Boston Red Sox: Impact of Aroldis Chapman trade on Red Sox


Where are the best interests of baseball in the recent Chapman transaction?

The acquisition of Aroldis Chapman by the New York Yankees has certainly registered in Boston and has reverberated throughout the known baseball universe. The trade appears to be one that is rather lopsided considering the extent of the premium talent – Chapman – involved. The prospects by all accounts are not part of any long-range New York plans. For Boston, it means a certain step backwards in the American League East as it represents a significant power shift.

There is a certain odor emanating from New York regarding this transaction and it has two accomplices: One is of course the Yankees and the other is the Commissioner of Baseball Robert Manfred.

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Now before we get into the usual “He is innocent until proven guilty” just put that on hold since I firmly agree. No dispute from me, but it does also bring into the equation just what the responsibility of Manfred should be? The Commissioner and his minions are “investigating” and that is exactly what they should do. Chapman may actually come out appearing as a baseball “Little Boy Blue.”

There is a clause known as “Best interest of baseball” that various commissioners have used to dictate arbitrary policy. That allows a certain discretion by – in this instance Manfred – to act against both clubs and players that he feels that may strike at the integrity and public trust in the game. A big shout out to Kenesaw Mountain Landis to play the Judge Dredd role of inquisitor and executioner.

The Red Sox have felt the weight of such a clause and that was an enforcement by Bowie Kuhn. Bowie was one of what in politics is referred to as a “Dough Face,” but he did scuttle a player sale by Charlie Finley of players to both the Red Sox and the Yankees and it was “in the best interests of baseball.”

Fay Vincent also invoked the same mantra with a suspension of George Steinbrenner for his rather dubious attempt to tarnish an employee – outfielder Dave Winfield. George was sent to suspenionville. And since I am on the best interest’s bandwagon just think Pete Rose and Bartlett Giamatti.

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The clause has been used repeatedly over the years to suspend players for one negative action or another and it is the ultimate weapon. So why is it suddenly out of the baseball tool box?

Manfred should have placed any transactions regarding Chapman on hold until all the legal dust and decisions by his office have been neatly lined up. Once a suspension is (or is not) in place, then Chapman can go wherever the Reds can trade him. If there are legal consequences – highly unlikely – then that is the risk a buyer must assume. Manfred should have simply stepped back and placed the Chapman conundrum into a temporary hold.

The Dodgers apparently have a slightly higher functioning ethical compass than the Yankees. For the Red Sox, a Chapman would certainly be welcomed and various articles have appeared stating such. It would be of interest to find out if the Red Sox actually were making any overtures in the last few weeks.

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So for the immediate the dynamics have changed significantly in the American League, unless, of course, Mr. Chapman becomes implicated to a greater degree or simply goes off the rails.