We knew that Aroldis Chapman was going to play somewhere in 2016, but the smart money was on him staying in Cincinnati until Commissioner Rob Manfred had decided what to do with an overpowering lefty who shoots up his garage after a physical encounter with his girlfriend. Instead, now, he'll play in the Bronx, after the Yankees sent four mediocre prospects to the Reds for him yesterday. We love to assign winners and losers to a trade, but here there are only losers.
There's been some speculation that what Chapman did wasn't that bad. He wasn't arrested. He didn't injure his girlfriend. No, instead he allegedly put his hands around her neck and pushed her against a wall. Then, after her brother separated them, Chapman, by his own admission, went into his garage to blow off steam. He punched the window of his car, injuring his pitching hand, and then fired seven shots into a concrete wall, and an eighth through a closed window and into a fortunately vacant lot.
Nobody got "hurt" here, per se, but all of it paints the picture of a young man with serious anger control issues who apparently has ready access to a variety of firearms. It suggests that he is potentially unstable, and certainly deprives him of the benefit of the doubt when we think about whether or not he deserves to be punished under Major League Baseball's new, untested domestic violence policy.
The Yankees get a monster power arm for their already excellent bullpen. Chapman will presumably slide into the closer role when he returns from whatever punishment Manfred hands down, with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller taking the seventh and eighth innings. Again and again in 2016, Yankees fans are going to be cheering for a domestic abuser as he closes out a win (this is not to single out Yankees fans; it'd be the same for any team who acquired Chapman). To do that, the Yankees didn't give up much besides the moral high ground and a lot of the dignity that comes from wearing the most iconic uniform in sports.
Brian Cashman has assured fans that the Yankees did their "due diligence" in regards to Chapman and his character. Given what we've seen from other professional sports teams, like the Bears and Ray McDonald or the Cowboys and Greg Hardy, these claims are laughable. Maybe they're true, but it's equally likely that Cashman just talked to Chapman, his agent, the Reds front office, and professional hype man Dusty Baker and called it a day.
There's also still that huge question about what kind of punishment Rob Manfred thinks is appropriate. How much will the Yankees even get to use Chapman? Will he be out for a week? Two? A month? 80 games? We've had two domestic violence incidents this offseason, and still have no sense of what the league's policy is going to be. I'm willing to give the league time to sort these issues out, but that's only if they're actually going to address the problem by levying real punishments against violators. And I worry about the time it apparently takes to do an investigation given that there will inevitably be a domestic violence issue during the regular season at some point in the future.
Meanwhile, the Reds got back close to bupkis for one of the most dynamic bullpen arms in the game. We've seen what value a great closer has in this market, and how a Chapman trade could have restocked their system. Instead, the Reds got a potential back end starter, a decent bullpen option, a constantly injured corner infielder with no glove and a utility man. While I understand the impulse to get Chapman as far away from Cincinnati as possible as quickly as possible, there is no way the Reds are getting close to fair value for the kind of production Chapman can provide. Even holding onto him and either making a deal at the trade deadline or taking the draft pick at the end of 2016 might have been preferable from a baseball perspective.
They say that you know a good deal has been struck when no one walks away happy. This must be the exception that proves the rule, because it's hard to feel good about any of this for anyone involved, and that includes Rob Manfred.