The National League Championship Series gave the Los Angeles Dodgers a first-hand look at what could have been, and what nearly was in Chicago Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman. Prior to being traded to the Cubs he began the season with the New York Yankees.
Chapman was only part of the Yankees organization because the Dodgers backed away from a trade for the flamethrower. Los Angeles made an early splash at the 2015 Winter Meetings by agreeing to a deal with the Cincinnati Reds.
However, it was immediately put on hold, and eventually fell apart, after a report of Chapman’s alleged involvement in a domestic dispute surfaced.
Initial reports suggested the Dodgers weren’t completely abandoning trade talks. But after further evaluation, the club seemingly passed on what certainly would have been a public relations
Dodgers owner Mark Walter said there was not a person within the organization who supported moving forward with the trade, per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball:
“Nobody did (favor getting Chapman). It wasn’t (just) ownership.”
Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten provided additional insight into the Dodgers’ decision:
“We did not know what the findings would be,” Kasten said. “There was plenty of reason to be cautious.”
In March, Chapman was suspended 30 games by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred under the league’s overhauled domestic violence policy. Chapman cooperated with MLB’s investigation and agreed not to appeal.
Of note, had Chapman been suspended 40 or more games, it would have kept him under team control through 2017. Instead, Chapman remained eligible for free agency after this season. That creates for an intriguing situation that may involve the Dodgers.
Kenley Jansen will also become a free agent, and the due diligence Los Angeles operates with suggests Chapman would receive interest. The 28-year-old converted 36 saves this season with a 1.55 ERA.
Against the Dodgers in the NLCS, Chapman allowed two runs and had three strikeouts in 4.2 innings over three appearances.