Left-hander Aroldis Chapman has finished serving his 30-game suspension, as the Yankees announced prior to tonight’s contest that Chapman has been activated from the restricted list. Right-hander Johnny Barbato has been optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in order to clear a spot on the 25-man roster, and righty Branden Pinder, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this season, has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list in order to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Chapman’s reinstatement.
Chapman, 28, was suspended by commissioner Rob Manfred under the newly implemented domestic violence issue for an offseason incident in which Chapman was alleged to have struck his girlfriend and discharged a firearm while alone in his garage. Charges were never filed, however, and witnesses never offered any evidence that corroborated the initial allegations. Eventually, Chapman’s girlfriend offered a different account of the evening, stating that she didn’t recall saying Chapman had struck her, adding that she only heard one gunshot (after originally alleging eight shots were fired) and wasn’t sure if it was Chapman who discharged the firearm. Because criminal charges were never filed, Chapman did not face a trial.
The exact events of the night in question won’t ever be known to any but the involved parties, but Manfred seemed convinced of the fact that Chapman did indeed fire the weapon in his garage, saying in a statement at the time that the pitcher’s behavior was “inappropriate … particularly his use of a firearm and the impact of that behavior on his partner.” Chapman accepted the 30-game ban without appeal, issuing a statement in which he said: “I want to be clear, I did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening. However, I should have exercised better judgment with respect to certain actions, and for that I am sorry. The decision to accept a suspension, as opposed to appealing one, was made after careful consideration. I made this decision in an effort to minimize the distractions that an appeal would cause the Yankees, my new teammates and most importantly, my family.”
With Chapman’s suspension complete, he’ll now join left-hander Andrew Miller and right-hander Dellin Betances to form what many expect to be a bullpen trio that will be as formidable as any in big league history. Miller, who has been acting as the closer but will step down into a setup role with Chapman in the picture, has yet to allow a run in 11 2/3 innings while posting a 20-to-1 K/BB ratio. Betances, meanwhile, has an outrageous 27-to-3 K/BB ratio in 14 innings, though he’s yielded four runs (due to three homers) and has a 2.57 ERA as a result. Last season, Chapman, Miller and Betances led all qualified relievers in K/9 (in that order), and they constituted three of the top four relievers in baseball in terms of pure strikeout percentage (Kenley Jansen slipped ahead of Betances to rank third).
Chapman is earning $11.35MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the final time this winter, but he lost $1.865MM of that salary as a result of the unpaid nature of his suspension. He’s slated to reach free agency at season’s end, where he’ll join Jansen and Mark Melancon atop a strong class of free-agent relievers.