You need to wonder if the lifespan of an elite MLB power closer is becoming more like an NFL running back.
First, you had the news this week Jeurys Familia was lost for at least three to four months after getting a blood clot removed in his shoulder and more than likely his next appearance for the Mets will be as Santa Claus at the team’s annual Holiday Party.
Not to be outdone, the Yankees big ticket acquisition, Aroldis Chapman, joined Familia on the 10-day disabled list with a rotator cuff soreness which will keep him out a “minimum of two weeks,” according to general manager Brian Cashman.
Chapman has been experiencing soreness since Apr. 26 when he started rubbing his shoulder at chilly Fenway Park. He received treatment, but it’s become too much for the closer, who now is going on a self.
“I was getting treatment, so I believed it was going to go away,” Chapman said through Yankee translator Marlon Abreu. “The cold weather, I thought, was affecting it a little bit. But eventually it got a little worse, so basically I had to say it was more than I can handle.”
Chapman said it wasn’t because of overuse by Joe Maddon during the playoffs last season and this happened before. ““It’s really hard to say that was the cause because not too long ago I felt great and I was pitching really well.”
But you really should wonder if these closers are just getting overused and cast away.
As tantalizing as this can be, power closers may not be the best investment for clubs. The Yankees gave Chapman a five-year, $86 million contract and around 45 days into that investment, he is on the disabled list. Although they are downplaying it, the Yankees must be concerned if they will get the best return on the dollar.
Many times, these pitching contracts tend to blow up in team’s faces. They are paying for past performance and not future returns. In simpler terms, cars devalue over time because of the wear and tear on the engine, however pitchers get their peek money after years are overuse and work. Even if they come out loud and clear and get their money, there’s still the wear and tear on the arm.
Although this seems to be a far less of a pressing issue than Familia’s on the long term, you would rather be in the Mets position, where they can let Familia walk in around 18 months, while the Yankees are stuck with Chapman for the long term.
Either way you must wonder about the investment value in these power closers, especially ones on good teams, who get used into October. Sure, these guys are like sports cars, but they have been raced for a lot of miles.
And eventually they will break down and get stuck.
It’s something both the Mets and Yankees learned this week. The hard way.