees needing a second baseman who could hit above the Mendoza line, GM Brian Cashman went out and acquired Starlin Castro from the Cubs in exchange for Adam Warren and a player to be named later. The 25-year-old Castro was just what New York needed – a young, energetic player, who has the both personality and the talent to put fans in the seats. Cap that off with the player to be named later turning out to be Brendan Ryan – who has since been cut from Chicago – and Brian Cashman was suddenly silencing his critics.
Now, within the past few hours, the Yankees and Brian Cashman have landed another key piece to the 2016 Yankee roster – another one that seems to have fallen right into their laps.
According to multiple reports, New York has acquired Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for 4 minor league players – none of which are considered one of their top 15 prospects according to Baseball America.
And if you believe the numbers, this trade is set to make the Yankees bullpen one of greatest of all-time.
Chapman now joins both Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances at the end of a Yankees bullpen that was the glue to their first postseason appearance in three years. The new Yankee trio combined to post a 1.70 ERA with 347 strikeouts and only 121 hits over 212 innings. Those 347 combined strikeouts for three relievers rank 2nd of all-time behind Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble, and Randy Myers who posted 351 K’s in 1990 with the Reds in route to a World Championship.
The addition of Aroldis Chapman gives the Yankees the ability to take the game on from a little league perspective – playing a 6 inning game before handing the ball to three of the most explosive arms in baseball for only one inning each. And it could be even better for theYanks if necessary. We have alrady seen Joe Girardi’s willingness to use Dellin Betances for multiple innings, which in this situation, would only require Yankee starters to pitch the five innings in a pinch.
However, there is a reason why Brian Cashman was able to get the flame throwing lefty for so cheap. Chapman is currently under investigation for a domestic violence incident that recently took place involving him and his girlfriend. In fact, it looked as if he would be wearing a Dodgers uniform in 2016 before Los Angeles backed out of their trade with the Reds after the news was released.
With awareness of and attention to domestic violence issues around the sports world, Major League Baseball certainly seems as if they will issue a suspension towards Chapman following the conclusion of the investigation – even though Chapman has not been arrested nor charged of a crime. Cashman has stated that the Yankees have done their homework and realizes that a possible suspension looms in the future, but as we have seen in the NFL with Greg Hardy, production takes precedent.
Following the trade, the immediate question was the future of Andrew Miller with the Yankees and whether or not we would even see this historic trio of relievers pitch together. Rumors have flown throughout the offseason, suggesting that Miller could be dealt for starting pitching, but Brian Cashman was quick to address the issue by telling reporters that their starting rotation was set and so is Andrew Miller’s spot on the Yankee roster.
Which raises another question, who’s the closer? I expect Girardi to act like he has no idea, but there’s no doubt, he has it all mapped out. With two dominate lefties in the bullpen in Miller and Chapman, don’t be surprised if Betances holds onto the 8th inning, to keep opponents from stacking right handed hitters in the last two innings. If Girardi decided to go by his book ,then I would think we would see Miller enter first and Chapman closing games – the guy is the only player in MLB history with four seasons of 30 saves and 100 K’s, each in the past four years.
Consistency is what you want out of that role, isn’t it?
So there you have it, the only three relievers with at least 100 strikeouts in all of baseball last year are now together on the same team – and not just any team – the New York Yankees. The same team that went 81-32, last season, in games in which they scored at least three runs.
Now add Chapman into the mix, three runs a game might be all the Yankees need in all of 2016.
Author: Dave Russell
Dave Russell is a New York Yankees, Knicks, and Rangers fan who hopes to witness his beloved Philadelphia Eagles win a Super Bowl. You can follow him on Twitter @DRuss_7.