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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Aroldis Chapman’s biggest asset to Yankees may be trade value

New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman answers

New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman answers a question during a press conference at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, May 8, 2016. Photo Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

Aroldis Chapman is excited. Joe Girardi is excited. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller are excited.

On Monday, finally, the Yankees’ mega-uber-super bullpen will be unveiled. Chapman’s season-opening suspension for violating baseball’s domestic-abuse policy will be over and he will slide into the closer’s role ahead of Miller and Betances.

“Amazing,” Chapman said Sunday about the tantalizingly talented trio.

Yankees fans no doubt will be excited when Chapman comes out of the bullpen and fires his 100-mph heat. If you blink, you might miss it.

The same could be said for Chapman’s Yankees career.

It’s no secret that the Yankees got Chapman from the Reds for about 50 cents on the dollar in December because of his then-pending domestic-violence case. Chapman ultimately was not charged with a crime for the Oct. 30, 2015, incident but was suspended by commissioner Rob Manfred.

Chapman’s value again will be sky-high, and if the Yankees are not able to turn around their season, they might want to take advantage of that. Sunday night’s 5-1 loss to the Red Sox dropped them to 11-18.

There’s plenty of time for the Yankees to get back into the race(s). But if they don’t, Chapman’s biggest contribution to his new team might end up being what they can get for him in a June or July trade.

First guess: Quite a lot.

Even though it’s only May, the wolves already are waiting outside general manager Brian Cashman’s door for the Yankees to throw up the white flag. Chapman could be the difference-maker in just about every divisional and wild-card race.

Cashman, whose first goal is to get the Yankees headed in the right direction, could be a king-maker for the Nationals, or the Cubs, or the Dodgers, or the Rangers, or even (gulp) the Mets, who could team Chapman with Jeurys Familia for a shutdown twosome.

Don’t kid yourself: The (well-founded) speculation already has begun.

Just this past weekend, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal said, “It’s likely the Nats would be a player for Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller if the Yankees make them available.”

Other interested teams could include any contending club that lacks a proven closer or wants to double up just like the Yankees are trying to triple up. So that’s basically everyone.

The problem for the Yankees from the day they acquired Chapman is it doesn’t matter much if you have shiny hood ornaments if your engine doesn’t start. Or if you have four flat tires. Or whatever auto-related metaphor you prefer.

Remember, having Betances/ Miller/Chapman would not have mattered in the Yankees’ 3-0 loss to Houston in last year’s wild-card game. It wouldn’t have mattered Sunday night, as they were held to three hits. In fact, it wouldn’t have mattered in many of their 2016 losses in which the starting pitching was so-so and the offense was so-so bad.

There’s a reason the best starting pitchers make $30 million a season and the best relievers make $15 million. Starting pitching still is more valuable over the long regular season.

But for a two- or three-month period, or in the postseason, there may be no more valuable rental trade chip than Chapman, who will be a free agent at season’s end. If this is truly going to be a lost season, then getting young talent for Chapman would go a long way toward providing a better future in the Bronx.

So enjoy his Yankees career while you can. Like his pitches, it could be over really fast.

New York Sports