NEW YORK — With the postseason around the corner, the Yankees have some decisions to make regarding their bullpen and which relievers will be left off their playoff roster.
For a reliever like Aroldis Chapman, that means there are no guarantees leading into October when it comes to a spot in the bullpen.
It sounds like the Yankees are taking that one step further, though.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, New York is considering a scenario where Chapman isn't on the active roster before the end of the regular season, designating him for assignment.
Here's Sherman's report from Saturday night:
The Yankees are at least contemplating whether to designate him for assignment. Essentially, the question is whether they believe they can straighten out his delivery and confidence in the waning days of the season and — even if there positives — whether they would trust him enough with his vacillating performances and control to put him on the postseason roster. Because, if not, he too is a free agent after the season and there are no plans for a reunion.
All signs do in fact point toward a separation this offseason between the Yankees and Chapman. He's under contract through the end of this season, set to enter free agency. With his struggles in 2022, his injury history and recent track record in the postseason, it's hard to envision any scenario where the Yankees bring Chapman back on a new deal.
As much as the southpaw is one of the best closers of this era, his numbers have deteriorated rapidly over the last few years. This season, Chapman has a 4.36 ERA in 39 games, the highest ERA in a single season in his career. That number jumps up to 6.35 if you subtract the first 12 outings of Chapman's season—he's given up 16 earned runs in his previous 22.2 innings pitched.
So, why designate him for assignment? Well, it would open up a spot on their roster.
Reliever Wandy Peralta will need to come back from the injured list soon. Same for starter Frankie Montas, assuming he's able to make one start before the end of the regular season. Other relievers like Miguel Castro, Stephen Ridings and Albert Abreu are on the mend, trying to come back from the injured list before the season ends. They won't necessarily factor into a postseason roster either, but they could finish the season strong, holding a bullpen spot instead of Chapman.
The other way of looking at it is it allows certain hurlers to stick around when those injured folks return. Cutting ties with Chapman would also ensure Lucas Luetge stays in the bullpen for the rest of the year and that younger arms like Clarke Schmidt or Ron Marinaccio don't need to be optioned.
Bottom line, Chapman can't be trusted in big situations. Is it worth keeping a pitcher like that around in the bullpen?
On the other side of that coin, it doesn't hurt to have a surplus of arms capable of eating innings. Even if Chapman's numbers are atrocious this year, and he's not the pitcher he once was, he does technically have more late-game experience than anyone else in the Yankees' bullpen. It seems extremely unlikely, but if New York can somehow get him right before the postseason begins, there's a universe where Chapman is a contributor and a high-level reliever in a yet-to-be-determined role.
He won't be closing, though. That's for sure. Yankees manager Aaron Boone will likely use the likes of Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loáisiga, Scott Effross, Peralta (once he's healthy) and more in high-leverage spots.
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