Kathy Willens/Associated Press
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Chapman is “one million percent” planning to hit free agency rather than playing out the final two years and $30 million of his contract.
Chapman, 31, remains one of the best closers in baseball. He’s recorded 25 saves in 29 opportunities while posting a 2.45 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, striking out 53 batters in 36.2 innings.
The lefty made the All-Star team for the sixth time in 2019 and his second straight in New York. The Yankees enter Wednesday’s games with the seventh-best bullpen ERA in baseball, and having Chapman as the stopper essentially turns their games into eight-inning affairs.
While Chapman qualifies among the best at his craft, there’s reason to believe he’s taking a risk hitting the open market. Kimbrel was statistically one of the greatest closers in MLB history before hitting free agency last winter. He wound up sitting out until June, when the Chicago Cubs awarded him a three-year, $43 million contract—a deal that paled in comparison to his original asking price.
Chapman turns 32 in February and has a checkered off-field history that includes a suspension after an MLB investigation into allegations he choked then-girlfriend Cristina Barnea.
The Yankees traded for Chapman in 2016 and then inked him to an $85 million contact the following offseason despite those allegations (for which he was never criminally charged), but there will be some teams that hesitate because of the potential backlash.
Couple that with the relative devaluing of the closer position, and Chapman may find that leaving $30 million on the table isn’t the best move.