Already at this early point in the offseason, Yankees exec Brian Cashman confirms that the team has been in touch with former closer Aroldis Chapman, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes. Cashman has been in contact with representatives of other players as well, and seems to be focusing on pitching this offseason.
“There are certainly some names out there that are pretty good,” Cashman says. “It’s probably a thin starting pitching market, there are a number of different relievers in the market; certainly more relievers in this free agency than there are starters of quality. The trade route is obviously an area we’ll see what develops over time.”
The Yankees, of course, traded four players to the Reds for Cashman last offseason, and he posted a 2.01 ERA, 12.6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and 20 saves in 31 1/3 innings with New York before heading to Chicago for a package headlined by top infield prospect Gleyber Torres. Chapman was then even more dominant for the Cubs, becoming a key part of their route to the World Series.
The Yankees finished the season with Dellin Betances as their closer, and Betances struggled in the last few weeks of the season (although, like many players who started the 2016 campaign in the Yankees’ bullpen, he had a very strong year overall. Cashman says his interest in Chapman (and, perhaps, in other top relief targets) is not closely related to Betances’ performance as closer. Rather, Cashman says he just wants to add more good players. Last year’s excellent bullpen headed by Chapman, Betances and Andrew Miller perhaps shows that it’s hard to have too much of a good thing.
“I just want to bring in more talent,” Cashman says. “It’s too early to say who’s going to do what; it depends how the winter goes. [Betances] finished the season as our closer, so until or unless I find something better — which is pretty hard to do — he would be the closer if the season started today. But it’s not.”
Cashman also says he would like to add to the Yankees’ existing rotation talent, which includes Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia alongside a long list of less established possibilities.
“I’d rather have certainty,” says Cashman. “I’d rather feel like we have one of the best rotations in the game and I’d like to have one of the best bullpens in the game. It’s going to take some time, and in some cases, some growing pains.”