Yankees Rumors: New York Prefers Aroldis Chapman to Kenley Jensen
The New York Yankees would reportedly prefer to reunite with former closer Aroldis Chapman rather than signing fellow elite free agent reliever Kenley Jansen.
Although the rumor well has been a little dry during the World Series, Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball dropped an interesting bit of information for fans of the New York Yankees last week when he reported that “the Yankees will target Aroldis Chapman first, and Kenley Jansen next,” this winter.
We have already heard that the Yankees planned to pursue one of the elite relievers available on the free agent market this winter to replace their departed late-inning duo of Chapman and Andrew Miller.
This news confirms what most analysts had already assumed, that New York would prefer to bring back a proven commodity in Chapman rather than crossing their fingers that Jansen or Mark Melancon could successfully make the transition from the more pitcher-friendly National League.
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According to Heyman, those hoping the Yankees will reassemble their three-headed bullpen monster will likely be disappointed, as he writes they are just looking to add one dominant late-game arm to pair with Dellin Betances for next year.
That approach makes sense to me, as it seems like the team should be putting its primary focus this offseason on shoring up the shaky starting rotation. We already saw this year that a historically good bullpen is not that useful if you don’t have the starters to hand off leads to them.
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Although he missed New York’s first 30 games in 2016 because of a domestic violence suspension, Chapman was undeniably awesome during his brief stint in pinstripes, pitching to a 2.01 ERA and 1.93 FIP in 31.1 IP while striking out 36.7% of the batters he faced. He’s been even better since going over to Chicago.
Aside from his experience in the Bronx and the AL East, Chapman has the additional benefit of not requiring the Yankees to surrender a draft pick. Kenley Jansen is certain to receive a qualifying offer from the Dodgers, assuming the system is not changed by the next collective bargaining agreement. Chapman is also slightly younger at age 28.
On the other hand, Chapman is expected to take home the largest deal of any reliever in history this winter. With so many teams expected to be in on him, my early prediction is he signs for something like five years $90 million, although I would also not be surprised to see him land a nine figure commitment.