Sunday’s postponement does not delay Chapman’s return


I’ve seen some confusion about this and figured it was worth clearing up: Sunday’s postponed game does not mean Aroldis Chapman will have to wait one extra day to return from his suspension. He is eligible to return on May 9th regardless of how many Yankees games are postponed between now and then. Both Jayson Stark and Bryan Hoch have confirmed it.

Chapman was suspended 30 games following an October domestic dispute incident at his home, but apparently the suspension covers 30 regularly scheduled games, not 30 games played. Don’t ask me why. That’s the way the league’s domestic violence policy is written. Chapman will still lose the same salary ($1.85M or so) and service time as a result of the suspension, however.

There has been no official announcement yet, but Sunday’s game is tentatively scheduled to be made up on July 28th, well after Chapman’s suspension is due to end. He will now effectively serve a 29-game ban and be eligible to play in the other 133 regular season games. Having Chapman available that one extra game could very well end up having a huge impact on the final standings.

So remember: May 9th. That’s the date Chapman will be eligible to return — the Yankees have said they plan to make sure Chapman is MLB ready that day, because duh — no matter what the weather does to the team’s schedule.

Sorting through the 45 players the Yankees still have on their Spring Training roster

Mitchell. (Presswire)
Mitchell. (Presswire)

Two weeks from today, the Yankees will open the 2016 regular season at home against the Astros. There are a 14 exhibition games to be played between now and then, and several roster decisions have to be made as well. The Yankees have made two rounds of roster cuts so far, paring the number of players in big league camp from 70 down to 45. Another 20 still must go.

It goes without saying some of those 45 players have a much better chance to make the Opening Day roster than others. You’d be surprised to see how few have close to no chance to make the team though. The Yankees have only a few open roster spots but an awful lot of candidates to fill them. Let’s look over the 45 players still in big league camp and figure out where they fit going forward.

Definitely Making The Team (20)

These are the easiest calls, so we might as well start here. These 20 players will definitely be on the Opening Day roster:

Coming into the spring I would not have considered Shreve a lock for the bullpen, but it’s pretty safe to say he’s in right now. He’s been phenomenal in camp, he was awesome most of last year, and Joe Girardi is talking about him like one of his regular relievers. Shreve’s going to break camp with the Yankees.

The Yankees insist they are having a true competition for the fifth starter’s spot, though sending Sabathia to the bullpen so Nova can start is one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” things. Maybe the Yankees will figure out a way to stick Sabathia on the DL rather than send him to the bullpen, though that would surprise me. I’m sticking with what I said last week: I don’t believe Sabathia is truly competing for a rotation spot. He’s in.

Very Likely To Make The Team (2)

In Bryan Mitchell and Rob Refsnyder, the Yankees have two young players who are forcing the issue with their Spring Training performances. Both saw time in the show last year and both came to camp on the roster bubble. Mitchell keeps throwing fire and getting outs while Refsnyder has shown he can actually handle third base, a position he never played prior to this spring.

“(Refsnyder at third base) been better than I expected, to be honest. He’s never been over to that side of the infield. His reactions are really good. His arm’s good,” said Brian Cashman to Meredith Marakovits recently (video link). The Yankees need a backup third baseman now that Castro will stick to second, and Refsnyder has taken to the position quickly. He hit in his limited time last year and he adds some balance as a righty hitter.

As for Mitchell, the Yankees do have three open bullpens, and none of the shuttle relievers have impressed this spring. He’s been by far the best of the team’s bullpen candidates, and Girardi has mentioned him as a potential Adam Warren replacement, meaning a multi-inning reliever. Mitchell pitched pretty well in relief last year before taking that line drive to the nose. I wouldn’t call him or Refsnyder locks for the Opening Day roster, but they sure look like strong candidates right now.

Hurt Or Suspended (3)

Three of the 45 players still in camp will not be on the active 25-man roster when the season begins. Aroldis Chapman has to serve his 30-game suspension, and both Greg Bird and Mason Williams will start the season on the DL following shoulder surgery. Bird’s going to be out for the year. We know that already. Williams is doing pretty much everything — throwing, hitting, etc. — but still needs more time to finish up his rehab.

There are some 40-man roster implications here. Chapman will be on the restricted list and will not count towards the 40-man roster while suspended. Bird can also be placed on the 60-day DL whenever a 40-man spot is needed. The 60-day DL is kinda weird though. Teams can only use it when they need it, meaning another player has to placed on the 40-man right away. Bird will likely start the season on the 15-day DL, then be transferred over whenever a 40-man spot is inevitably needed.

Pazos. (Presswire)
Pazos. (Presswire)

In The Mix For A Roster Spot (7)

This might as well be the shuttle reliever category. Johnny Barbato, Nick Goody, James Pazos, Branden Pinder, and Nick Rumbelow are all still in camp and they’re all on the 40-man roster. All but Barbato pitched in the big leagues last year too. Barbato has pitched the best during Grapefruit League play so far, which won’t hurt his case for the Opening Day roster. Then again, none of these guys have thrown more than seven innings this spring.

Based on everything I have above, five of the seven bullpen spots are claimed: Miller, Betances, Shreve, Mitchell, and Nova (or Sabathia). I honestly have no idea how those last two spots will shake out. I don’t even have an inkling which way the Yankees are leaning. Barbato has pitched well so far, though that doesn’t mean much. He’s got two weeks to make some mistakes. At the same time, the other guys have a chance to step up their game. The best way to describe the bullpen situation right now is: developing.

Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez are also in the mix for a roster spot. They’re competing for the backup catcher’s job, and right now I’d say it’s advantage Romine. Sanchez has not had a good spring (1-for-17) and over the weekend Girardi said he seems to be pressing. There’s also the service time issue (35 days in the minors delays Sanchez’s free agency a year) and the fact that Sanchez probably could use some more Triple-A time to work on his defense.

Out of these seven players, all but Romine will go to Triple-A if they don’t make the team. Romine’s out of options, so if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, he’ll go on waivers. And even if he clears, he can elect free agency. The Yankees can’t expect to keep him based on those conditions. That’s probably another reason Romine seems to be the favorite to back up McCann right now.

Oh Gosh, They Might Actually Make The Team (5)

Remember Chris Martin? He was that random offseason pickup no one really paid attention to last year, then bam, he was on the Opening Day roster. The five guys in this group are candidates to be this year’s Chris Martin. Here’s how they can make the team out of camp:

  • Chris Denorfia: Unlike most of the team’s depth outfielders, Denorfia hits right-handed and he has a lot of MLB experience. He strikes me as the top bench candidate should Ellsbury’s wrist injury linger.
  • Pete Kozma: What if the Yankees want to give Refsnyder some more Triple-A time to continue working at third? Kozma, a veteran utility man, is the annoyingly obvious alternative.
  • Tyler Olson: Having a very good spring and could fill one of the open bullpen spots. Olson is a true lefty specialist and Girardi sure does love his matchups.
  • Anthony Swarzak: Swarzak has been solid overall, and he’s another guy with MLB experience. The fact he can throw multiple innings may land him in the bullpen.
  • Kirby Yates: Quietly shoving this spring (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K) and he has big league time under his belt. With none of the shuttle guys standing put, Yates could grab a bullpen spot.

Yeah, you don’t have to try real hard to see one or two (or three) of these guys making the team, do you? It’s surprisingly easy, in fact. I swear, these guys just sneak up on you. You overlook them as cast-offs when they’re acquired, and before you know, they’re standing on the foul line and being introduced on Opening Day. Baseball, man.

Long Shots To Make The Team (8)

Never say never, but I am comfortable saying these last eight players are very unlikely to make the Opening Day roster. Catchers Carlos Corporan and Eddy Rodriguez remain in camp, though Girardi has dismissed them as backup catcher candidates. They’re still around so McCann, Romine, and Sanchez don’t have to catch every inning of every spring game. That’s all.

Chris Parmelee was signed to replace Bird as the Triple-A first baseman, so he’s going to Triple-A. The only way he makes the Opening Day roster is if Teixeira gets hurt. (I don’t think he’d make it if A-Rod got hurt. They’d use Beltran at DH in that case.) Ronald Torreyes had gotten a look at third base this spring and he’s been fine overall. At this point I think he’s behind Refsnyder and Kozma on the backup infield depth chart.

Kristen Orfia. (Presswire)
Kristen Orfia. (Presswire)

In addition to Denorfia, Slade Heathcott and Cesar Puello are the last remaining spare outfielders in camp. Heathcott has been brutal during Grapefruit League play (1-for-22!), and while that isn’t everything, I think it puts him behind Denorfia on the depth chart should Ellsbury stay hurt. Puello’s been great in camp, but this is a guy who played one game last season due to a back injury. I can’t see him sticking even if Ellsbury’s wrist problem lingers.

The last two arms in camp are Diego Moreno and Luis Cessa. The Yankees really like Cessa — Cashman in particular has talked him up — and he’s looked pretty good in his limited action. Those are the key words there, limited action. He’s appeared in only three Spring Training games, and if the Yankees were seriously considering Cessa for the roster, he’d get more looks. Pitching two innings once a week suggests he’s on the outside looking in. That’s fine. He could use more Triple-A time anyway.

The Yankees seem to like Moreno more than we realize — he’s been mentioned as a call-up candidate for two or three years now — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him again this summer. He is not on the 40-man roster right now, and he hasn’t pitched well in camp (six runs in 5.1 innings), so it seems safe to say Diego is way down on the Opening Day bullpen depth chart at the moment. The Yankees have too many other candidates.

* * *

With Opening Day two weeks away, it appears the Yankees have 22 of their 25 roster spots figured out. They need to pick a backup catcher and decide who will hold down the last two bullpen spots on a temporary basis. I assume those will be shuttle spots, with new guys cycling in and out as necessary, especially early in the season. The next round of roster cuts should be coming next weekend, and that may lend some clarity to the bullpen situation.

The Latest New Closer [2016 Season Preview]


The Yankees made a controversial trade this past offseason. It wasn’t controversial from a talent standpoint. In fact, this might the only trade during the RAB era in which everyone agrees the Yankees made out like bandits in terms of the talent exchanged. That never happens. Usually more than few folks are happy to say New York got fleeced. Not this time.

The trade: prospects Eric Jagielo, Rookie Davis, Caleb Cotham, and Tony Renda to the Reds for closer Aroldis Chapman. It’s a four-for-one swap that is essentially a two-for-one swap because Jagielo and Davis were the only actual prospects involved, though neither appeared on any of the top 100 lists published this spring. Cotham is a 28-year-old rookie and Renda went unpicked in December’s Rule 5 Draft.

The Yankees were able to acquire Chapman on the cheap because of a domestic dispute incident at his Miami home in October. Chapman had been traded to the Dodgers at the Winter Meetings — the two sides agreed to the deal — but Los Angeles walked away once the details of the incident came to light. Chapman allegedly choked and pushed his girlfriend, and he admitted to firing eight shots from a handgun in his garage.

The trade came with instant backlash. Brian Cashman admitted the Yankees made the deal because the Reds lowered their asking price after reports of the incident surfaced, so the team used a domestic violence investigation to benefit on the field, which is gross as hell. I hope they never ever ever do it again. Several women’s rights groups protested the trade and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the team should be boycotted.

People were (and still are, really) mad and it’s not difficult to understand why. Chapman was not arrested, but the allegations were ugly, and the possibility of a suspension loomed. Ultimately, no criminal charges were filed against Chapman and MLB suspended him 30 games under their new domestic violence policy. He agreed not to appeal the ban, likely because MLB threatened a longer suspension, which could have delayed his free agency.

Now that the investigations are complete and the suspension has been levied, Chapman and the Yankees can move forward and focus on baseball. They’ll have to come up with a plan to make sure he’s ready as soon as the suspension ends, though that shouldn’t be a huge deal. Chapman can pitch in Extended Spring Training games in the meantime. It’s not like he’s a hitter who needs to get his rhythm or a starter who has to get stretched out.

The addition of Chapman adds another elite reliever to a bullpen that already had two of them in Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. In fact, Betances, Chapman, and Miller rank first, sixth, and ninth in projected 2016 WAR among relievers according to ZiPS, respectively. Three top nine relievers is pretty awesome, especially since it could easily end up being three top five relievers. These guys are that good. Anyway, here’s some more on Chapman.

Chapman Is Insanely Good

There seem to be a lot of people trying to minimize Chapman’s impact for whatever reason. The Yankees went 66-3 when leading after six innings last summer and that’s really good. It’s a .957 winning percentage when the league average was .882. It’s also totally irrelevant. Last year is last year. This is a new year. The odds of the Yankees repeating a .950+ winning percentage when leading after seven this summer are substantially higher with Chapman on board.

Last season Chapman had a 1.63 ERA (1.94 FIP) with a 41.7% strikeout rate in 66.1 innings and it was only his third best season in the last four years. Chapman is replacing Justin Wilson in Joe Girardi‘s end-game trio and Wilson was very good last season. The Yankees don’t get to the postseason without him. Here is Chapman vs. Wilson:

Justin Wilson Aroldis ChapmanChapman was a lot better than Wilson last season and he projects to be a lot better than him this season. You needn’t look at the projection systems to understand Chapman is an upgrade. He’s a significant addition to the bullpen. That isn’t the say Wilson wasn’t good last year or won’t be good this year. It’s just that any objective measure tells you Chapman will be better.

There is a lot more to Chapman than his high-octane fastball. He’s got a good slider and a sneaky good changeup — hitters swung and missed 56.8% (!) of the time against his changeup last year — and his long stride makes his triple digit fastball play up. Chapman is a true freak of nature. Baseball has never seen anything like this guy before. It’s going to be a treat to watch him on the field this summer.

Another New Closer

Girardi announced Chapman will indeed close this season — Miller will close during the suspension, because duh — which isn’t surprising. Chapman has done nothing but close the last four years while Betances has proven invaluable as a fireman and Miller continues to express a willingness to pitch in any role. There’s no wrong answer here. Any of the three could close and would be awesome at it.

So, with Chapman set to close this year, the Yankees are about to have their fifth different closer in the last five years. Hard to believe after nearly two decades of Mariano Rivera, ain’t it? Check out the list:

2012: Rafael Soriano (while Mo was hurt)
2013: Rivera
2014: David Robertson
2015: Miller
2016: Chapman

That’s not just five different closers in five years, it’s five awesome closers in five years. Robertson probably had the worst season of a Yankees closer from 2012-15 and he had a 3.08 ERA (2.68 FIP). Most teams would kill to have a closer that good. That was New York’s worst closer in a very, very long time.

The crazy thing is this is almost all by design. Rivera’s injury was a dumb fluke, but otherwise going from Mo to Robertson to Miller to Chapman was all planned. It’s not like the Yankees had someone stink as closer and lose his job to someone else, which happens all around the league each year. Chapman will be the team’s fifth closer in five years and in no way is that a bad thing.

One & Done

All indications are Chapman will be a Yankee for one year and one year only. He will qualify for free agency after the season and the team doesn’t spend money these days, at least not on long-term deals. Chapman will have a chance to break Jonathan Papelbon’s record contract for a reliever (four years, $50M) next winter. I can’t imagine the Yankees will go there, especially not with one big money reliever already on the books.

The Yankees will be able to make Chapman the qualifying offer after the season and I think the only way they don’t tender the qualifying offer is catastrophic injury. A blown elbow or shoulder, something that will sideline him the entire 2017 season. That sort of thing. Even with a down year, I think the Yankees would be willing to roll the dice with a qualifying offer. Worst case scenario is they get Chapman back on a one-year contract in 2017. The big salary doesn’t scare them, it’s the multiple years.

So, barring injury, this trade will likely net the Yankees one year of Chapman (well, 132 games of Chapman) plus a supplemental first round draft pick after the season. That’s a pretty great return considering they gave up two good but not great prospects and no one off their big league roster. The Yankees took a massive PR hit with this trade. Hopefully Chapman’s on-field performance makes it all worth it.

Thoughts following Aroldis Chapman’s suspension


Yesterday afternoon MLB announced Aroldis Chapman has been suspended 30 games under the league’s collectively bargained domestic violence policy following the October incident at his home. The suspension itself was not a surprise. We just had no idea how long it would be because he’s the first player to be suspended under the policy. There was no precedent. Anyway, I have some thoughts.

1. This is much larger than Aroldis Chapman and the Yankees in the grand scheme of things. A 30-game suspension seems fair to me — I was expecting a shorter ban and I’m glad the league was able to come down harder than I expected because I am generally anti-hurt people — and it sets a tough precedent for the league. Chapman was not arrested, he was not charged with a crime, and there was a lack of physical evidence. The league was still able to suspend him for a month while getting cooperation from Chapman and no fight from the MLBPA. That’s good. A shorter suspension would have been viewed as a slap on the wrist and anything longer likely would have been met with resistance from the union, especially since Chapman’s service time and impending free agency would have been a factor. Thirty games sorta represents the best case scenario for players involved in a domestic dispute. No arrest, no charges, cooperate with investigators, and you’re still getting 30 games. This domestic violence policy has some teeth.

2. The suspension will end up costing Chapman a little under $1.86M in salary and I’d like to see the Yankees do something positive with that money, specifically donate it to charity. Alex Rodriguez‘s home run milestone bonus was donated to charity and domestic violence is about a billion times worse than performance-enhancing drugs. Joe Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation is the obvious fit here. Safe at Home’s mission statement is “edu­cat­ing to end the cycle of domes­tic vio­lence and save lives,” and the Yankees are still very involved with the foundation. Several current and former players attend the gala each year and help raise money. If the Yankees would rather split that $1.86M up among several charities, great. That works too. The Chapman trade came with a lot of backlash — Brian Cashman admitted they swung the deal because the price dropped after Chapman’s incident became public, ewww — and that backlash is not going away because of the suspension. Between this and Lonn Trost telling poor people they don’t belong in premium seats, the Yankees aren’t exactly swimming in positive PR these days. Donating the money to a worthy cause would be a good first step towards salvaging an otherwise ugly situation. A little compassion goes a long way. Don’t put the money back into the roster and in the name of all that is holy don’t just pocket it.

3. Okay, let’s change gears and focus on the on-field aspect of the suspension. Per the terms of the ban, Chapman will be allowed to play in Spring Training — my guess is the Yankees don’t send him on any road trips, the reception might not be so pretty — but not minor league tune-up games once the season begins. That probably won’t be that big a deal. Chapman will be able to work out at the Tampa complex to stay sharp, and once the suspension nears its conclusion, he can pitch in Extended Spring Training games to get some innings in. Those aren’t official minor league games, so I assume this is doable. If not, simulated games will have to do. It’s not ideal but this isn’t a major problem. Chapman’s a reliever. He’s not a hitter who needs to find his rhythm at the plate or a starter who needs to get stretched out. I’m also curious to see how Joe Girardi handles him once the suspension is over. Does Chapman jump right into the closer’s role, or does Girardi ease him back into game action with one or two middle relief appearances before giving him the ninth inning? I guess it depends what the rest of the bullpen looks like at the time.


4. Once Chapman returns, I hope Girardi uses him heavily and gets as many innings out of him as possible. I know Girardi goes to great lengths to make sure his relievers are fresh and that’s great, but I say throw all that out the window with Chapman. Give him the ol’ Scott Proctor treatment. Make him the bullpen version of CC Sabathia on the 2008 Brewers. Chapman just turned 28 over the weekend and the guy is 6-foot-4 and 215 lbs. with the physique of a Greek god. The guy is built to last. This is almost certainly a one-and-done situation — all indications are the Yankees will let him walk as a free agent next offseason — so the Yankees have no long-term investment here. Give him a heavy workload — a 30-game suspension means he’ll still be available for 132 games, so get 65-ish innings out of him — and take advantage of the no stings attached elite reliever. Callous? Yes. So be it. Treat Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances with care and let Chapman be the workhorse, then let some other team deal with the aftermath. I don’t think the Girardi and the Yankees will actually do this, mind you. I’m just saying I hope they do.

5. The Yankees came into Spring Training with three open bullpen spots and now it’s four. Miller and Betances are more than fine in the late innings, and Ivan Nova will be the long man assuming everyone in the rotation makes it through camp in one piece. (That’s a big assumption, I know.) My guess right now, a few hours before the Yankees play their first Grapefruit League game, is those four open bullpen spots go to Chasen Shreve, Bryan Mitchell, Nick Rumbelow, and Jacob Lindgren. Shreve gets the first crack at being The Seventh Inning Guy™ based on last year’s overall body of work while Mitchell, a starter by trade, gets an opportunity to show whether he can replace Adam Warren as the Swiss Army Reliever who can go three pitches or three innings depending on the team’s needs that day. The other two guys get the “only when losing” innings out of the gate. The Yankees have a ton of relief candidates in camp and that’s good. They’ll need all of ’em at some point this year. Those four are my picks for the open bullpen spots based on what we know right now.

Aroldis Chapman suspended 30 games under domestic violence policy, will not appeal


As expected, Aroldis Chapman has been suspended under the league’s domestic violence policy following an October incident at his home in Miami. Chapman has been suspended 30 regular season games by commissioner Rob Manfred and he will not appeal, which runs counter to what he said a few weeks ago. In the meantime, Chapman will be allowed to pitch in Spring Training games but not minor league games during the season. He’s free to use the team’s complex to stay sharp.

“I asked my staff to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the incident involving Aroldis Chapman on October 30, 2015,” said Manfred in a statement. “Much of the information regarding the incident has been made public through documents released by law enforcement. Mr. Chapman submitted to an in-person interview with counsel present. After reviewing the staff report, I found Mr. Chapman’s acknowledged conduct on that day to be inappropriate under the negotiated Policy, particularly his use of a firearm and the impact of that behavior on his partner. I am gratified that Mr. Chapman has taken responsibility for his conduct, that he has agreed not to appeal the 30-game suspension, and that he has agreed to comply with the confidential directives of the Joint Policy Board established under the parties’ Policy to ensure that a similar incident does not occur in the future.”

In addition to the suspension, Chapman must also meet with a treatment board, reports Billy Witz. The board will determine whether any additional discipline is warranted, such as counseling or the relinquishment of weapons. The 30-game suspension will cost Chapman roughly $1.7M in salary and 35 days of service time. That will not delay his free agency. Chapman will still hit the open market next winter. He will be eligible to return on May 9th, for the first of four home games against the Royals.

“Today, I accepted a 30 game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my actions on October 30, 2015,” said Chapman in a statement. “I want to be clear, I did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening. However, I should have exercised better judgment with respect to my actions, and for that I am sorry. The decision to accept a suspension, as opposed to appealing one, was made after careful consideration. I made this decision in an effort to minimize the distractions that an appeal would cause the Yankees, my new teammates and most importantly, my family. I have learned from this matter, and I look forward to being part of the Yankees’ quest for a 28th World Series title. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.”

Back in October police were called to Chapman’s home after his girlfriend alleged he pushed and choked her during a party. Chapman admitted to police he fired eight shots from his legally owned handgun in his garage. Here is the police report. No arrests were made that night and Chapman will not face criminal charges, though Manfred has the power to suspend players under the domestic violence policy even without an arrest or charges. The gunshots all but ensured Chapman would be suspended. Manfred can’t let that go unpunished.

Chapman was one of three players under investigation under the domestic violence policy. Both Jose Reyes (for this) and Yasiel Puig (for this) are under investigation as well, though Chapman is the first to be suspended. Reyes is facing criminal charges after putting his wife in the hospital over the winter. His trial begins in April and MLB has placed him on paid administrative leave for the time being. That is separate from his inevitable suspension. Puig was in a bar fight, though there were no arrests or charges filed.

A 30-game suspension is more than expected, to be honest. I figured Chapman would get 15 games or something like that. Normal usage means the Yankees are going to lose something like 10-12 Chapman relief appearances early in the season, which is no big deal from a baseball standpoint. This was a sensitive subject, and I’m happy the suspension has been handed down and Chapman is not appealing. I can’t imagine anyone wanted this to drag on any longer.

Witz: Chapman would not be allowed to play while waiting for appeal of suspension


According to Billy Witz, Aroldis Chapman would not be allowed to play while waiting for the appeal of his suspension under the domestic violence policy. No suspension has been announced but it could come any day now. Chapman said yesterday he plans to appeal any discipline.

Now just because Chapman would have to serve his suspension while waiting for the appeal does not mean the appeal would be a waste of time. The suspension could be shortened, in which case I assume he would be retroactively credited with service time and salary, and each game equals roughly $70,000 in Chapman’s pocket.

Players who appeal performance-enhancing drug suspensions or on-field behavior suspensions (charging the mound, etc.) are allowed to play while waiting for their appeal to be heard. I guess the goal with the domestic violence policy is to make sure the player can’t drag the process out any long than it needs to be.

Witz says in addition to a suspension, Chapman could be entered into a treatment program that would possibly require him to relinquish his guns or even find a new place to live so he’s no longer near his girlfriend. If he doesn’t comply with the treatment program, he could suspended even further.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has indicated any suspension for Chapman would likely be announced before Opening Day, but that’s not a guarantee. Manfred told Mike Berardino he expects “some action” on Chapman’s case in the next couple of days, whatever that means. Jose Reyes and Yasiel Puig are also being investigated under the domestic violence policy.

The Yankees seem likely to lose their new closer for some length of time. Maybe a week or two, maybe a few months. Who knows? No player has ever been suspended under the domestic violence policy. There’s no precedent.

Guest Post: The bullpen has the potential to be special, but will it be better than last year’s?

The following is a guest post from Steven Simineri, whose work can be found at Double G Sports, among other places. He’s previously written guest posts on Chris Capuano and Ike Davis.

The new closer. (Presswire)
The new closer. (Presswire)

The Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman to go with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, giving New York all three of the relievers who struck out at least 100 batters in 2015 and arguably the strongest 1-2-3-relief punch since the 1990 Cincinnati Reds “Nasty Boys” trio of Norm Charlton, Randy Myers and Rob Dibble.

Last year, the troika of Chapman, Miller and Betances threw 212 innings, with 347 strikeouts and a 1.66 ERA. They ranked 1-2-3 in strikeouts per nine innings among all major-league relievers, all finishing in the top-7 for lowest opponents’ batting average, and there is no doubt that Chapman has brought a lot of attention toward the Yankee bullpen.

By talent and what you hear on sports-talk radio, the 2016 Yankees bullpen should be one of the best ever and better than the 2015 Yankees bullpen. But on performance, it’ll be hard for this coming year’s group to improve on the group that was. In fact, the Yankees last season were 66-3 when leading through 6, 73-2 when leading through 7, and 81-0 when leading after 8. Joe Girardi’s bullpen was tied for second in all of baseball with 5.3 fWAR. Additionally, by WPA (Win Probability Added), the Yankees bullpen ranked third, at +8.5.

The loss of Adam Warren and Justin Wilson, who combined for 96 1/3 quality relief innings and were worth 3.7 WAR last season, should not be underestimated and one could argue that the addition of Chapman is not as huge as it could have been, with Warren departing for Chicago and Wilson being shipped off to the Tigers.

Moving Warren hurt somewhat, but made sense because of the return. The North Carolina graduate made 17 starts last year and appeared in 26 other games out of the bullpen. He had a 3.29 ERA, the lowest of any pitcher on the team with over 100 innings. Despite yo-yoing between the bullpen and starting rotation, Warren posted an impressive 2.29 ERA and 4.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in relief.

While trading Warren for Starlin Castro was necessary to plug a hole at second base, moving Wilson to the Tigers for two mediocre Triple-A starters – Luis Cessa and Chad Green – seemed questionable. Certainly the two youngsters are under team control for a combined 12 seasons, but Wilson was also a key cog in the 2015 bullpen, posting a 2.69 FIP in 61 innings. He went 5-0 with a 3.10 ERA and 66 strikeouts. He was also able to get both lefties and righties out.

It’s also important to note that Chapman is essentially replacing Wilson. Both are hard throwing lefties with excellent strikeout numbers and the difference between their performances may not be as big as many might think. Wilson finished with a WPA of 2.58, while Chapman finished with a WPA of 2.59. While Chapman was worth 2.5 fWAR last year, Wilson wasn’t far off at 1.5 fWAR. Their Steamer projections also predict a similar one WAR split next season.

On Friday, Chapman and the Yankees avoided salary arbitration, agreeing to a one-year contract worth $11,325,000 — or more than seven times what Wilson will make (with two fewer years of control). Chapman is an upgrade, no question, but by losing the Warren and Wilson, the Yankees will be putting a lot more stress on the top of that pen. And that stress could shift entirely to Betances, Miller, and Chapman. With the two 28-year-olds gone, the question becomes who are now the Yankees’ middle relievers?

Of the organizational products, right-hander Bryan Mitchell and left-hander James Pazos likely will get the best looks. The 23-year old Mitchell can start or come out of the bullpen. Pazos, who appeared in 11 big league games and didn’t allow a run in five innings after Hal Steinbrenner included him in the list of untouchables before the July 31 trade deadline, appears to have a good shot of breaking camp with the big club.

Chasen Shreve and Jacob Lindgren are also left-handers like Wilson. Despite a solid rookie season where Shreve posted a 3.09 ERA, advanced stats suggest that he is good candidate for a sophomore slump and he imploded during the final month of the season. Lindgren, the team’s second-round selection in 2014, has only thrown seven big league innings and underwent elbow surgery last June.

Nick Rumbelow, Nick Goody and Branden Pinder, who all made cameos last season figure to be in the mix. Youngster Johnny Barbato, who was acquired from the Padres for Shawn Kelley, was put on the 40-man roster and perhaps he will get a shot to make the team. It wouldn’t even be shocking to see Kirby Yates, Vinnie Pestano or Anthony Swarzak soak up innings at some point.

Brian Cashman can take a plunge into free agency with a couple of interesting right-handed relievers available. Ground ball specialist Burke Badenhop is still unemployed as March approaches. Veterans Casey Janssen and Ross Ohlendorf can be had. They can extend a minor league contract to Long Island native Joe Nathan, who turned 41 over the winter and underwent Tommy John last April. They can even take a flier on former Met Vic Black, who has battled injuries and control issues.

The Yankees have gotten used to strong bullpens, with Girardi proving himself as a bullpen whisperer. In fact, according to how they’ve actually performed, the Yankees haven’t had a below-average bullpen in two decades. This year should obviously be no different and in the best-case scenario for New York, Betances and Miller lead a bridge to Chapman, turning games into a season-long six-inning affair.

The three-headed bullpen monster creates the potential for an all-time bullpen trio, but it’s no guarantee that this unit will be much better than last years.