Will the Yankees be without their closer Aroldis Chapman in 2020? It’s a scenario that is very plausible after hearing what The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal had to say about the flame-throwing left-hander.
Rosenthal wrote in his most recent piece that “a player who is friendly” with Chapman said that the closer will “one million percent” opt out of his contract following the end of the 2019 season.
Signing a five-year, $86 million with the Yankees back in 2017, Chapman had a player opt out clause put in following this season. If he does decide to use it, he would be forfeiting the remaining $34.4 million left on his contract (including his signing bonus) for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
But that may not be the smartest thing for Chapman. For one, he will be 32 next season, and age has certainly showed a little bit in his stuff on the mound. His fastball, which averaged 100.1 miles per hour back in 2017, is down to 98.3 in 2019. His slider is also down from 87.9 to 85.1 mph.
Also, Chapman must keep in mind what happened with the reliever market this year. As Rosenthal points out, Craig Kimbrel is the perfect player to compare to Chapman. The righty, who was easily the most dominant closer in free agency, couldn’t find a deal all offseason. Then, he finally signed a three-year, $43 million pact with the Cubs.
That’s $14.3 million per season for a closer at the same age as Chapman.
So would he want to leave a team paying him more than that over the next two seasons as well as a championship contender to test the market? Rosenthal believes he could garner more than $30 million in free agency, but it will be a big decision for Chapman.
Though the Bombers would love to keep Chapman in their bullpen for the next two seasons, they could make up for his loss. With arms like Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton — two former closers — and a hopefully healthy Dellin Betances, someone could step up to fill the void.