The New York Yankees aren’t looking to make a reclamation project out of Aroldis Chapman. This isn't George Steinbrenner having a soft spot for Doc Gooden or Darryl Strawberry or Billy Martin or even Steve Howe.
And it’s not because they think Chapman was unjustly accused of domestic violence by his girlfriend in October, or railroaded by a small-town police force looking to add a big-name notch to its gun belts.
The Yankees traded for Chapman on Monday for one quite logical reason: Because it was too good a deal to pass up, even if he winds up starting his Yankees career on a suspension of anywhere from 30 to 60 days.
In fact, it could be the longer the suspension for Chapman, the better it is for the Yankees. But more on that later.
This was a simple case of the Cincinnati Reds holding a fire sale on a player whose value they apparently feared was about to plummet even further, and the Yankees scooping up a bargain.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman has lusted after the fireballing Cuban southpaw for years -- he even tried to get him at last year's trading deadline -- but the price was always too high.
Now, with Chapman under investigation by Major League Baseball for allegedly choking his girlfriend and then firing eight shots from a handgun into some furniture in his garage, the “price point," as Cashman so delicately put it on a Monday night conference call, had been “modified."
Surely, a quartet of minor leaguers -- pitchers Caleb Cotham and Rookie Davis, and infielders Eric Jagielo (a first-round pick for the Yankees in the 2013 draft) and Tony Renda -- was hardly too much to ask for probably the most overpowering relief pitcher in the game.
Sure, Cotham showed ability at the big league level and Jagielo and Davis are both highly rated prospects, but none was one of the Yankees' vaunted “untouchables" and, as Cashman loves to remind us, being a “prospect" only means you haven’t done anything yet.
Chapman, on the other hand, had “declared himself" -- another favored Cashman-ism -- over six seasons in which he struck out batters at an alarming rate -- 546 in 319 innings, which translates into more than 15 Ks per nine innings.
More importantly, his addition to an excellent bullpen that already features Andrew Miller at closer and Dellin Betances as the setup man evokes tantalizing memories of those late '90s Yankees teams that used the trio of Mike Stanton, Jeff Nelson and Mariano Rivera to effectively shorten games to six innings.
Even with a starting rotation riddled with question marks and an offense that relieves heavily on three hitters -- Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran -- more suited to Jurassic Park than Yankee Stadium, having those three arms locked and loaded for the end of a game changes almost everything.
Any game in which the Yankees can coax six innings out of a starter and four or more runs out of their offense is a game they will have a great chance of winning. A similar formula has worked out rather well for the Kansas City Royals, hasn't it?
And, by Cashman’s calculation, it might not even matter if the Yankees have to wait until mid-May, or later, to unleash their three-headed bullpen monster.
“To have Chapman and Miller and Betances is to have a real force at the back end of our bullpen," Cashman said.
There are questions about Chapman’s character and judgment -- according to a source who spoke to ESPN.com on condition of anonymity, Chapman’s 2-year-old baby was in the house at the time he allegedly was shooting up the furniture -- but let’s not get carried away with moralizing about the kind of people who play our games.
In a perfect world, they would all be model citizens. But in the world we live in, performance always takes precedence over behavior. And in truth, I have no idea whether Chapman is a good guy or a bad guy.
I do know he’s a terrific pitcher, and any baggage that he brings into the Yankees' clubhouse will be their problem, not mine or yours. Brian Cashman is no dope -- he said the Yankees did their “due diligence, to the best of our ability" -- and he knows he is taking a calculated gamble by trading for Chapman.
But it is really a low-risk/high-reward move. If Chapman gets suspended for 30 days, or even 45, the Yankees will still have Betances and Miller to provide a potent 1-2 punch for the first quarter of the season. Chapman’s arrival will be equal to the best midseason bullpen acquisition a team could hope to make.
And if baseball decides to bench him for 60 days, that could even work out better for the Yankees. Although it is unclear how many days of service time Chapman needs to qualify for free agency in 2017, it is pretty certain that losing 60 days would delay him from hitting the market for another year. In that case, the Yankees might get the better part of two seasons out of him at a relatively reasonable salary.
Bottom line is, the Yankees got a great pitcher and they got him cheap.
Anyway you look at it, it’s a win-win for the Yankees.
Or maybe in the case of Chapman, a save-save.