Several times in the past few weeks Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has avoided saying that Frank Francisco has the closer job locked down following a rough 2012, but manger Terry Collins said just that yesterday.
“He is the closer,” Collins said, via Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. “We saw last year when he is right, he is good. I think he looks good. He is in the right frame of mind.”
Last year Francisco posted a 5.53 ERA in 42 innings, allowing opponents to hit .269 with a .791 OPS while walking 4.5 batters per nine innings, so “we saw last year when he is right, he is good” is some pretty strong manager-speak.
Francisco also underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow in December, but declared himself ready to go yesterday and made it clear that he’s confident in retaining ninth-inning duties. Of course, a better question might be how long Collins is willing to stick with Francisco should he struggle again, because with a $6.5 million salary giving him another chance as closer certainly isn’t shocking.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that there is a “one million percent” chance Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman will opt out once the season ends.
Just going by the math this makes perfect sense, of course.
Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million deal with the Yankees before the 2017 season. Pursuant to the terms of the deal he’ll make $15 million a year in 2020 and 2021 (he was given an $11 million signing bonus that was finished being paid out last year). This past season the qualifying offer was $17.9 million. Craig Kimbrel of the Cubs just signed a deal that will pay him $16 million in 2020, 2021, and 2022 (he’s making a prorated $16 million this year). Other top closer salaries at the moment include Kenley Jansen ($19,333,334); and Wade Davis ($18 million).
It’s fair to say that Chapman fits into that group and, I think it’s safe to say, more teams would take him than those guys if they were all freely available. As such, Chapman opting out to get more money makes all kinds of sense. Heck, opting out, getting slapped with a qualifying offer, accepting it and then hitting the market unencumbered after the 2020 season would stand him in better financial stead than if he didn’t opt-out in the first place.
The question is whether the Yankees will let it get that far or whether they’ll approach him to renegotiate the final couple of years on the deal or to add some years onto the back of it. If they’re smart they will.