NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — It increasingly seems as if a reunion between the Yankees and closer Aroldis Chapman is, to quote one opposing executive Monday, “inevitable.”
The prevailing thought in the industry is that it’s just a matter of the details falling into place. The Yankees, who targeted Chapman from the start of free agency, haven’t necessarily given off that vibe, though.
General manager Brian Cashman said Monday that “we have been pursuing” the closer. They also had been in touch with free agents Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon, who agreed to a four-year, $62-million deal with the Giants on Monday. That eliminated one of the teams that was after Chapman.
The Dodgers and Marlins also have an interest in Chapman.
Jansen, a former Dodger, would cost the Yankees a draft pick, whereas Chapman, because he was traded during the season, would not. “Our preference is to retain the pick if possible,” Cashman said. “Doesn’t mean it’s going to play out that way, but that’s our preference.”
Chapman, 28, posted a 2.01 ERA with 20 saves in 31 appearances with the Yankees before being dealt to the Cubs. He saved 16 games for the World Series champions, posting a 1.01 ERA in 28 appearances.
“The attraction to him is we know he can pitch in New York and he doesn’t have a draft pick attached,” Cashman said. “So then it just comes down to money and term. We’ll compete to a certain level and we’ll see if that’s good enough.”
Chapman spoke publicly for the first time this offseason to a reporter on Monday, telling ESPN he is looking for a six-year deal.
“I know that doesn’t mean that I will get it, but that’s what I would like to sign,” he said. “There are rumors out there that I requested $100 million, and that’s not true at all. I believe that if you deserve something, you don’t ask for it.”
Said Cashman: “Hey, you’re in free agency and he’s going to try and get everything he possibly can. That’s just the way it works. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, so see where the market takes the process.”
Exactly how high the Yankees are willing to go remains to be seen. There’s little chance they would give Chapman six years, and a package worth $100 million also is unlikely. Some kind of deal in the $85-million range, maybe a tick more, can’t be ruled out.
“I wouldn’t say what we’re comfortable doing,” Cashman said. “We have been pursuing Chapman, we also have been talking to Jansen, and there’s some trade opportunities as well. Or there’s also staying in-house because we have Dellin Betances and we have some other arms. Not sure how it’s going to play out. We’re going to compete to a certain extent, and if we win the day, we’ll have maybe a new closer. If we don’t win the day, we’ll stay with the current closer.”
A source said the Yankees have been in contact with the Royals about closer Wade Davis.
Cashman also is in the market for rotation help but did not sound optimistic. One of the weakest free-agent classes in years became weaker Monday when Rich Hill, in whom the Yankees had an interest, signed a three-year, $48-million deal with the Dodgers. Cashman has said Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are “locked” into the rotation and that Bryan Mitchell, Adam Warren, Luis Cessa, Chad Green and Luis Severino will compete for the two open spots during spring training.
“I think it’s less likely that we end up with a starter,” Cashman said. “It’s a tough market to be finding one in . . . Is there interest to improve upon [what we have]? Of course there is. Is there a realistic option? I think that’s more likely not the case.”