The Yankees acquired left-handed power closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, in a move that City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has since denounced as "very disturbing" in light of domestic abuse allegations against the star pitcher.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 28, 2015
Earlier this month, Chapman, 27, was accused of choking his ex-girlfriend and firing gunshots in her vicinity. An All-Star for the last four years consecutively, Chapman's trade value dropped "significantly" when the domestic abuse allegations emerged, according to a post on MLB.com. The Dodgers, reportedly in negotiations with the Reds to trade for Chapman, backed out soon after the allegations were first reported.
The pitcher earned $8.05 million in 2015, according to MLB.
"I think it was really wrong for the Yankees to have signed this guy on," Mark-Viverito told reporters earlier this week. "We all want the Yankees to do well, but at the expense of what? We have unfortunately very high statistics of domestic violence in the Bronx. In the city we've seen a rise, and so it's something that we need to take a stand on."
The speaker, whose district includes parts of the South Bronx near Yankee Stadium, added, "I would consider not going to a Yankees game [because of this trade]. As a woman, I'm offended by it."
"Certainly there are some serious issues here that are in play," Yankees General manager Brian Cashman said in a statement to MLB. "I think it's certainly reflected in some of the acquisition price. There's risk, and I understand that."
While the Yankees have long tried to cultivate a clean-shaven conservative image, the NY Times points out that they have paid for controversial talent in the past. Like Darryl Strawberry, who was acquired in the 90s despite two domestic abuse cases plus allegations of substance abuse and tax evasion.
— Kevin Kapfer (@KevinKapfer) December 29, 2015
Viewed strictly from a baseball perspective, the trade is an impressive one, securing what MLB.com has already described as a contender for "the most imposing bullpen in baseball." Alongside left-hander Andrew Miller and right-hander Dellin Betances, the Yankees will go into 2016 with the league's top three relievers in strikeouts.
"I've been thinking about how much fun it will be to have all three of us together," Betances told the News following Monday's announcement. "I'm thinking about that one game where we each pitch an inning and strike out all nine hitters we face."
Chapman allegedly fired eight shots inside the garage of his Florida home during a fight with his ex girlfriend on October 30th, Yahoo Sports reported.
His ex later told officers that Chapman "choked" her, although police did not see redness or evidence of injury to her neck. The police report indicates that Chapman admitted firing eight shots—seven that struck the concrete wall of his garage, and one that shot through a window into the adjacent field.
No arrests were made, however, due to "conflicting stories and a lack of cooperation from all parties involved,” according to the arrest report. The NY Times reports that Florida state prosecutors are considering pressing criminal charges regardless.
Major League Baseball announced a new domestic violence policy this summer, empowering the commissioner to suspend players who commit acts of domestic violence. Players can also be assigned to counseling and psychological evaluations.
While MLB has yet to complete its investigation into allegations against Chapman, the organization reported this week that the Yankees "conducted their own internal investigation, which satisfied them enough to move forward with the trade."
"We felt this was an opportunity for us to add a big arm to our bullpen, even though there are some things that are unresolved and we will respect that process as it plays out," Cashman said.
Asked for his input, Mayor de Blasio was less decisive than Mark-Viverito. "I think the Yankees often make controversial moves, and sometimes they don't pay off, but this one’s too early to tell," he told reporters on Tuesday.