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Rapid Reaction: Aroldis Chapman Traded to Cubs

Cubs Get: Aroldis Chapman (3-0, 2.01 ERA, 20 SV, .89 WHIP)

Yankees Get: SS Gleybar Torres (.275/.359/.433, 9 HR, 47 RBI in High A), Adam Warren (3-2, 5.91 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 5.83 FIP), OF Billy McKinney (.252/.355/.322, 1 HR, 31 RBI in AA), and PTBN

It’s no surprise the Cubs emerged out of the crop of teams in contention for the best closer not just on the market — but in all of baseball right now — Aroldis Chapman. Here’s a nice stat to put his ability in perspective: Since 2010, he has thrown 1,513 pitches at 100 MPH or faster, more than next 18 pitchers on list combined (according to SportsCenter).

He was a luxury for the New York Yankees, who already have two of the best relievers in the game in Dellin Betances (2-4, 2.57 ERA, .98 WHIP) and Andrew Miller (6-1, 1.45 ERA, .76 WHIP). The former is 28 years old and has three years left of possible arbitration, and the latter is 31 and under team control for the next two years.

Even though New York has sputtered out this season (50-48, 7.5 GB in the Al East, 4.5 GB in the Wild Card) and hasn’t won a playoff game since 2011, those two were off the table. However, at least one trade with the future in mind was expected.

The Yankees have a staggering $140 million (maybe more) coming off the books by the 2018 offseason, when they’ll be free of the contracts of Alex Rodrigeuz, CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeria, and possibly Brian McCann and Brett Gardner. The focus should be contending after that aging core group is gone, and trading Chapman for prospects would be in service of that.

This afternoon, the Cubs sent their top prospect, SS Gleybar Torres, outfielder Billy McKinney, starter/long reliever Adam Warren, and a player to be named in exchange for Chapman. This trade fills a late-game bullpen hole for Chicago, and clears some of the expendable space at the top of a crowded farm system.

Chapman signed a 1 year/$11 million deal with the Yankees in 2015, and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Trading a top position-player prospect for a rental closer may seem a bit rash. However, the Cubs are dealing with a bottleneck at many of their top positions.

At just 23 and 22, shortstops Javier Báez and Addison Russell will occupy the position for the foreseeable future. Kris Bryant has third base locked down, and the outfield is crowded at both levels with Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Jason Heyward, Ian Happ, Eloy Jimenez…you get the idea.

Losing Torres only puts a small dent into Chicago’s future plans while considerably improving the Yankees’. Jorge Mateo, New York’s other top shortstop prospect, has struggled this year in High A ball (.258/.314/.392, 6 HR, 36 RBI), so Torres acts an exciting alternative if Mateo continues to struggle.


TL;DR: This trade gives both teams something of value, but I’d give a slight edge to Chicago for now. New York’s new prospects won’t make a mark in the big leagues until at least 2018. Chicago’s farm system is still elite after losing three prospects, and an elite closer is just what they need. If the Cubs win the NL Pennant or World Series, Chapman will be a big reason why.



Grant Thomas View All

18 year old Washington sports fan and Penn State freshman. I'll cover the MLB, NFL, and NBA.

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