Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman has been suspended 30 games without pay by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and will not appeal the decision. The suspension occurs under MLB's new domestic violence policy and stems from an alleged incident in October 2015.
In that incident, for which he will not face criminal charges, Chapman admitted to firing eight shots in the garage of his Miami home, and he also allegedly pushed and choked his girlfriend.
Chapman will lose roughly $1.7 million in salary while serving his suspension. He'll be allowed to pitch and work out with the team and pitch in spring training games. He will not be allowed to play during the regular season until May 9. Per ESPN's Jayson Stark, Chapman would be eligible to return May 9 even if they Yankees have one or more games rained out/postponed before that date. More:
Chapman also subject to meeting with treatment board, which can require counseling, forfeiture of guns, weapons.— Billy Witz (@billywitz) March 1, 2016
Manfred made the following comments in a statement released by MLB:
“I asked my staff to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the incident involving Aroldis Chapman on October 30, 2015. Much of the information regarding the incident has been made public through documents released by law enforcement. Mr. Chapman submitted to an in-person interview with counsel present. After reviewing the staff report, I found Mr. Chapman’s acknowledged conduct on that day to be inappropriate under the negotiated Policy, particularly his use of a firearm and the impact of that behavior on his partner. I am gratified that Mr. Chapman has taken responsibility for his conduct, that he has agreed not to appeal the 30-game suspension, and that he has agreed to comply with the confidential directives of the Joint Policy Board established under the parties’ Policy to ensure that a similar incident does not occur in the future.”
Chapman also released the following statement:
"Today, I accepted a 30 game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my actions on October 30, 2015. I want to be clear, I did not in any way harm my girlfriend that evening. However, I should have exercised better judgment with respect to certain actions, and for that I am sorry. The decision to accept a suspension, as opposed to appealing one, was made after careful consideration. I made this decision in an effort to minimize the distractions that an appeal would cause the Yankees, my new teammates and most importantly, my family. I have learned from this matter, and I look forward to being part of the Yankees’ quest for a 28th World Series title. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment."
And finally the official statement by the Yankees:
“The New York Yankees support the decision made by The Commissioner today. We are pleased that Aroldis has accepted this discipline.”
Chapman, who recently turned 28, has pitched to a 2.17 ERA with 146 saves across parts of six big-league seasons. Along the way, he's struck out 546 batters in 319 innings.
Now, some things to know ...
1. Chapman will still be eligible for free agency after the upcoming season.
Had Chapman's suspension been even lengthier, then it might have prevented him from accruing enough service time to be eligible for free agency next offseason. Since the suspension came in at 30 games, though, Chapman will be on track to hit the market after the 2016 season. If the suspension had run about 10 days longer, then Chapman would've been under Yankees control until the end of the 2017 season. In that sense, this is a bad day for the Yankees -- they lose Chapman for more than a month of the regular season but not long enough to keep him as an arb-eligible in 2017. Since Chapman agreed not to appeal as part of his discussions with the league, it's possible he was able to keep his free agency horizon in place because of that.
2. Jose Reyes' and Yasiel Puig's disciplinary decisions might be forthcoming.
Reyes of the Rockies is under investigation by MLB for an October incident in his Hawaii hotel room for which he was arrested. Given that Reyes was arrested and Chapman was not, it seems possible that Reyes will be facing a stiffer penalty from Manfred under the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. As for Puig, he's alleged to have pushed his sister before fighting with a bouncer at a Miami bar in November.
As for the timeline, the decision on Puig is likely the next to be announced. With Reyes, MLB will wait until the legal process plays out before making a determination.
3. The Yankees should be fine without Chapman for the first month of the season.
Chapman is of course an elite, shutdown closer, and he'll be missed as the Yankees play 15 of their first 30 games against AL East opponents. However, the Yankees also boast two other shutdown relievers in Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Miller has already proved to be flexible when it comes to his role on the Yankees, so he surely won't mind assuming the closer's role in Chapman's stead. Sure, Chapman's loss is a blow in terms of depth, as the loss of one key reliever of course cascades through the entire bullpen, but the Yankees are well-positioned when it comes to having top-tier relievers working the high-leverage innings. It's the setup innings that may become more tenuous, and Betances and Miller each slide up a notch in Chapman's absence.