Back in early December there were reports from multiple national media outlets claiming that fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman had been traded from the Reds to the Dodgers for two high-ranking prospects. But the Dodgers called off that blockbuster swap just before it was due to be made official when they discovered a police report from October depicting an alleged domestic assault at Chapman’s mansion in Davie, Florida. No charges were ever filed due to a lack of cooperation from witnesses, but Chapman is believed to have pushed and choked his girlfriend in a downstairs theater room before firing off eight gunshots in his garage.
The revelation put a big dent in Chapman’s trade value and some people in the baseball industry even tried to suggest that he might suddenly be completely unmovable because of a looming suspension under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy.
Enter the New York Yankees, who agreed to ship four minor leaguers -- Caleb Cotham, Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo, and Tony Renda -- to Cincinnati just before the new year in exchange for Chapman and his personal baggage. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he and the other members of the Yankees’ front office performed due diligence on the Cuban left-hander and were prepared to accept any coming punishment from new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
That punishment finally came down on Tuesday afternoon, with Major League Baseball announcing that Chapman will receive a 30-game suspension beginning on Opening Day. Chapman can participate fully in spring training activities and he is even going to be allowed to appear in Grapefruit League games. He also gets to retain his impending free agent status for the winter of 2016 -- something that would have been affected had his suspension run near 45-50 games. Chapman accepted the sentence without an appeal.
Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances figure to share time at closer for the Yankees until Chapman is eligible for activation. Miller proved more than capable of that responsibility in 2015 -- his first year with New York -- posting a 2.04 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 100 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings while racking up 36 saves in 38 attempts. Betances was even more dominant, finishing with a 1.50 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 84 frames. He vultured nine saves.
The suspension gives a small fantasy bump to Miller and Betances, though the Yankees’ ninth-inning job should fall back to Chapman as soon as he is cleared to join the team. Or shortly thereafter. Chapman is still the top guy to draft here in standard non-holds leagues.
For player projections, mock drafts, strategy articles, hundreds of individual profiles, and much more, purchase the 2016 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide today. And keep it locked on the constantly-updated MLB player news page all spring for reports out of camps in Arizona and Florida.
Maddon Taps Arrieta For Opening Day
Arrieta won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award after going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 236/48 K/BB ratio in 229 innings. He registered a 0.41 ERA over his final dozen regular-season starts and then helped the Cubs to the National League Championship Series, where they fell in four games to the Mets.
Arrieta is being eased into action this spring after carrying such a heavy workload last year. He had never thrown more than 156 2/3 innings in a major league season, and his innings total from 2015 came out to a whopping 248 2/3. That’s something to keep in mind on draft day, but Arrieta’s upside is obviously that of a front-line, top-tier fantasy starter. He'll be one of the first pitchers off the board, and rightly so.
Royals Do Right By World Series MVP
Royals catcher Salvador Perez signed a ridiculously-team-friendly five-year, $7 million contract extension in the spring of 2012, having logged just 39 games behind the plate for Kansas City. 2016 was going to be the final guaranteed year under that deal, but the Royals also held club options on Perez for 2017 ($3.75 million), 2018 ($5 million), and 2019 ($6 million) -- all at bargain rates.
It was past time to do right by a player that has become a fan favorite, and the Royals announced Tuesday afternoon in Surprise, Arizona that they have reworked the 25-year-old’s existing contract to include $36 million in new guaranteed money. It’s officially a five-year, $52.5 million extension that will pay Perez a $3 million salary in 2017, $7.5 million in 2018, $10 million in 2019, and $13 million in both 2020 and 2021. He also received a $6 million signing bonus that will essentially boost his 2016 salary from $2 million to $8 million.
Perez set a career-high in home runs last season with 21 and he then earned World Series MVP honors as the Royals captured their first MLB championship since 1985. The three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove Award winner could be ready to take another step forward in the power department in 2016. Check out our full 2016 projection for him in the Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide.
In other Salvy news, he now has a horrible tattoo.
Quick Hits: Orioles starter Chris Tillman (hip) threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session Tuesday and reported no lingering issues … Eugenio Suarez went 2-for-3 with two RBI as the Reds beat the Indians in Tuesday’s Cactus League opener … Yasiel Puig is not expected to be suspended by Major League Baseball for a November domestic violence incident involving his sister … Giants outfielder Hunter Pence was diagnosed with inflammation in his right Achilles following an MRI on Monday … Phillies closer candidate David Hernandez pitched a perfect fourth inning against the Blue Jays in Tuesday’s Grapefruit League opener … Curtis Granderson (pink eye) returned to Mets camp on Tuesday and was able to work out with protective glasses … Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez (triceps) will play catch from a distance of 120 feet on Thursday … Edwin Encarnacion is expected to be held out of baseball activities for a couple more days after having a tooth removed … Cameron Maybin missed the Tigers’ Grapefruit League opener on Tuesday due to ongoing discomfort in his throwing shoulder … Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock (arm) is hoping to be cleared for game action by the end of the week … Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada (back) is expected to begin throwing off a mound in the next few days … Nelson Cruz will be held out of the Mariners’ Cactus League opener Wednesday due to mild knee soreness … Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt (elbow) has progressed to taking live batting practice … Nathan Eovaldi (groin) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Thursday … Marlins reliever Carter Capps underwent an MRI on his right elbow Tuesday after complaining of discomfort … Brett Gardner (wrist) is scheduled to hit in a batting cage on Wednesday … Twins manager Paul Molitor confirmed Tuesday that Tyler Duffey is locked into an Opening Day rotation spot … Indians manager Terry Francona indicated Tuesday that he has scrapped the idea of Carlos Santana batting leadoff … Adrian Gonzalez (neck) is expected to make his Cactus League debut on Friday … Mariners signed Cuban outfielder Guillermo Heredia to a one-year, $500,000 major league contract.