This was Aroldis Chapman’s 2022: When the Yankees needed him most, he couldn’t throw strikes, lost time when he suffered an infection from a fresh tattoo, performed so badly in the second half of the season that he didn’t make the postseason roster, ticked off his teammates when he was a no-show for a postseason workout and was told by manager Aaron Boone to stay home after quitting on the team during the playoffs.
This is Aroldis Chapman’s 2023: He’ll probably be in demand at the trade deadline, thanks to a resurrection with the Kansas City Royals — a last-place team that likely will be selling many valuable parts. Here’s what former general manager Jim Bowden wrote in The Athletic:
Royals GM J.J. Picollo was criticized when he signed embattled left-handed reliever Aroldis Chapman in the offseason, but he made a smart decision. Chapman has cleaned up his off-the-field issues. He’s focused on turning around his career and has become a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. He’s posted a 2.84 ERA in 14 appearances, with 20 strikeouts and just six walks in 12 2/3 innings (and without a blown save in a bad outing last week versus Baltimore, those numbers would look much better). He looks like he’s back. Most contending teams will need bullpen help and although some will worry that Chapman will be a tough sell to their clubhouse, fans and ownership given his history, that won’t stop some team from making a move. A team will give him another chance, like the Royals did, because he could be a game changer in the backend of the bullpen for a contender.
In 14 games this season, Chapman is 1-2 with a 2.84 ERA. He has one save, in two opportunities, with 20 strikeouts in 12.2 innings. Batters are hitting .174 against him.
Chapman, 35, came to an agreement with the Royals on a one-year, $3.75M contract after his sour departure from the Yankees. He burned all bridges leading to the Bronx during the 2022 MLB playoffs, when he was a no-show for a workout at Yankee Stadium.
“He’s been lights out,” acting manager Paul Hoover told the Kansas City Star earlier this season. “We’ve seen it … from the beginning. The velo is there, the slider, the split. And for him off of last year, getting back to form of who he has been his whole career has been really good for him and for us.”
Chapman’s 316 career saves over 13 MLB seasons ranks third among active pitchers and 24th all-time, but while he was on the injured list with Achilles tendinitis last season, he lost the closer’s job to Clay Holmes.
When Chapman bolted the Yankees during the postseason last year, angry over not making the postseason roster, NJ Advance Media’s Bob Klapisch said: Good riddance.