The Yankees will enter their season Thursday missing their top reliever, closer Aroldis Chapman, who tested postive for the coronavirus July 11. Almost two weeks later, it remains unclear when Chapman will be able to debut in 2020, as general manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday (via Dan Martin of the New York Post) that the left-hander has “been testing positive since he’s been diagnosed.” Chapman has been “mostly symptom-free,” according to Cashman, but he’ll need two negative tests before he’s eligible to rejoin the club.
One of the most dominant relievers in baseball history, the 32-year-old Chapman held his own yet again in 2019 with 57 innings of 2.21 ERA/2.28 FIP ball and 13.42 K/9 against 3.95 BB/9. He also racked up 37 saves, giving him 273 since his career began with the Reds in 2010. Chapman could have opted out of the last two years and $30MM of his previous contract over the winter, but the Yankees prevented him from leaving by tacking on an extra season worth $18MM.
With Chapman unavailable for the time being, Cashman admitted the Yankees’ depth “is gonna be tested once again right out of the gate.” The World Series hopefuls do have at least a few other capable late-game options, though. That includes Zack Britton, who has accumulated 145 career saves and will fill in for Chapman. The Yankees also boast accomplished setup men in Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle and Chad Green.