Rob Manfred handed down the Aroldis Chapman suspension yesterday, giving us a first look at what kind of teeth the MLB's new domestic violence policy is going to have. Chapman got 30 regular season games and said he will not appeal the suspension, which runs counter to what he said a week ago.. Chapman will be allowed to continue to participate in Spring Training activities but he will be out of action for over a month once the regular season starts next month, eligible to return on May 9th against the Royals. I've got a few different thoughts about the suspension, most of them unrelated to each other, and my brain isn't back to homeostasis after having to put on a really good cube monkey performance for the boss yesterday. So if it's alright, I'm going to dish these thoughts out in bite-sized chunks.
- My first reaction to the announcement was surprise. I actually expected Chapman to get fewer games, like 20. I thought the lack of charges filed would scare MLB and Manfred off from going heavy-handed on their first suspension under the new policy. I thought MLB wouldn't want to rock the boat with the players' union and drop a really high number, not when they had the Jose Reyes case to use to establish a steeper penalty benchmark for future cases. Good on them for not doing that and good on Chapman for not following through on his commitment to appeal. That wouldn't have been good for the first suspension case either and he deserved to be punished. I'm sure there was a deal made by both sides to come to the 30 games with no suspension, but whatever. You're naive if you don't think things like that happen.
- As far as the Yankees are concerned, I think they're just glad that the announcement has been made so they can formulate their plan to start the season without Chapman and move on. They clearly expected something like this from the minute they made the trade and they've got no shortage of relievers in camp, so that entire bullpen competition becomes even more interesting for the next month. I'm sure Hal and his stooges are bummed that the suspension isn't long enough to delay Chapman's free agency, but screw them. Now the Yankees know how long they'll be without their new closer and now they figure out how to cover for him until May 9th. Those are the more immediately important points from a 2016 Yankee perspective.
- It's worth noting that Chapman will not be allowed to play in MiL games while he's suspended, so he'll be going a month plus without any kind of real game action. He can use the team complex in Tampa to stay loose and stay sharp, but that's still not even remotely close to pitching in the 9th inning of a live Major League Baseball game. Will he be game-ready when the suspension is up? Will the Yankees send him on a quick MiL rehab assignment to knock off some rust? That's something they're going to have to think about.
- First pick for who could benefit most from Chapman's absence? Jacob Lindgren. He was most likely shut out of an Opening Day bullpen gig with Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Chasen Shreve already locked in, but if he's sharp in ST he could fill that lost lefty void for a month. We know Joe loves his lefties, and the Yankees didn't hesitate to promote Lindgren last year, so we already know how highly they think of him. I could see Lindgren sneaking in as the 7th reliever, using that first 30 games to show Joe something, and then maybe stick even when Chapman comes back as the middle relief/rotation injury situations play out.