After much discussion and the Yankees' own fact-gathering investigation, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner agreed the potential benefit of having Chapman in their bullpen was worth delicately handling the hurler's off-field actions and any possible discipline stemming from them.
"We talked through all of it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday. "I would just state that he is going to be playing in the Majors this year. He's going to play for somebody, this year, performing and working, not denied work, and so we made the determination that he would be here."
• Chapman reports, will appeal if suspended
Chapman was acquired from Cincinnati for four players on Dec. 28, several weeks after a trade with the Dodgers fell through in the wake of an Oct. 8 incident involving Chapman's girlfriend, during which the pitcher allegedly fired eight gunshots into the garage of his home in Davie.
No criminal charges were filed following investigations by the Davie Police Department and the Office of the State Attorney, citing conflicting accounts and insufficient evidence. Chapman is still awaiting word from Major League Baseball on a potential suspension under the league's new domestic-violence policy.
"I think there's an expectation of conduct and how you're supposed to handle situations that maybe in the court of law is different than the court of Major League Baseball's opinion, or the Players Association's opinion, or the public's opinion," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I understand that. I think we have a responsibility as athletes on the way we present ourselves on and off the field, and I'm OK with that."
In addressing the Chapman situation, Cashman said it was decided to be direct and straightforward when communicating to the fan base throughout the whole process.
"We didn't run from it when we acquired him, stated exactly what it was, but then there's not much more you can say," Cashman said. "The issues aren't resolved yet in terms of the eyes of baseball. They obviously are resolved at the time of the acquisition as a criminal case that was open, it's now closed. So just say what you can, speak about what you know, don't speak about what you don't know and then that's it."
The incident has on-field implications as well, with the Yankees preparing for the possibility that Chapman could miss a portion of the schedule. Under that scenario, Andrew Miller would handle the ninth inning, returning to a role that saw him earn the Mariano Rivera Award as the American League's top closer last year.
"We'll let Major League Baseball handle that and just wait to see," Girardi said. "It's hypothetical to predict what's going to happen. We felt that when we acquired [Chapman], he had been a closer most of his career and that's where we would put him. I understand it's a very sensitive issue and we'll be sensitive about it."