New York Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman is off the team’s playoff roster for the American League Division Series, the team announced today, and it seems highly unlikely Chapman will be on the playoff roster for any subsequent series.
Chapman, who has had a rough season, putting up a 4.46 ERA in 36.1 IP and missing time on the injured list due to an infected tattoo, was not a given to be on the ALDS roster for the Yankees, who earned a bye in the first round by virtue of having one of the two best records in the American League. However, Chapman did not appear at a workout at Yankee Stadium on Friday, when he was supposed to throw live batting practice, and that appears to have been the final straw.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that Chapman was absent with “not an acceptable excuse,” while Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is quoted as saying “There’s some questions about whether he’s been all in or not for a little while.” Per the New York Post article linked, “Chapman is currently in Miami after the Yankees asked him to stay away from the team for now.”
The Yankees’ bullpen situation is in a bit of a state of flux currently. Chapman started the year in the closer role he has held down for the Yanks since 2017, but was replaced by Clay Holmes in May. Holmes was untouchable for the first three months of the season, taking a 0.46 ERA into early July and a 1.20 ERA into the final day of July. From July 31 through season’s end, however, Holmes has put up a 5.79 ERA in 18.2 IP over 18 games, and spent time on the injured list in late August. The Yankees used a few different guys to finish games over the final month of the season, and there are some health issues with a few of their relievers, meaning its an open question as to who will be asked to pitch the ninth in the ALDS.
We know it won’t be Chapman, though, who appears to reached a rather ignomious end to his second stint in pinstripes. The Yankees first acquired Chapman in December, 2015, from the Cincinnati Reds for an underwhelming four player package headed up by former first round pick Eric Jagielo. The Reds originally had an agreement in place to send Chapman to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but that deal was nixed after word came out of an incident in October, 2015, where Chapman was accused of laying hands on his girlfriend and firing a gun. Chapman was suspended for thirty games for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy, the first player to be suspended under that policy.
The Yankees ended up out of the playoff hunt at the trade deadline, and with Chapman set to be a free agent after the 2016 season, the Yankees sent him to the Chicago Cubs for a four player package headed up by Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney. Chapman ended up pitching in 13 games for the Cubs in the postseason, including Game 7 of the World Series, when he came on in relief of Jon Lester with one on and two out in the bottom of the eighth with a 6-3 lead and promptly gave up a Brandon Guyer double and a Rajai Davis homer to tie the game. Chapman ended up getting credited as the winning pitcher after the Cubs came back to win it in 10th.
After the season, Chapman signed with the Yankees as a free agent, and has been with New York since. Chapman is in the final year of a three year deal, and is set to hit the market this offseason. It will be interesting to see what is out there for him — his walk and home run rates have been up the past couple of years, and it seems unlikely a team is going to sign him and immediately anoint him their closer, which means he’d likely have to accept a setup or middle relief role.
This unpleasant ending to his time in New York won’t help his market, either.