After half a season with the vaunted trio of Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller in their bullpen, the New York Yankees appear poised to form a two-headed monster this winter. Like other clubs, Chapman and Kenley Jansen are among free agents the Yankees have interest in.
Chapman and Jansen headline the group of closers available, which also includes Mark Melancon. It’s plausible each signs a contract that exceeds the four-year, $50 million deal Jonathan Papelbon received from the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011 that set a record for relief pitchers.
While the Yankees are believed to have contacted representatives of Chapman and Jansen, they would prefer to sign the flame-throwing lefty, per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball:
The Yankees’ interest runs all over the board, though Chapman appears to be at the top of their list, with him getting the edge over another top free-agent closer, Kenley Jansen, at least for the Yankees, because they had Chapman last year and especially because their signing of Chapman means he wouldn’t cost the signing team a draft choice.
New York took a gamble on the Cuban native last December after the Dodgers backed away from an agreed-upon trade with the Cincinnati Reds. The 28-year-old served a 30-game suspension for his role in an alleged domestic violence incident.
Upon returning, Chapman went 3-0 with 20 saves, a 2.01 ERA, 1.93 FIP and 0.89 WHIP in 31 games with the Yankees. Chapman converted 16 saves with a 1.01 ERA for the Chicago Cubs. During a recent interview Chapman spoke with plenty of optimism over a potential return to the Yankees.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman identified re-signing Jansen as a priority this winter, as one would suspect. However, some within the Dodgers organization reportedly view Chapman as the superior ‘long-term’ option.
The San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals are also hopeful to sign one of the premier closers, but in the Giants case they may not dole out a record contract in order to do so.