Six-and-a-half years later, the New York Yankees have finally called it quits on Aroldis Chapman.
This was inevitable, particularly after the former star closer’s horrific 2022 season. Chapman posted a career-worst 4.46 ERA with nine saves and battled numerous injuries from Achilles tendinitis to an infected tattoo. In the meantime, Clay Holmes and his $1.1 million salary emerged as an All-Star closer.
Chapman, on the other hand, became so disengaged from the team that he’s not even on New York’s ALDS roster. Manager Aaron Boone announced Sunday the veteran lefty missed a mandatory workout on Friday and has been sent home.
The timing of this could not be worse for Chapman. He’ll be a free agent this offseason and even sought an extension in April. Safe to say, the Yankees won’t be giving him anything for a long time except maybe a modest farewell gift basket.
So what’s next for the man once called the Cuban Missile? He’ll be 35 on Opening Day and isn’t the same pitcher anymore. His command is shot. FanGraphs shows his average fastball velocity has trended downward since returning to the Yankees in 2017.
This means that whatever the market for Aroldis Chapman is, he’s not getting more than a one-year deal.
And even then, who would want him? Remember, even when Chapman is at his best, there’s always one 2-4 week stretch of the season where it seems he just can’t pitch. For context, his career ERA May-June is 3.49. The rest of the season, he pitches to a stellar 2.03 mark.
Think about that for a second. May and June are, in the big picture, meaningless games. But for a team that is either a Wild Card contender or plays in a hard division, as the Yankees do in the AL East, those close losses start to add up. Games that don’t count in a given moment wind up counting more later on.
That said, especially given his recent track record, would you trust Aroldis Chapman in a close game at any point in the season? Or the playoffs? The risk of losing his fastball command or hanging a slider is too great.
But independent of the numbers, Chapman carries yet another red flag now. Because of this little stunt he pulled with no-showing the Yankees, there are now officially questions about him as a teammate. Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reported that up until struggling this year, Chapman enjoyed the privilege of working out on his own and not with the rest of the bullpen staff. Once that changed, he checked out.
At the end of the day, it’s more likely Chapman is playing baseball next year than he isn’t. Enough teams need the bullpen help that he should field a small handful of one-year offers.
But wherever he winds up, one thing is certain: Aroldis Chapman will officially receive his last chance in 2023.