The Chicago Cubs, made a major move to acquire a new closer in a deal that may complicate matters for some Cubs fans.
There’s no doubt that Chapman is a valuable addition, but it comes at a cost.
Statistically Speaking examines the Cubs getting Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees.
2016 MLB STATS
2016 MINOR-LEAGUE STATS
|Gleyber Torres||CHC A||SS||94||356||9||47||19||.275||.359||.433||.791|
|Billy McKinney||CHC AA||OF||88||298||1||31||2||.252||.355||.322||.677|
|Rashad Crawford||CHC A||OF||83||329||3||30||22||.255||.327||.386||.713|
The Cubs Get: LHP Aroldis Chapman
Chapman, 28, is a brilliant closer, a fire-balling lefty who has saved 165 games over the past five seasons, ranking third in the major leagues over that time. He’s also struck out an astonishing 500 hitters in 287 innings (15.68 K/9), holding opponents to a .156 batting average.
He is unquestionably the hardest-throwing pitcher in baseball – his average, AVERAGE, fastball this season has been 100.1 MPH – and that has obviously served him well.
He’ll take over as the Cubs’ closer, moving Hector Rondon (who has a 1.95 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 18 saves in 37 innings) to the primary setup role.
The Cubs apparently have interest in getting Chapman signed to a long-term deal, which would make sense given the price of assets given to acquire him, but that deal hasn’t happened yet.
Of course, acquiring Aroldis Chapman, the pitcher, isn’t a problem. Trouble is, that doesn’t happen without acquiring Aroldis Chapman, the person, who was suspended for 30 games after assaulting his girlfriend in the offseason.
The Yankees Get: RHP Adam Warren, SS Gleyber Torres, OF Billy McKinney and OF Rashad Crawford
Warren is a 28-year-old right-hander who had been property of the Yankees until he was traded to the Cubs for 2B Starlin Castro in the offseason. Warren has struggled in the Cubs’ bullpen this year, posting a 5.91 ERA and 1.43 WHIP with 27 strikeouts and 19 walks in 35 innings. However, he has a 3.66 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 324 1/3 career innings, including 21 starts. He’ll be arbitration eligible in the offseason and, at the very least, is a useful bullpen arm for the Yankees, but he could even work his way into a fifth starter spot.
Torres, 19, is the prize of the deal for the Yankees. He’s a right-handed hitting shortstop who was ranked 41st among prospects by Baseball America before the season, then was up to 27th at midseason. Playing for Myrtle Beach at High Class-A ball, a level at which he is one of the youngest regular players, Torres is hitting .275 with 23 doubles and 19 stolen bases, with a .791 OPS in 94 games. He’s a few years away from the majors, but is a highly-regarded prospect.
McKinney is a 21-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder who has had a down season in Double-A, hitting .252 with a .677 OPS. He had a better track record in previous seasons, so is probably worth further development over the next year or two.
Crawford, 22, is a light-hitting outfielder, who has hit .255 with a .713 OPS and has 22 stolen bases in 83 gaes at High Class-A Myrtle Beach. Of the four players the Yankees received, Crawford is the least likely to make it as a major leaguer.
With Chapman leaving, Andrew Miller figures to return to the closer's role for the Yankees, though it's conceivable that he could be moved in another deal too, which would leave Dellin Betances as the next option to finish games for the Yankees. For a mediocre team, having an elite closer isn't the top priority.
Verdict: There is no doubt that adding Chapman improves the Cubs’ odds of winning the World Series this season, and that’s a big deal for a team that hasn’t won it all since 1908. In terms of players and prospects going to the Yankees, the Cubs paid a significant price, but not one that will likely leave them with any kind of significant regret.
The other issue is whether there is an element of the Cubs selling their souls to end the longest championship drought in North American pro sports. Teams want their players to be likeable (think of how many feel-good stories teams put out about what their players are doing behind the scenes) and, just as acquiring Chapman was for the Yankees this year, his presence makes the Cubs less likeable. Whether it’s right or not, if the Cubs win it all, Chapman’s transgressions will likely be forgotten, but the fact that there has been some blowback already is a sign of changing times.
Scott Cullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org