What Does This Mean For The Rebuild?
The signing of a $86 million closer in the midst of a rebuild brings the direction of it into serious question.
Even with Chapman’s contract on the books, New York may still be able to reach their goal of getting under the luxury tax threshold by 2018.
However, $17.2 million for a closer with little to no promise that his 99 m.ph. average fastball will still be blowing up radar guns when the Yankees are ready to compete is just flat-out dangerous.
Especially when the rotation — which finished tenth in the AL with a 4.44 ERA — and middle relief unit haven’t been upgraded in any way shape or form.
Or how about an offense cluttered with question marks? No one is quite sure how much Matt Holliday will contribute but the Yankees are still banking on Gary Sanchez to continue his surge, Greg Bird to recover flawlessly and Aaron Judge to figure things out.
So, sure, it’s admittedly is fun to have a lights-out closer and nasty set-up man, but even the three-headed monster wasn’t beneficial when the offense, rotation and other relievers can’t get the ball in their hands.
And this move was highly influenced by an unsupported theory that three-time All-Star Dellin Betances — who owns a .166 batting average against since 2014 — couldn’t get the job done as a closer with a capable setup man in Tyler Clippard behind him.
Speaking of Betances, if he proves his last September was nothing but a fluke, the cost will be too much to pay both he and Chapman by the time Betances hits the market in 2019 — when New York will be primed to compete.
It’s not all corrupt. Like I said, Chapman is the genuinely the best closer this game has to offer and when you throw in the haul only to bring Chapman back as a free agent was astonishingly intelligent.
However, the Yankees are nowhere near a World Series at this moment. And while throughout the five years Chapman is here — which includes a full no-trade clause for the first three years and a limited no-trade in his final years — they might be, overpaying in years, money and the inability to perceive if he’ll be elite as he’s been for five years hinders that chance.
This might be a move that comes back to bite them… Or it may not.
Part of what makes Chapman so good is his ability to shorten the distance between the mound and home plate while using his powerful lower body to heave the ball 105 m.p.h.
If you watch closely, there is very little torque that goes on his left arm. So although one can attest that he will flare out, one can’t be sure he won’t as well.
In the end, we’ll have to see this play out. There are a lot of positives to consider and a lot of negatives that may persuade one to declare this a failure already.
Yes, the rebuilding Yankees just gave a closer $86 million and a ton of commitment and while that seems absurd, we have five years to revisit the question and validate an answer.