CLEVELAND — In addition to rescuing the Cubs’ season on Sunday night, Aroldis Chapman probably raised the bidding on his impending free agency with his first-ever eight-out save.
And if you’re a Yankee fan hoping Chapman winds up back in the Bronx next winter, you should probably root for the Cubs to pull off this comeback and win the World Series.
Because if they lose, they’ll be under enormous pressure to pay whatever it takes to keep the Cuban star in Chicago to continue pursuing that elusive championship.
“How could they justify him leaving to that fan base?” was the way a major league executive put it on Monday. “The Cubs should want him back even if they win, but he’s going to break records for closer money, and Theo (Epstein) may not see it as the best way to allocate funds.”
Some baseball people believe the Dodgers will pursue Chapman before possibly re-signing their own star closer, Kenley Jansen. Remember, they had a trade in place with the Reds for him in December that was blown up by news of the domestic violence incident that led to a suspension.
Meanwhile, there is an expectation the Yankees will make a run at bringing back Chapman after trading him to the Cubs in July.
There is no indication yet whether Hal Steinbrenner will be ready to spend in any big way this winter, as the rebuilding Yankees probably need at least another year before they can be considered serious contenders again.
But signing Chapman to say, a four-year, $60 million deal, and again pairing him with Dellin Betances, would give them a deep, dominant bullpen they’ll need to at least attempt to contend next season, and then be in place if and when their young talent blossoms as they expect.
With their starting pitching likely to be mediocre next season, Brian Cashman may try to build a bullpen, as he did last year with Chapman, Betances and Andrew Miller, that can shorten games and give them a chance to compete.
And bullpens continue to be vital to win championships, perhaps more so than ever in a post-season when managers are using their top relievers more boldly than in the past.
Finally, though it’s probably not a factor in the Yankees’ thinking, signing Chapman would at least make their fans feel a little better about what they’re watching this October.
For a lot of them, in fact, this World Series probably feels like being forced to eat vegetables as a kid. Or, if they’re of a certain age, treating themselves to a colonoscopy.
It might be good for their long-term health, but it’s sure not a pleasant experience.
(Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)
I can vouch for such a sentiment because as I was getting back to my hotel in the early morning hours after Game 5, I got a text from Marc Malusis, who was hosting the overnight show on WFAN, and as a lifelong Yankee fan, he was as fired up as those on the calls he was taking.
“Tell you what,” he texted. “If I’ve gotta watch Chapman and Miller dominate the World Series, then Gleyber Torres better be the next Derek Jeter and Clint Frazier better at least be Bernie Williams.”
“Weren’t you all for Cashman selling at the deadline?” I asked.
“You know I was,” he replied. “I’m just saying he better be right about those kids he got because one of these teams is going to have Cashman to thank for winning a championship.”
I couldn’t argue with that. The Cubs’ win in Game 5 on Sunday night not only saved them from elimination but also evened the score a bit between the dueling ex-Yankee relievers, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.
Miller, of course, has been the X-factor extraordinaire for the Indians, but now Chapman has his save for the ages — or more specifically, from an earlier era in baseball when men were men, as Goose Gossage might say, and closers worked multiple innings.
Now, as this Series goes to a Game 6 on Tuesday night, you know Miller or Chapman is going to play a pivotal role in locking it down for one side or the other.
Yankee fans knew it could happen. But seeing it come to life in such dramatic fashion would give anyone a touch of seller’s remorse, especially since the key prospects, Torres from the Cubs, and Frazier and Justus Sheffield from the Indians, aren’t major-league ready yet.
I still think Cashman did the right thing for a franchise that desperately needed more depth in prospects and young players, but seeing Chapman’s electric performance in Game 5 was a reminder of how much buzz he brought to the Stadium last season — the only real buzz until Gary Sanchez showed up.
Yankee fans are going to need patience in waiting for the payoff on Cashman’s trades, but bringing back Chapman would make the waiting a lot more tolerable.
The bidding for him is sure to be high. How high could depend at least partly on whether the Cubs lose one more game in this World Series, extending the famed championship drought to 109 years.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News