Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is drawing significant interest from multiple teams, according to a report from ESPN’s Buster Olney.
One of the most elite relievers in all of baseball, Aroldis Chapman can now more officially join his teammate, Andrew Miller, on the list of Yankees’ relievers involved in trade speculation.
According to Olney’s report, the Nationals, Rangers, and Indians are among the teams most interested in acquiring Chapman’s services, among others. The list of teams looking for elite relievers is likely much longer, as the Cubs have been tied to Miller earlier in the season. Relievers are typically the most-moved pieces during the trade deadline, with many teams looking for more bullpen security for the postseason push. Furthermore, relievers are less valuable to non competitive teams, making them more expendable assets from their perspective as well.
Rival execs: NYY going full bore in shaping possible deals w/Chapman, etc.; started weeks ago, as reported. Nats, TEX, CLE, others involved.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 19, 2016
Not only are teams interested in acquiring Chapman then, but the Yankees—currently sitting at .500 and fourth-place in the division—have significant incentive to deal him as well.
Most importantly, Chapman was acquired from the Reds this offseason amid substantial controversy. The Yankees traded four very middling prospects for the ace reliever following allegations of a domestic violence incident. While Chapman has served his suspension for this, some teams may still be against employing a player with a history of reprehensible activity—or one may hope most teams would think twice.
For more baseball-related reasons, Chapman could be considered more expendable because the strength of the Yankees’ bullpen without him is still excellent. Miller and Dellin Betances both rank in the top three in FanGraphs’ WAR among relievers in all of baseball.
In his 28.1 innings of work so far this season, Chapman has allowed seven earned runs on 18 hits and eight walks while striking out 40. While that strikeout rate is still impressive, it’s actually down for Chapman. At 36.7 percent, Chapman is down five percentage points on last season and nearly 16 percentage points on the previous season. With that said, his whiff rate is right in line with career norms, and his velocity remains elite.
Whether his trade value is suppressed or not, Chapman’s name will be showing up in trade rumors until at least the trade deadline. Chapman is eligible for free agency following this season, and could represent a rental for a team looking for a postseason push. Furthermore, the Yankees may not have Chapman in their future plans with Miller and Betances being so elite and in more favorable contract situations. Miller is signed through 2018 on a very affordable contract while Betances isn’t eligible for free agency until 2020.
The Yankees have substantial incentive to form a deal that involves Chapman. And if teams are willing to queue up for his services prior to the trade deadline, Brian Cashman and the rest of the Yankees front office could find themselves in a very favorable position.