Posted on July 25, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
After much speculation, multiple sources have confirmed that the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees have agreed to a trade involving closer Aroldis Chapman. The Cubs will acquire Chapman from the Yankees in exchange for four minor leaguers: shortstop Gleyber Torres, pitcher Adam Warren, outfielder Billy McKinney, and outfielder Rashad Crawford. Chicago will not sign Chapman to a contract extension, as the lefty is intent on testing free agency this winter. Regardless, both teams have a chance to benefit greatly from this transaction.
For the Cubs, the addition brings a much-desired boost to the bullpen. The Cuba native has a 2.01 ERA and 20 saves on the season with the Yankees and gives Chicago one of the most dominant closers in the game. With Chapman set to become the team’s closer, Hector Rondon, who owns 18 saves and a 1.95 ERA on the season, will become the team’s primary setup man. The acquisition of Chapman should conclude a mini-overhaul of the Chicago bullpen. Last week the Cubs acquired lefty Mike Montgomery, and on Sunday the team added 41-year old Joe Nathan to the bullpen.
Meanwhile, the Yankees get a rather impressive haul of prospects, as they officially begin the selling process a week before the non-waiver trade deadline. Torres is considered the biggest prize in the deal, as the 19-year old shortstop is rated by MLB.com as Chicago’s top prospect and the 24th best prospect overall. The teenager has already reached advanced-A, and while he’s not expected to reach the big leagues until the late stages of 2018 at the earliest, he has great potential. Torres could also profile at second base or third base long term, as the Yankees already have a highly-regarded shortstop playing in advanced-A in 21-year old Jorge Mateo.
McKinney is another highly-rated prospect, ranked the 75th best prospect in baseball by MLB.com. He was a first round pick of the Oakland A’s in 2013 before being traded to the Cubs alongside Addison Russell as part of a deadline deal for Jeff Samardzija two years ago. He’s put up modest numbers at double-A this year, but he has above-average raw power, and his stock will skyrocket once that power starts showing up in games. He profiles long term as a left fielder.
Meanwhile, the Yankees will get Warren back after sending him to Chicago this past winter in the trade for Starlin Castro, essentially making Castro a premature addition to the Chapman trade. Crawford, the final player in the trade, is a marginal prospect at best, although he has shown steady improvement from year to year during his minor league career.
The four players the Yankees received from the Cubs are far better than the four they gave up to acquire Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds. In that trade, the Yankees sent the Reds four mid-level prospects who figure to have average big league careers at best. However, not only do they get Warren back from the Cubs, but in Torres and McKinney they receive two prospects who have a chance to be impact players at the major league level. Considering the fact that Chapman is intent on testing free agency and the Yankees are not serious playoff contenders this season, this is potentially a major coup for New York GM Brian Cashman.
Of course, despite giving up a considerable bounty, the trade may also pay off for the Cubs. Chapman can drastically alter the look of Chicago’s entire pitching staff, particularly in the postseason. Most considered the Cubs favorites in the National League before the trade, and that certainly remains the case with the addition of Chapman. If Chapman helps the Cubs break their epic World Series drought, the trade will undoubtedly be worthwhile for Chicago.