Aroldis Chapman Off Yankees’ Division Series Roster After No-Show

Aroldis Chapman Off Yankees' Division Series Roster After No-Show

The Yankees fined their struggling relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman for an unexcused absence from a mandatory team workout Friday at Yankee Stadium, and he will not be on the team’s roster for its American League division series against the Cleveland Guardians, which begins Tuesday.

After the regular season ended Wednesday in Arlington, Texas, Chapman flew home to Miami for the team’s day off Thursday. He chose not to return to New York for Friday’s practice, for which he had been scheduled to throw a live batting practice session, Manager Aaron Boone said.

“I was disappointed,” Boone said. He called Chapman’s excuse “not acceptable,” saying, “I think he questioned whether he’s going to be on the roster or not, but he needed to be here.” Boone talked to Chapman by phone after Friday’s workout and told him to stay away from the team for now.

Given his inconsistencies on the mound, Chapman’s status for the team’s first round of the playoffs had been in doubt. In a season in which he had two stints on the injured list, including one for an infection stemming from a leg tattoo, Chapman posted a 4.46 earned run average, had his highest walk rate in 11 years and lost the closer’s role to Clay Holmes.

“You’ve got to be all in at this time of year,” said Cashman, who also spoke with Chapman and his agent. He said the Yankees had yet to decide their first-round roster, adding, “So he effectively made that type of decision.”

Chapman was not immediately available for comment. A message was left for him with his personal assistant Sunday.

As recently as last season, Chapman, 34, was an All-Star. But his trademark triple-digit velocity has eroded over the years, and his strikeout rate and command worsened. Although opponents hit .188 against him this season, he walked 28 batters in 36⅓ innings.

The Yankees’ bullpen has been shaken by injuries this season, including to Wandy Peralta and Holmes, both of whom are expected back for the division series. (Holmes, though, had been sputtering of late after a stellar first half.) Without other bullpen options like Zack Britton, Chad Green, Michael King and Ron Marinaccio, Chapman was competing for a roster spot for the series against the Guardians.

Although the Yankees did not rule out Chapman for future playoff rounds should they advance, Cashman said that “future conversations” were needed and that the final decision would be up to Boone. But given the way team officials spoke publicly about Chapman, it appears his time in the Bronx may be over. Chapman is in the final year of his contract, which was extended after the 2019 season, and the Yankees had been harboring concerns about him.

Cashman, who has been the Yankees’ general manager since 1998, said he had never had a player not show up for a mandatory workout. He said he was shocked when he heard Chapman skipped Friday’s workout.

“When you add everything up, it’s not surprising,” he said. “There’s some questions about whether he’s been all in or not for a little while. He’s maintained verbally that he’s in, but his actions don’t match those words.”

Cashman declined to detail the team’s concerns about Chapman, who has spent six and a half years with the Yankees. He said most of Chapman’s time thus far with the Yankees was “exemplary.”

“When you’re used to being superhuman, and then you deal with adversity, obviously people deal with it differently,” Cashman said. “And this year was a struggle for him. At times you saw the flashes that there it is. And there was other times it disappeared and he was fighting through it.”

Cashman continued: “This game’s not easy. You don’t need to make it harder, by not showing up to a mandatory workout, for yourself as you compete for a postseason, as well as for your teammates, who are in there right now fighting to be ready when called upon and trying to put themselves in the best position so they can have success for us and for our city and our fan base. That’s the job, and he thing not to be a part of that.”

Asked if the tattoo incident this season was a problem, Cashman said the Yankees were initially concerned Chapman received the proper treatment for the “serious infection.” He added: “I don’t recommend, and certainly hope, that all athletes choose not to get ink put on in season.”

The Yankees acquired Chapman before the 2016 season, while he was being investigated for a domestic violence allegation. Chapman, who later served a 30-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s collectively bargained domestic violence policy, was traded by the Yankees to the Chicago Cubs midway through 2016, and he helped them win a World Series. He returned to the Yankees in the following off-season on a five-year, $86 million contract. During his time in the Bronx, he posted a 2.94 ERA with 153 of his 315 career saves.

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