Reports indicate that the Yankees have reached an agreement to keep closer Aroldis Chapman in pinstripes through 2022. New York will add a third year valued at $18MM in addition to the two years and $30MM that remained on Chapman’s previous contract with the club, bringing its total commitment to the hurler to $48MM over the next three seasons, according to reporting from ESPN’s Jeff Passan (link).
Chapman had been facing a Saturday deadline on an opt-out decision regarding the remaining two seasons on the five-year contract he signed with the club prior to the 2017 season, but the addition of a third season has apparently persuaded him to forego open market opportunities. His original deal with New York represented the largest guarantee ($86MM) ever given to a free agent reliever, and this extension promises to bring Chapman’s six-year Yankees outlay to a whopping $104MM.
Our own Steve Adams predicted on Friday that a three-year deal would be the 31-year-old pitcher’s most likely free agency outcome if Chapman’s representatives at Magnus Sports had been unable to reach an extension accord with New York. That both club and agency were able to come to an agreement should be a boon to the Yankees bullpen, being that Chapman’s presence will allow fellow relievers Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, and Chad Green to remain in the roles they held in 2019. And that’s before accounting for the Cuban native’s personal performance.
In 2019, Chapman, though not exactly the radar gun-breaking flamethrower he once was, recorded superlative numbers by pretty much any measure. He posted 57 innings — his most since signing with New York — en route to a sparkling 2.21 ERA; his 13.4 K/9 rate and 0.47 HR/9 rate were also ready evidence of the lefthander’s late-inning dominance. Working in the tight confines of Yankee Stadium, Chapman recorded 37 saves–his seventh time in the last eight seasons eclipsing the 30-save plateau.
Had Chapman chosen to forego the remaining two years on his deal, he would have in all likelihood entered free agency with a $17.8MM qualifying offer attached to his name. Last offseason saw another great closer of the current era, Craig Kimbrel, remain on the open market well into the regular season after being attached to a QO, so it’s fair to wonder whether that spectacle encouraged Chapman to remain with the bird in hand. Regardless, tonight’s development marks a continued union between arguably the game’s best closer and a team that has in recent years come tantalizingly close to postseason paydirt.
With Chapman off the board, names like Will Harris, Will Smith, Daniel Hudson, and Dellin Betances likely represent the upper end of the 2019-2020 free agent relief class. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently took a look at some of this winter’s most interesting free agent bullpen arms.