Source: Yankees, Chapman agree to deal
Closer loves organization, says it 'welcomed me with open arms'
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Aroldis Chapman and his triple-digit fastball are heading back to the Bronx, as the left-handed closer has agreed to a five-year, $86 million contract with the Yankees on Wednesday night, a source told MLB.com.
The Yankees have not officially announced the signing, as Chapman must still pass a physical to finalize the agreement. Chapman told ESPN's Marly Rivera that his positive experiences playing in New York earlier this year pushed him to sign on for an encore performance.
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"I love the [Yankees'] organization," Chapman said. "They welcomed me with open arms, and that's why I decided to go back. I was hoping I had a chance to go back, and it happened."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had repeatedly stated that one of his offseason priorities was to work out a deal with Chapman, who posted a 2.01 ERA with 20 saves for New York last season before helping the Cubs snap their 108-year World Series championship drought.
"Chapman can handle New York. That was not in question," Cashman said following Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. "He came through, he proved that. There's an attractiveness to his availability in the marketplace because he didn't have a Draft pick attached to him. We know him and that's why we focused on him a little bit more than others."
Chapman's deal exceeds a pact agreed to this week by right-hander Mark Melancon, who reached a four-year, $62 million agreement with the Giants. Entering this offseason, the record was held by Jonathan Papelbon's four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies (2012-15).
Chapman is only the second free-agent reliever to get a five-year deal since 1990. The other was B.J. Ryan, who signed for $47 million over five years with the Blue Jays following the 2005 season.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reports that Chapman's contract includes an opt-out clause after the 2019 season, a full no-trade clause for the first three years and a limited no-trade for the final two seasons. ESPN added that Chapman cannot be dealt to a California team.
"At the end of the day, I know that the competition that we're up with were giving opt-outs in Year 1 and 2," Cashman said. "At least we were able to put it in Year 3."
Speaking often with Chapman's agent, Barry Praver, the Yankees believed that there was mutual interest to reach a deal with the game's hardest thrower, but they covered their bases by also tendering an offer to free agent Kenley Jansen. Signing Jansen would have forced the Yanks to surrender the 16th pick in the 2017 MLB Draft.
The deal restores right-hander Dellin Betances to a setup role behind Chapman, who owns a 23-21 record, a 2.08 ERA and 182 saves in 383 Major League appearances. Betances was 3-6 with a 3.08 ERA in 73 appearances, striking out 126 batters in 73 innings.
"I know Dellin is looking forward to being on the best team he can possibly be on," Cashman said. "If that means pitching before the ninth, I don't think that would be an issue for him in any way, shape or form. He's done that most of his career."
A product of Cuba, Chapman began his career with the Reds, who traded him to New York following the 2015 season. He served a 30-game suspension for violation of Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy, making his '16 season debut on May 9. Teammates viewed Chapman as committed, quiet and a hard worker.
With the Yankees faltering in late July, Chapman was traded to the Cubs for a four-player package that included 19-year-old infielder Gleyber Torres, who was the MVP of the Arizona Fall League and is ranked as New York's No. 2 prospect by MLBPipeline.com.
Chapman appeared in 28 games for Chicago, logging a 1.01 ERA with 16 saves, then fired 15 2/3 postseason innings while appearing in five of the seven World Series games. Cashman also said that Chapman has proved that he is fit to play under Gotham's bright lights.
"I have no concerns about his mental toughness," Cashman said. "We saw that in New York. It just comes down to, will he maintain his health and performance levels? If he does that, then he'll be one of the elite closers throughout the contract. There's nothing else that would derail him."
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
With stellar lifetime numbers (2.08 ERA, 0.99 WHIP) and an eye-popping career 15.2 K/9 rate, Chapman will be the first closer off the board in many 2017 drafts. Fantasy owners should expect the southpaw to be one of the few firemen to finish near 40 saves and 100 strikeouts next season. Chapman's return to the Bronx will push Dellin Betances back to a setup role. Although Betances won't be able to compile saves, the right-hander should be selected in all mixed leagues on the expectation that he will provide low ratios and roughly 130 whiffs.