Kris Bryant

2013 MLB Draft: Picks 2-5 – Cubs take third baseman Kris Bryant 2nd overall

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Cubs picked University of San Diego third baseman Kris Bryant with the second overall pick.
Bryant, a 6-foot-5 right-handed bat, was considered the best power hitter from the college ranks, smashing 31 homers to go along with a .329/.493/.820 line for San Diego this year. The question with him is defense, as some wonder if he’ll be able to stay at third base. With little organization depth at the position, the Cubs will have good reason to leave him at the hot corner for now.

Rockies picked University of Oklahoma RHP Jonathan Gray with the third pick.
There was some speculation that Gray would fall after testing positive for Adderall, but the Rockies couldn’t pass on a big-time arm capable of moving quickly. Gray throws a bit harder than Mark Appel, reaching the upper 90s, but his changeup is a mediocre third pitch that needs some work. He’s not quite as polished as Appel, but he could still reach the majors in 2014. Hopefully, he’ll work out better than the last two college right-handers the Rockies picked in the top 10: Casey Weathers (8th overall, 2007) and Greg Reynolds (2nd overall, 2006).

Twins selected high school RHP Kohl Stewart fourth overall in the draft.
Stewart, widely regarded as the top high school pitcher in the class, is also a find quarterback prospect, having committed to Texas A&M. Still, everyone seems to expect that he’ll sign. Stewart is a fastball-slider pitcher capable of throwing in the mid-90s. He joins an impressive stable of young Twins arms that includes offseason acquisitions Alex Meyer and Trevor May, along with former draft picks Kyle Gibson and Jose Berrios.

Indians picked high school outfielder Clint Frazier fifth overall.
A bit of a surprise here, but the Indians were probably hoping one of the top three would slip. Frazier isn’t a big guy, standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 190, but teams still think he’ll hit for power with wood bats. He also gets rave reviews for makeup. As a high school bat, he doesn’t figure to move quickly.

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 excaption 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.