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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Aroldis Chapman for Yasiel Puig?

Aroldis Chapman:
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Left, Throws: Left
Height: 6' 4", Weight: 215 lb.
Born: February 28, 1988 in Holguin, Holguin, Cuba (Age 28)

Yasiel Puig:
Position: Rightfielder
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6' 2", Weight: 240 lb.
Born: December 7, 1990 in Cienfuegos, Cienfuegos, Cuba (Age 25)

Aaron Hicks:
Position: Centerfielder
Bats: Both, Throws: Right
Height: 6' 1", Weight: 205 lb.
Born: October 2, 1989 in San Pedro, CA (Age 26)

Yankee general manager Brian Cashman acquired both Chapman and Hicks between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Cashman had passed on Puig when he was available as a free agent. Initially that looked like a big mistake but Puig's hitting has become worse each season: OPS+ declined annually: 159, 145, 110, 90 (132 career). Which, of course, is why there are rumors that the Dodgers are willing to trade Puig. That and Puig's bad attitude and habits.

But at least Puig has done something as a pro. Hicks career OPS+ is 76 (51 with the Yankees in 2016). Hicks failed over three seasons with the Twins. There's a reason the Twins let him go.

Chapman may be the fastest pitcher of all time. Career ERA+  182 (194 with Yankees in 28 innings). 586 SO in 347 career innings. But the most work you'll get out of him on average is one inning, alternate games. So for August and September, that's about 30 innings max. The Yankees have two other guys who do that at about the same effectiveness: Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Yankee fans have seen Chapman's act but not Puig's. Chapman is a free agent after this season. Puig becomes a free agent in 2020.

As a Yankee fan, I'd make the deal. To paraphrase Branch Rickey when he was general manager of the Pirates in the 1950s when dealing with a salary demand by his home run hitting champion Ralph Kiner: the Yankees can be .500 with Chapman or without him. The Yankees are mediocre and boring. Puig would bring some pizazz.

Playing for the Yankees or just playing in New York might jolt Puig into becoming the professional ball player that his talent suggests. He's still young enough to make this a reasonable gamble. He is not free but has several million dollars owed to him.

YearAgeTeamSalaryServTm(OpnDay)SourcesNotes/Other Sources
201221Los Angeles Dodgers$3,714,000?
201322Los Angeles Dodgers$3,714,000?contracts
201423Los Angeles Dodgers$3,714,0000.119contracts
201524Los Angeles Dodgers$6,214,0001.119contracts
201625Los Angeles Dodgers$7,214,0002.119
201726Los Angeles Dodgers$8,214,000
201827Los Angeles Dodgers$9,214,000
Earliest Arb Eligible: 2019, Earliest Free Agent: 2020
I say do the deal.

And it's silly to wait around for wonder boy Aaron Judge (born April 26, 1992), who has ZERO plate appearances (PA) in the major league. Judge at AAA: 630 PA, OPS .765. It's amazing that so many people continue to tout this guy based primarily on his height: 6'7".

Puig is less than a year and a half older than Judge. "Worst" case: Yanks have both playing corner outfield positions in 2017 ... and maybe even hitting home runs.

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