Will the Yankees need to find a new closer?

November 3rd, 2019

NEW YORK -- ’s final pitch of the 2019 season was slugged over the left-field wall at Minute Maid Park, securing the American League pennant for José Altuve and the Astros. Could his next be in a different uniform?

Chapman had until 12:01 a.m. ET on Sunday to determine if he will opt out of the remaining two years and $30 million on the five-year, $86 million pact he signed with the Yankees prior to the 2017 season. Chapman, who turns 32 in February, is believed to be interested in an extension.

Should Chapman opt out, the Yankees are almost certain to issue him a qualifying offer valued at $17.8 million for one year. Chapman would likely reject that, ensuring that New York could receive Draft compensation in the event he signs elsewhere.

Despite serving up Altuve’s walk-off homer in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series, Chapman enjoyed a productive season in which he was selected as an All-Star for the sixth time in his career (second in the AL) and honored with the Mariano Rivera Award as the AL’s top reliever.

Chapman posted a 2.21 ERA in 60 appearances this season and converted 37 of 42 save opportunities. He ranked fourth among AL relievers with a 13.42 K/9.0 IP ratio (85 strikeouts in 57 innings). Chapman struck out 36.2 percent of the 235 batters he faced.

In July, Chapman denied a report that suggested he had already decided to opt out of his contract. Asked about his clause in the wake of the ALCS loss to Houston, Chapman replied: “That’s a topic for another time.”

The Yankees could absorb a potential Chapman departure by elevating left-hander to the closer’s role, heading a still-strong group that projects to include , and .

It has been suggested that they could incorporate those salary savings into the pursuit of starting pitching, with right-hander Gerrit Cole standing tall as the most prized target of the offseason.

In his end-of-season press conference, general manager Brian Cashman characterized Chapman’s situation as “sensitive.”

“He'll have decisions to make,” Cashman said. “That date is coming, and we'll see what happens between now and then. I don't want to speculate on alternative options when I currently don't have to. I don’t think that's healthy to the process.”