Yankees have already reached out to Aroldis Chapman

SCOTTSDALE — The Yankees’ courtship of Aroldis Chapman is officially underway.

General manager Brian Cashman said Monday that he has reached out to Chapman’s agent — along with the agents for several other free agents — as the baseball offseason kicked off with the start of the general manager’s meetings.

Cashman appears focused on pitching above all else this winter, both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon are the top relievers on the free-agent market, while Rich Hill, Bartolo Colon and Ivan Nova are among the best starters available.

“There are certainly some names out there that are pretty good,” Cashman said. “It’s probably a thin starting pitching market, there are a number of different relievers in the market; certainly more relievers in this free agency than there are starters of quality. The trade route is obviously an area we’ll see what develops over time.”

The Yankees traded four low-level prospects for Chapman last winter, seizing the opportunity as the lefthander awaited a suspension from Major League Baseball for his involvement in an alleged domestic violence incident.

Chapman served a 30-game suspension before pitching well for the Yankees, who had a solid bullpen trio of Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances from May through July before dealing Chapman and Miller away before the trade deadline for a total of seven prospects and righthander Adam Warren.

Chapman helped the Cubs end their 108-year championship drought, though he now figures to draw interest from several big-market teams including the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and Giants.

Betances excelled in the closer’s role from Aug. 1 through Sept. 5, pitching to a 0.57 ERA while converting nine of 10 save opportunities in 14 outings. He stumbled down the stretch, posting a 12.86 ERA with three saves in four chances over nine appearances beginning Sept. 6.

Cashman said he would be comfortable with Betances as his closer if he’s unable to add another big-name reliever, confident his late-season slump was due to his workload rather than being able to handle the role.

“I just want to bring in more talent,” Cashman said. “It’s too early to say who’s going to do what; it depends how the winter goes. He finished the season as our closer, so until or unless I find something better — which is pretty hard to do — he would be the closer if the season started today. But it’s not.

“I just think he was tired. As you saw in the postseason, too, when guys get used a lot they can start to wear down. We’ll see. We’ll just see how the winter takes us. I need to improve on some areas and hopefully we’ll have a chance to do that.”

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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