NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees bolstered an already dominant bullpen Monday, acquiring hard-throwing All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds for four minor leaguers.
Chapman became available after the Reds' deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers fell through during baseball's winter meetings three weeks ago when it was learned Florida police investigated an accusation of domestic violence involving the Cuban left-hander.
Major League Baseball is currently investigating and Chapman could face suspension under the league's new domestic violence policy.
"We felt this was an opportunity to add a big arm to our bullpen, even though there are some things that are unresolved," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a conference call. "And we will respect that process as it plays out."
Cashman said the Yankees have had interest in Chapman for several years, but a deal only became affordable when the price for the reliever dropped after the report was made public.
New York was able to protect its top minor leaguers in the deal, sending right-handers Caleb Cotham and Rookie Davis and infielders Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda to Cincinnati. Jagielo was New York's No. 1 pick in 2013 (26th overall).
The Yankees will have to wait to set up their enviable bullpen of Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances until the investigation is done.
MLB has indicated it will take as long as it needs to thoroughly vet the matter. The league is also investigating domestic violence incidents involving Colorado's Jose Reyes and the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig.
Davie, Florida, police said there was "insufficient evidence" to charge Chapman in the disturbance between the pitcher and his girlfriend at his South Florida home. The Davie Police Department report listed the Oct. 30 matter as closed.
But after the report's release earlier in the month, state prosecutors said they were examining the possibility of criminal charges.
"Certainly there are some serious issues here that are in play," Cashman said. "I acknowledge that's an area clearly of concern and I think it certainly is reflective of some of the acquisition price and there's risk, and I understand that." >> Read more...
The Yankees give up a heap of minor leaguers to land Chapman but not one of the "elite" prospects the club has claimed to want to keep in the system. Bringing Chapman on board makes the Yankees' backend of the bullpen even stronger than it was last season if this move is one without a follow-up involving Miller, who has been the subject of trade rumors the entire offseason.
The club must be willing to take the chance that Chapman's domestic violence case is going to be met with little or no consequence by MLB to pull the trigger. It's also evident that Chapman's issue did in fact bring the price down with Jaglieo and Davis being the best pieces of the bunch, both of whom are easily replaceable.
Where the Yankees go from here will be interesting. They have might have figured that the starting pitcher market (both free agent and trade) is not going to bear any fruit and they shored up the bullpen to aid them in shortening games. Or the Yankees might have an additional move coming in which they use Miller to acquire a starting pitcher leaving Betances and Chapman to finish up games. I'd suspect the Yankees would only trade Miller if they are confident Chapman will be handed at most a short suspension.
For now, the Yankees have greatly improved their roster on paper for a modest price; one that seems worth the risk. Until we know about a potential follow-up move or how long Chapman's possible suspension is, we can't discern whether this is a trade the Yankees won or not.
Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press