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Report: Aroldis Chapman reaches new deal with Yankees

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Closer Aroldis Chapman has agreed to a new deal with the Yankees, adding another year and $18 million to his existing contract, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. Chapman could have opted out of his contract but the Yankees sweetened it in order to keep him around. He had two years and $30 million remaining.

Chapman, 31, is still a dominant closer, finishing this past season with 37 saves, a 2.21 ERA, and 85 strikeouts in 57 innings. The Yankees are losing Dellin Betances to free agency and could be without Tommy Kahnle following the 2020 season as well as Zach Britton if he opts out. Chapman’s return helps the Yankees maintain a dominant back of the bullpen in the near future.

There was some thought that the Yankees would be content to let Chapman opt out and use the freed-up payroll space to pursue one of the bigger free agents. With the flamethrowing lefty back in the bullpen, one wonders if the recently budget-conscious Yankees will still try to make a free agent splash.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).