At best, Aroldis Chapman is unstable. A manageable sort of loose cannon. At worst, he’s violent, a danger not only to himself but to others. There’s a lot to try to handle here — more than we want to have to handle when we’re dealing with baseball players and baseball trades. We don’t want to have to consider this stuff, but here we are, and it can’t be avoided. Aroldis Chapman has been traded to the Yankees, for Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo, Caleb Cotham, and Tony Renda. Chapman would’ve been a Dodger by now, or maybe a member of the Red Sox, but for an off-field incident involving alleged violence and gunfire. Chapman wasn’t arrested, but he might still be suspended under MLB’s new domestic-violence policy. That part of this story is front and center. Were it not for the incident, Chapman wouldn’t be on the Yankees. Were it not for the incident, Chapman would’ve commanded a higher price.
I can’t tell you how you’re supposed to feel. I can’t tell you what Chapman did or didn’t do. At this point I bet even the parties involved couldn’t tell you exactly what Chapman did or didn’t do, given the memory’s tendency to warp. All that’s known is there was something ugly, and Chapman was in the middle of it, and the details caused some teams to back off. If you love the trade for the Yankees, that’s fine. If you don’t want to root for Chapman anymore, that’s fine. If you feel like it’s getting harder and harder to be a sports fan these days, that’s fine. The more we know our athletes, the more we know them as real people, and real people are complex, where sports are supposed to be simple. This isn’t what a lot of us signed up for.
Your job is to figure out how you feel. And how you want to feel, if it’s different. My job is to tell you about the baseball. I’m not qualified to do the other stuff. And here’s the reality of baseball: no team likes off-the-field concerns, or potential pending suspensions. Every team wants its 25 players to be saints. But character is only part of it, and when the talent level is high enough, teams will overlook everything else. Aroldis Chapman is one of the greatest per-inning pitchers on the planet. Of that there is zero question. There are questions about his character, but teams know this stuff blows over. And beyond that, you could say Chapman’s off-field problems created a market inefficiency. Just ask Brian Cashman:
“Given the circumstances that exist, the price point on the acquisition has been modified,”Cashman said. “We felt this was an opportunity to add a big arm to our bullpen.”
There you go. Sometimes executives are reluctant to share the whole truth. Cashman is more of a straight shooter, and that excerpt tells you everything. Chapman’s got some troubles. Those troubles scared off other teams. And that made it appealing for the Yankees to strike. As far as roster management is concerned, Chapman’s incident is practically a good thing. Value value value. Below, I’m going to write more about baseball. After all, there’s a transaction to analyze, and I have a job to do. Read, or don’t. I’m not here to judge you or anybody. I’m here to judge statistics, and Chapman has some awesome statistics.
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