NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When it comes to their desire to bring back closer Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees aren’t exactly playing it close to the vest.
In an interview on WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton” show Thursday, general manager Brian Cashman was candid about the team’s intentions, saying, “We’d love to bring a Chapman back.”
“He’s going to have a nice bidding war, as you’d expect,” Cashman said. ” … So we’ll see where it goes. We have to wait to see how that market develops for him. But we’re going to be very honest — it would be nice to have him back in the pen.”
The Yankees acquired Chapman in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds last December. The Bronx Bombers then flipped him to the Cubs in July for three prospects and relief pitcher Adam Warren.
Chapman, 28, had a 1.55 ERA and 36 saves with the Yankees and Cubs this past season. He was suspended for the first 29 games of the year under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy.
Before being traded, Chapman told reporters he was happy and comfortable with the Yankees and would like to re-sign with the team.
Speaking to reporters at Major League Baseball’s owners meeting Wednesday, Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said upgrading the bullpen is the club’s top priority this offseason, and Chapman’s familiarity with the team makes him more attractive.
“Any time you can get a guy that’s already proven he can play in New York … then that’s a plus in the column,” he said, according to Newsday.
Chapman won’t come cheap, however. He’s reportedly seeking a $100 million contract, which would shatter the record for relief pitchers.
Of course, the Yankees are not the only team looking for a closer. The Dodgers, Giants, Cubs and Nationals are among the other teams in the market for one.
If the Bombers can’t reach a deal with Chapman, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 105 mph, they might look to sign the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen or the Nationals’ Mark Melancon, a former Yankee. New York could also pursue a trade, possibly for the Royals’ Wade Davis. Because Jansen was tendered a qualifying offer by the Dodgers, the Yankees would have to give up their first-round draft pick.
Dellin Betances struggled in the closer role after Chapman and Andrew Miller were dealt away. But Cashman said he is not ruling out the possibility that Betances could close for the Bombers in 2017.
“I think Betances is one of the better relievers in the game, and whatever role he’s going to pitch in, he’ll pitch extremely well,” Cashman said. “So I don’t have any concerns with Betances no matter what his role’s going to be. If we don’t end up with a high-end closer via free agency or trade then the plan would be to have full confidence in Dellin Betances being that guy.”
But WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman predicted on Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts’ show Thursday that New York won’t miss out on landing a big-time closer.
“The Yankees will make sure to get a closer, even though it’s five guys for three great closers,” he said. “I’m sure they’re going to get one of them. Chapman, I would say they’re the favorite.”
Heyman said he has a hard time picturing Melancon back in New York.
“I think he’s really terrific, doesn’t have the draft choice attached, but he was a member of the Yankees and he was a member of the Red Sox at one time, and both teams traded him for very little,” he said. “I can’t imagine you trade someone for very little and then you bring them back for $50 million. Teams generally do not do that.”