Jason Bay press conference highlights

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The Mets unveiled their newest bauble a couple of hours ago. After giving him a New York Rangers jersey with his name on it — seriously — Bay faced the press. The whole thing is here if you want to read it. Here are the highlights:

  • Asked about leaving the Sox, Bay said that he was open to the idea of returning to Boston at season’s end but that “what it boiled down to, I just think the Mets wanted me more”;
  • Bay said that the Mets were on his “short list.” Why? “The chance to win.”  I’m going to assume that was a covert tip to the media that Omar Minaya is going to be fired soon, because otherwise the statement simply wouldn’t make any sense;
  • Is he worried about the big Citi Field outfield? “For those of you who don’t know, and I’m sure most of you do,
    Pittsburgh is very spacious as well, and you play half your games on
    the road . . . I’m by no means Torii Hunter out there. I know that. But I still think I’m pretty good.”
  • Someone asked him if replacing Manny Ramirez in Boston will help “with what he’ll see in New York.” Bay was diplomatic. I wish, however, that he had said “yeah, because replacing Gary Sheffield’s rotting corpse and the misfit toys Jerry ran out there last year will be REALLY tough. Jeez!”
  • Bay said that between the first offer at the Winter Meetings and the time the deal was basically done was “a week or 10 days or something.”  I suppose everyone’s definition of a done deal differs a bit, but assuming things were essentially in place in the time frame Bay says they were, we all should apologize for our “this is taking forever; Bay doesn’t want to come to New York” snark.
  • He was asked what other teams were in the running for his services: “We can leave the second part of that question out. I don’t think we need to get into where I ultimately could have been.” Clearly the Mystery Team has Bay’s family held hostage and will only release them once the heat dies down. The Mystery Team doesn’t mess around. Mess you up, man.
  • What about that Gammons quote about how he would rather play in Beirut than Queens?  “I kind of heard about that around the way.”  “Around the way?” What, is Bay an extra on “The Wire?”  He goes on: “People have opinions — that’s fine. To say those were my opinions and that’s the way I felt, that hurts a little bit.”  Peter Groton Gammons! You’ve hurt Jason’s feelings! Now I want you to apologize this instant young man!
  • Asked about the state of his shoulder, which some feared would cause problems in his physical: “I actually never hurt my shoulder.”  Um, OK.  You know, I hate to continue to throw out conspiracy theories here, but the guy who was beating the Bay’s-physical-is-gonna-be-rough drum the hardest was Heyman. You don’t suppose that someone was whispering things to him about Bay’s shoulder in order to keep the Mets theoretically in play for a bit so some other high profile left field free agent could use them as a stalking horse, do you?  Nah, that would be crazy talk.

Anyway, Bay’s a Met now. Now on to the Bengie Molina sweepstakes.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.