I could go on at length about why the Aroldis Chapman deal was a disastrous one—his domestic violence, for one; the fact there were other, better, relief options on the market; and, ownership’s misguided notion that his velocity would bring fans in droves. All of it reveals the internecine front office politics and how Brian Cashman runs the show until Hal Steinbrenner decides to pull out the keystone Jenga piece to topple the tower.
Regardless of how and why that decision was made, it was still made. You can’t go back in time and decide that this wasn’t a good idea. All we know is that it’s August 28th and the only thing that matters is the decision that is made next.
The Yankees made one of those important decisions on August 19th, when they decided to dethrone him as closer. This was in response to a number of poor performances, the straw that broke the camel’s back being his horrid performance against the Red Sox.
The next decision is a more complicated one, one that Joe Girardi will be forced to grapple with in the coming month and year. Girardi clearly left it open that Chapman would still be used on high leverage situations, and that already has had disastrous results. After coming in to the Mariners’ extra inning game, Chapman allowed a solo home run to Yonder Alonso to sink the Bombers once again.
Currently, Chapman has a 4.23 ERA and a -0.48 WPA, which is pretty untenable considering both the Yankees’ playoff position and the depth in the bullpen in general. It comes down to this: Chapman is a sunk cost. You can’t erase his contract and you’re going to pay that money no matter what. The important decision lies with coming up with a plan on how he can be utilized in the most effective manner possible, and having a backup plan in the case that doesn’t work.
In the immediate, Chapman should be removed from any high leverage spots. He should have to go on the same path Chad Green had to go on before finding himself in high leverage spots; bring him in a mop-up role, and that will allow him to build up confidence and even toy with a new pitch or a change in his mechanics.
Personally, I feel like trying to add a cutter wouldn’t be a bad idea. Ultimately his command is what will be the most important factor, but having elite velocity and adding some more movement could be beneficial and provide hitters with a new look. Fixing his mechanics will in the end come down to both Chapman and Larry Rothschild just figuring it out.
If that doesn’t work out, and he really can’t make his way back into a high leverage role, then you ideally need to cut bait. The Red Sox just did the same with Pablo Sandoval and paid a similar amount, and the Yankees now have the money where they can absorb a mistake like this. Unless you feel the contract is salvageable and it’s just a blip before the looming opt-out, the Yankees need to opt out themselves.