The Yankees fined their struggling relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman for an unexcused absence from a compulsory team workout Friday at Yankee Stadium, and he is not going to be on the team’s roster for its American League division series against the Cleveland Guardians, which begins Tuesday.
After the regular season ended Wednesday in Arlington, Texas, Chapman flew home to Miami for the team’s time without work Thursday. He selected to not return to Latest York for Friday’s practice, for which he had been scheduled to throw a live batting rehearsal, Manager Aaron Boone said.
“I used to be upset,” Boone said. He called Chapman’s excuse “not acceptable,” saying, “I believe he questioned whether he’s going to be on the roster or not, but he needed to be here.” Boone talked to Chapman by phone after Friday’s workout and told him to avoid the team for now.
Given his inconsistencies on the mound, Chapman’s status for the team’s first round of the playoffs had been unsure. In a season wherein he had two stints on the injured list, including one for an infection stemming from a leg tattoo, Chapman posted a 4.46 earned run average, had his highest walk rate in 11 years and lost the closer’s role to Clay Holmes.
“You’ve got to be all in at the moment of yr,” said Cashman, who also spoke with Chapman and his agent. “So he effectively made that sort of decision.”
Chapman was not immediately available for comment. A message was left for him together with his personal assistant Sunday.
As recently as last season, Chapman, 34, was an All-Star. But his trademark triple-digit velocity has eroded over time, and his strikeout rate and command worsened. Although opponents hit .188 against him this season, he walked 28 batters in 36⅓ innings.
The Yankees’ bullpen has been shaken by injuries this season, including to Wandy Peralta and Holmes, each of whom are expected back for the division series. (Holmes, though, had been sputtering of late after a stellar first half.) Without other bullpen options like Zack Britton, Chad Green, Michael King and Ron Marinaccio, Chapman was competing for a roster spot for the series against the Guardians.
Although the Yankees didn’t rule out Chapman for future playoff rounds should they advance, Cashman said that “future conversations” were needed and that the ultimate decision could be as much as Boone. But given the best way team officials spoke publicly about Chapman, it appears his time within the Bronx could also be over. Chapman is in the ultimate yr of his contract, which was prolonged after the 2019 season, and the Yankees had been harboring concerns about him.
Cashman, who has been the Yankees’ general manager since 1998, said he had never had a player not show up for a compulsory workout. He said he was shocked when he heard Chapman skipped Friday’s workout.
“If you add all the pieces up, it’s not surprising,” he said. “There’s some questions on whether he’s been all in or not for slightly while. He’s maintained verbally that he’s in, but his actions don’t match those words.”
Cashman declined to detail the team’s concerns about Chapman, who has spent six and a half years with the Yankees. He said most of Chapman’s time up to now with the Yankees was “exemplary.”
“If you’re used to being superhuman, and you then cope with adversity, obviously people cope with it in another way,” Cashman said. “And this yr was a struggle for him. At times you saw the flashes that there it’s. And there was other times it disappeared and he was fighting through it.”
Cashman continued: “This game’s hard. You don’t have to make it harder, by not showing as much as a compulsory workout, for yourself as you compete for a postseason, in addition to on your teammates, who’re in there right away fighting to be ready when called upon and attempting to put themselves in the most effective position so that they can have success for us and for our city and our fan base. That’s the job, and he selected to not be an element of that.”
Asked if the tattoo incident this season was an issue, Cashman said the Yankees were initially concerned Chapman received the correct treatment for the “serious infection.” He added: “I don’t recommend, and definitely hope, that every one athletes select to not get ink placed on in season.”
The Yankees acquired Chapman before the 2016 season, while he was being investigated for a domestic violence allegation. Chapman, who later served a 30-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s collectively bargained domestic violence policy, was traded by the Yankees to the Chicago Cubs midway through 2016, and he helped them win a World Series. He returned to the Yankees in the next off-season on a five-year, $86 million contract. During his time within the Bronx, he posted a 2.94 E.R.A. with 153 of his 315 profession saves.