The New York Yankees have bolstered an already dominant bullpen by acquiring hard-throwing All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds for four minor leaguers, the teams announced Monday.
"We felt this was an opportunity for us to add a big arm to our bullpen," said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who already had flamethrowers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller at the back end of his bullpen.
If the Yankees keep all three, they would be the first team in MLB history to feature three pitchers who had at least 100 strikeouts in relief the season before, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The addition of Chapman sets up the possibility of a lockdown bullpen that can effectively shorten games to six innings, thereby reducing the demands on the Yankees' aging and shaky starting rotation.
But trading for Chapman comes with a real element of risk. A baseball source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN's Wallace Matthews that the Yankees made the trade knowing that both Florida law enforcement officials and Major League Baseball are continuing to investigate the Oct. 30 incident in which Chapman allegedly choked his girlfriend and then fired eight shots from a handgun in the garage of his Davie, Florida, home.
The source said the Yankees believe that Chapman, who was not charged with domestic violence because of insufficient evidence, might still be suspended by MLB for up to 45 days in connection with the gun incident.
"That was the risk they were willing to take," said the source, who requested anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. "If he has to sit out the first 30 or 45 days, [the Yankees] felt he was worth it."
Chapman became available after the Reds' deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers fell through three weeks ago during baseball's winter meetings, when news broke that Florida police investigated the accusation of domestic violence involving the Cuban left-hander.
According to a police report obtained by ESPN, Chapman's girlfriend accused him of pushing and choking her during a verbal altercation that began after she "found something on his phone that she did not like." Chapman told police he poked the woman on the shoulder and she fell to the ground.
More than a dozen police officers responded Oct. 30 to Chapman's home in Florida. No arrests were made because stories conflicted and witnesses failed to cooperate. The investigation was closed pending new evidence, according to the police report. After reports of the incident surfaced, the district attorney's office said it was still investigating.
MLB has indicated it will take as long as necessary to thoroughly vet the matter. The league also is investigating domestic violence incidents involving Colorado's Jose Reyes and the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig.
"Certainly, there are some serious issues here that are in play," Cashman said. "I acknowledge that's an area clearly of concern, and I think it certainly is reflective of some of the acquisition price, and there's risk, and I understand that."
Cashman said the Yankees have had interest in Chapman for several years, but a deal became affordable only when the price for the reliever dropped after the police report was made public.
Chapman gives the Yankees the top three relievers by strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings in the majors. Miller had 36 saves in his first year with New York, and Betances made his second straight All-Star team as the setup man.
Miller welcomed Chapman aboard Monday:
There was talk earlier in the offseason that the Yankees were possibly looking to move Miller for a starting pitcher, but Cashman is intent on keeping all three relievers as a "real force at the back of our bullpen."
"I'm sure we'll get a lot of interesting calls between now and whenever," Cashman said of potential trade offers.
Chapman, 27, is eligible for free agency after next year's World Series. The past season, he threw the 62 fastest pitches in the big leagues that ranged from 102.36 mph to 103.92 mph, according to Major League Baseball's Statcast computer system.
Since his 2010 debut, Chapman has thrown 1,694 pitches at 100 mph or faster. The Royals' Kelvin Herrera is No. 2 on that list with just 532.
Since defecting from Cuba in 2009, Chapman has spent the past six seasons with the Reds. In that time, he saved 146 games in 164 chances. He had a 1.63 ERA this year, when he struck out 116 in 66 1/3 innings. He was an All-Star in each of the past four seasons.
With the Reds undergoing a major retooling after a 98-loss season, Chapman joined Cincinnati stars Johnny Cueto, Todd Frazier and Mike Leake, who all have been dealt since July. The club appears to be looking to also move Brandon Phillips, but a trade to the Nationals fell through earlier in December.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.