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Yankees expected to pursue Aroldis Chapman this offseason

Dellin Betances’ struggles could pave the way for a reunion with Aroldis Chapman.

Chicago Cubs v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Since the Yankees traded Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, the bullpen has been far less valuable than it was in the first half of the season. Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, and Adam Warren have done a noble job maintaining an effective bullpen, but there has been a 2.0-WAR loss in value that they have not been able to fill. It makes sense for the Yankees to chase a free agent reliever or two this offseason, and it sounds like Chapman will be one of their major targets.

Jon Heyman is reporting that Chapman may be a target for Brian Cashman as the Yankees look to rebuild the dominant bullpen they compiled last offseason. This thought is only reinforced by Betances’ recent slide suffered over the final month of the season. Losing their super bullpen has required them to lean on their closer more than they had been this season, and the workload is finally catching up to him.

Chapman has actually pitched better with the Cubs than he did during his time in New York. He now has a 1.19 ERA and 0.75 FIP with a 15.5 K/9 over 22.2 innings since being dealt to Chicago. With no draft compensation linked to him, he would represent the perfect re-addition to the roster in time for his age-29 season. Except for the PR disaster he has brought with him.

The left-hander has earned criticism for his handling of the media since coming to his new team. His reaction and response to their line of questioning about his alleged domestic violence incident has been childish and distracting to the Cubs’ playoff efforts. It has been a nightmare that the Yankees just got themselves out of, and getting back into this controversy does not sound like a good idea–especially when they don’t have to.

If this free agent class has anything of value, it’s relief pitchers. Besides Chapman, Mark Melancon will also be available as a free agent for the first time. As a 31-year-old right-hander, the closer would not cost anywhere near the record-breaking contract that Chapman will likely receive. Kenley Jansen will also be available but would cost a draft pick. If I’m being honest, though, the Yankees shouldn’t be afraid to sign someone with draft compensation attached to them considering the heap of young talent they brought in this season.

Improving the bullpen is a great idea, especially if the rotation continues to be a weak spot for this team, but replacing Betances as closer just because he’s had a rough September doesn’t seem like a rational reaction to a little fatigue. The Yankees have a lot of money coming off the books with very little out there to sign. If they’re going to add someone, it will be a reliever. Maybe Chapman is that guy, but there are enough options out there that no decision should be set just yet.