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Inbox: How will Chapman alter Yanks' bullpen?

Beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers questions from fans
January 3, 2016

With Aroldis Chapman aboard, is there any chance of moving anyone from the back end of the bullpen into the rotation? -- Tyler N., PittsburghOn a conference call announcing the trade last week, general manager Brian Cashman said that the move was made with the intent of having a three-headed

With Aroldis Chapman aboard, is there any chance of moving anyone from the back end of the bullpen into the rotation?
-- Tyler N., Pittsburgh

On a conference call announcing the trade last week, general manager Brian Cashman said that the move was made with the intent of having a three-headed monster of Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances shortening games from the back end of the bullpen. The Yankees would still love to make an upgrade to the rotation, but all three relievers have found a good amount of success in the late innings and there is no reason to believe that the team has designs on moving that around.
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As a little bit of background on Chapman, the Reds toyed with the idea of converting Chapman back into a starter in recent years. Bryan Price, the pitching coach at the time, and team president Walt Jocketty were said to be proponents of the move, while former manager Dusty Baker preferred to keep Chapman in the closer's role, believing that gave the Reds their best chance of contending. Ultimately, Chapman said that he was tired of the annual speculation and shut it down by saying that he wanted to be in the bullpen.
Adding to the equation is the uncertainty about Chapman's situation following the allegations of domestic violence; though the Yankees have said they performed due diligence regarding what they would be handling, they must be prepared for the possibility that Chapman will serve a suspension for part of the 2016 season. Because of that, it's likely that Miller and/or Betances will need to be ready to pick up at least a few save opportunities somewhere along the line.
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Did the Yankees get Chapman for a bargain? I believe the Yankees could have the best bullpen in the Majors with Chapman, Betances and Miller, assuming we don't trade him.
-- Neil G., Croton on Hudson, N.Y.

Cashman acknowledged as much, saying that the "price point on acquisition had been modified" because of Chapman's off-field issues. The Yankees had been in contact with the Reds about Chapman several times over the last few years, most recently at the 2015 Trade Deadline (when they were also chasing Craig Kimbrel, trying to bulk up the bullpen), but kept bumping up against the insistence of including some of the so-called "untouchable" prospects like outfielder Aaron Judge and right-hander Luis Severino.
Scouts evaluating the trade have said that it was essentially infielder Eric Jagielo and right-hander Rookie Davis for Chapman, with right-hander Caleb Cotham and infielder Tony Renda viewed as throw-ins. Jagielo could be a big league regular, though there's question if he can stick at third base, and Davis may be a back-end starter. Bottom line: for a four-time All-Star closer, the Yankees wouldn't have even been in the ballpark with that offer if there weren't -- as Cashman said -- "serious issues here that are in play."
Do you still think that there's a chance that the Yanks will trade Brett Gardner at some point?
-- Andrew B., Boca Raton, Fla.

Yes, Gardner isn't out of the woods yet. There's still plenty of time on the clock between now and Opening Day, and if the Yankees really are intent on keeping Miller as part of that super-bullpen, dealing Gardner may be the only way to upgrade the starting pitching.
Cashman said that, financially, he doesn't need to make a move to accommodate Chapman because principal owner Hal Steinbrenner authorized the extra payroll. Still, Gardner is 32 years old and signed through age 35 with $39 million remaining -- a contract just appealing enough to keep the phones buzzing as camp approaches. Aaron Hicks provides them with a safety net of sorts if they want to move Gardner.
As CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, and Alex Rodriguez's contracts wind down, if they have good closing years, performance-wise, will the team be tempted to offer a series of one-year contracts like Andy Pettitte got or will they just cut the ties?
-- Chip H., via email

It's no secret that the Yankees are running out the clock on those commitments, with Beltran and Teixeira coming off the books after 2016. Since they are focused on getting younger and more flexible while Judge and Greg Bird knock on the big league door, it's quite likely that this will be the final year in pinstripes for Beltran and Teixeira. Beltran has already said that he will consider retirement after '16.
Assuming Sabathia doesn't go on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, his contract will run through 2017, as will Rodriguez's. A-Rod is an interesting case: who would have predicted what we saw in '15? If he gets through the next two years healthy and productive in this DH role, I could see him wanting to play as long as he can, but it'd probably be in someone else's uniform by then.
Of the group you mentioned, I'll say the most likely player to return on a short-term contract is Sabathia because of the value placed upon starting pitching in the current market. (Heck, Rich Hill just got one year and $6 million from Oakland.) Sabathia will only be 37 years old in 2017 -- or four years younger than Pettitte was in his final season -- though it's still a long shot considering Sabathia's degenerative knee condition.
Do you think the Yankees would ever make the move for new uniforms in the future?
-- Chassiddy G., New Britain, Conn.

My initial reaction was to say no, but upon further review, I'm going to say it's not impossible to see an alternate jersey introduced at some point in the future. They have been getting more creative with their Spring Training and batting-practice uniforms, and in May 2014, the Yankees even used their batting-practice caps in a big league game. They've also been wearing camouflage and alternate colored caps on holidays over the past few seasons. That all would have been unthinkable a decade ago.
The Yankees will always have the pinstripes and road gray hanging in their clubhouse, but other teams with "classic" uniforms like the Dodgers, Tigers, Cardinals and Red Sox have introduced alternates without the world coming to a halt. And seeing the Yankees dressed in something else isn't necessarily even a new idea.
Marty Appel, the longtime Yankees public-relations director, has recalled a day when he walked into the GM's office and saw samples of new Yankees road uniforms draped over a sofa. They were the opposite of the home pinstripes -- navy blue with white pinstripes, and with the "NY" logo in white. They never made it to the field, but that was in 1974! Never say never.
Luis Cessa and Chad Green were the No. 6 and No. 19 prospects within the Tigers organization, respectively, but where do they fit within the list of Yankees starting-pitching prospects?
-- Lee J., England has updated their rankings of the Yankees' system in the wake of the Justin Wilson trade, and they slotted Cessa as New York's No. 16 prospect -- three slots behind Bryan Mitchell, who will probably slot ahead of Cessa if and when the Yankees inevitably need a spot starter. Green didn't crack the Yanks' top 30; Cessa and Green are both expected to begin the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.