The Yankees have recently been connected to several former Yankee pitchers this offseason. We’ve heard that they want to bring Aroldis Chapman back and have shown some interest in lefty Boone Logan too. There is also another former Yankee available who the Yankees know well. Joba Chamberlain was released by the Cleveland Indians on July 10th last season but he is reportedly working out and throwing for teams now. The Yankees will probably do their due diligence and scout him but a reunion really doesn’t seem like a good idea for either party.
Ten years ago, the Yankees drafted Joba Chamberlain with a supplemental draft pick that they received as compensation for Tom Gordon signing with the Philadelphia Phillies. Most Yankees fans know the rest of the story from here. He moved up incredibly fast through the system and was an excellent reliever in 2007, his first year of professional baseball. They still viewed him as a starter and he bounced back and forth between starting and relieving over the next six seasons.
After departing New York, Chamberlain pitched well for the Tigers with a 3.57 ERA in 63 innings. The next season, he split between Detroit and Kansas City but struggled in both locations. This past season, he ended up with the Cleveland Indians who eventually went on to make the World Series. Unfortunately for Chamberlain, he was released by the team long before the playoff run started.
Despite not pitching more than 20 innings in Cleveland, Chamberlain will probably catch on with a team this offseason in search of bullpen help. With Cleveland, he had a 2.25 ERA in those 20 innings, and he only just turned 31 years old.
In theory, Chamberlain would be a good match for the Yankees because he is a low-cost veteran who the Yankees would typically be interested in. There is just too much painful history (the midge game, the Derek Jeter HBP) for this to end well though. Chamberlain was such a highly touted prospect who had great early success that it really put an enormous amount of pressure on him to live up to expectations and he wasn’t able to.
One of my favorite Chamberlain moments happened on July 25, 2008. Chamberlain went up against Josh Beckett (who was in the prime of his career) in Boston and threw seven innings without giving up a run. The Yankees won the game 1-0 on a Jason Giambi RBI. Chamberlain was electric that night and it was a thrilling win for the team. I hope that he gets another shot on a team and can recapture some of that glory again. I just hope that both Chamberlain and the Yankees decide it would be best not to dig up those old memories of him trying so hard to be the player that fans expected him to be.