During the regular season Joe Kelly went from reliever to fill-in starter for the Cardinals, pitching so well that he grabbed a full-time spot, and now he’s starting Game 1 of the NLCS.
St. Louis announced its rotation with Kelly in Game 1, followed by Michael Wacha in Game 2 and Adam Wainwright in Game 3. That means standout rookie Shelby Miller will once again be relegated to the bullpen, where he threw just one inning in the NLDS.
Kelly will match up against Zack Greinke in the series opener versus the Dodgers, setting up a Wacha-Clayton Kershaw duel in Game 2. Kelly, who has a 3.03 ERA in 31 career starts since debuting last season, tossed 5.1 innings of three-run ball versus the Pirates in Game 3 of the NLDS.
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.