OXON HILL, MD – The Yankees got their man – and all it took was the biggest contract any closer has ever signed.
Aroldis Chapman agreed to a five-year, $86 million contract to return to the Bronx late Wednesday night, shattering the previous mark of four years and $62 million set only two days ago by the Giants’ Mark Melancon.
A source confirmed the agreement, which was first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
The move marks the second of this week’s Winter Meetings by the Yankees, who officially announced the signing Matt Holliday to a one-year, $13 million pact earlier Wednesday after the outfielder/DH passed his physical.
Chapman’s contract won’t be finalized until he passes a physical, a source said.
For the Yankees, the signing reunites Chapman with former teammate Dellin Betances, giving the Bombers an imposing 1-2 punch at the back end of the bullpen.
“We have a chance to significantly improve our club,” general manager Brian Cashman said earlier in the day when asked why he was pursuing a big-name closer as the Yankees take part in a youth movement among much of their roster.
The Yankees had been in negotiations with both Chapman and Kenley Jansen, trying to add a big arm to pair with Betances, who will now shift back to a setup role. The Dodgers, Marlins and Nationals had also been connected to the 28-year-old lefthander.
Cashman had said several times that adding a major player such as Chris Sale by sacrificing prospects didn’t make sense for the Yankees, but apparently shelling out $86 million was not an issue for the team.
“If we can secure one of these guys on a multi-year basis, we’re acquiring some other pieces that collectively add up to getting us closer to that championship contending category,” Cashman said Wednesday afternoon. “But we’re not losing pieces along the way that are knocking on the door in the near future, whether it’s 2017 or ‘18 or ‘19,”
ESPN’s Marly Rivera reported that Chapman’s deal includes a no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, though he can’t be traded to a California team in the final two years. Rosenthal also reported that the deal includes an opt-out after the third year.
The Yankees preferred Chapman over Jansen for a number of reasons, most notably because of Chapman’s experience pitching in New York last season and the fact that the team would not have to sacrifice its first-round pick to sign him. The Yankees saw their first-round pick rise from 17th to 16th Wednesday after the Rockies gave up the No. 11 pick to sign free agent Ian Desmond.
Chapman told ESPN earlier in the week that he was seeking a six-year contract, but he ultimately settled for five. He also said the Cubs had shown no interest in retaining him, which proved true when Chicago dealt outfielder Jorge Soler for Royals closer Wade Davis on Wednesday
Chapman excelled in New York last season, pitching to a 2.01 ERA with 20 saves in 31 games for the Yankees. He was traded to the Cubs in late-July for four players including top prospect Gleyber Torres and major-league righthander Adam Warren.
The move paid off for both teams, as the Yankees stocked their burgeoning farm system with talented youngsters and the Cubs rode Chapman’s powerful left arm to their first World Series title in 108 years.
Now the Yankees have Chapman back in the fold, as well.
Chapman posted a 1.01 ERA with 16 saves in 28 appearances during the regular season with the Cubs, then helped Chicago to its first World Series title in 108 years with a strong postseason. He blew a save in Game 7 before the Cubs came back to win the game.
The flame-throwing lefthander tossed 15.2 innings in 13 games between October 7 and November 2, appearing to be out of gas by the end of the World Series, but Cashman said this week he wasn’t worried about that workload impacting the closer going forward.
“He looked healthy,” Cashman said Monday. “I wouldn’t be pursuing him if that was a concern.”
The Yankees entered the offseason looking to add a designated hitter and a closer, both of which were accomplished this week. Barring a trade of Brett Gardner or Chase Headley in the coming weeks, it appears Cashman’s heavy lifting for the offseason is done more than two weeks before Christmas.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News