Breaking Down the Aroldis Chapman Trade

The New York Yankees have traded Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs.

For the second time in 7 months, the New York Yankees have made a trade involving Aroldis Chapman. Only this time, it is Chapman that is moving away from the Big Apple.

The New York Yankees have traded LHP Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for a package including SS Gleyber Torres, RHP Adam Warren, OF Billy McKinney, and OF Rashad Crawford.

Here’s Overtime’s analysis of the trade from both sides.

What the Cubs Acquried: (LHP Aroldis Chapman)

The Cubs instantly made their MLB club better today with the acquisition of Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is none other than the finest left-handed reliever in all of baseball right now.

“The Cuban Missle” is probably best known for his amazing fastball velocity and his bizarre delivery. Chapman averages about 99 mph on his fastball and regularly exceeds 100 mph. Chapman’s record velocity of 105 mph is simply mind-boggling. His sneaky southpaw delivery hides the ball well, and when he releases it at top speed, opposing hitters have no chance.
But there’s more to Chapman than just his blistering four-seamer. He throws a slider about 17% of the time and features it as a secondary strikeout pitch. Chapman has also experimented with a changeup that he features about 8% of the time that averages 88 mph and makes hitters sitting on the fastball look foolish.

Chapman only pitched 31.1 innings for the Yankees, but they sure were memorable. He struck out well over a batter per inning, showed improved control, and overall dominated games once he entered.

Chapman should become the Cubs’ closer, which would push Hector Rondon to the 7th or 8th inning, a place he is probably better suited for anyway. In fact, the Cubs’ bullpen combination of Joe Nathan, Mike Montgomery, Rondon, and Chapman is one of the scariest in the National League.

Chapman is a free agent to be, although there was talk of him potentially signing an extension with the Cubs upon the announcement of the trade. Whether he signs it now or later, Chapman will likely remain a Cub for the foreseeable future, although he has said that he’d like to return to the Yankees as well, which could make for an interesting offseason.

What the Yankees Acquired: (SS Gleyber Torres, RHP Adam Warren, OF Billy McKinney, OF Rashad Crawford)

There is a lot to be excited for here for Yankee fans! The haul for Chapman was significantly larger than most expected, and the Yankees also bolstered some valuable prospect depth.

The centerpiece of the trade was Torres, the Cubs’ consensus top prospect. Baseball America has even ranked Torres as high as the 27th-best prospect in all of baseball.

When I first heard that Chapman to the Cubs was gaining steam, the first name I thought of was Torres. However, I had a difficult time imagining that the Cubs would part with their top prospect.

Luckily, I was wrong.

Torres instantly becomes the Yankees’ top prospect.  The 6’1″, 175-lb. shortstop will be assigned to High-A Tampa, where he will split time at shortstop and second base with fellow prospect Jorge Mateo.

Torres, only 19, has a very high ceiling. He is projected to reach the bigs by 2018. He has a quick, mature batting approach according to MLB.com. Torres has hit .275 with a .359 OBP at High-A Myrtle Beach, and has popped 9 homers and swiped 19 bags.

Torres is a solid defensive shortstop through and through, but MLB.com projects that he can fit at either second base or third base as well. This is huge for the Yankees, who have a glut of SS/2B prospects, including Mateo, Tyler Wade, Wilkerman Garcia, and Kyle Holder.

And for those fans that worry about having too much of a good thing, I wouldn’t fret. Middle infielders are the toughest players to develop other than pitchers, and the Yankees have at least 3 blue-chip prospects as well as some stellar young MLB talent in Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro.

These sorts of organizational logjams tend to sort themselves out as prospects either fizzle out or get injured. The Yankees would’ve been crazy to pass up on Torres just because he is a shortstop.

Moving on to another piece of the trade, the Yankees re-acquired a familiar face in Adam Warren as well. Warren has had a trying year with the Cubs, even spending some time in the minors, but there is no doubt in my mind that he is one of the Yankees’ top arms right now.

Warren had been used as a swingman by the Yankees from 2013-2015, and he will probably slide back into his old role. Warren can either start or relieve, but it seems likely that he becomes the Yankees’ top middle relief option for now.

The Yankees struggled to find an adequate replacement for Warren after he was traded this offseason for Starlin Castro, and now the Yankees have the next-best thing: both Castro and Warren.

The other two prospects the Cubs added to the deal are far from throw-ins. Honestly, Torres and Warren for Chapman seems like a fair deal to me, but the Cubs decided to add in two more valuable pieces as well.

The first is outfielder Billy McKinney. McKinney was a former first-round pick that can play all three outfield positions and has reached the AA level. The 6’1″, 205-lb. 21-year-old should be a key player for the AA Trenton Thunder.

McKinney was described by the team at MLB.com as “one of the best pure hitters in the minors”, which is extremely enticing. McKinney showed plus power potential at the lower levels, but has become more of a high-OBP kind of hitter at AA.

McKinney was ranked the Cubs’ no. 5 prospect at the time of the trade.

The final player the Yankees acquired is center fielder Rashad Crawford. Crawford is a bit of a wild card at this stage, but he seems like the prototypical leadoff center fielder at his best.

He has hit .255 with 22 steals at High-A Myrtle Beach and is an excellent defensive center fielder. There isn’t much separating Crawford from the likes of Mason Williams, Jake Cave, Dustin Fowler, and Ben Gamel as lefty leadoff center fielders. Thus, the Yankees will want to explore trading at least one of these guys.

Winners and Losers:

This deal looks like an absolute steal for the Yankees at this point in time. For a player who could potentially only be a Cub for 3 months, the Yankees snagged two of the Cubs’ top prospects (including their best one), a valuable pitcher, and a young outfield prospect.

The presence of Warren ensures that the Yankees are not significantly worse than they were yesterday, as he can provide balance to the bullpen. This trade will go a long way in making the Yankees of 2019 and 2020 World Series contenders.

In essence, the Yankees have acquired Starlin Castro, Adam Warren, and some top Cubs prospects for Aroldis Chapman and the 4 middling prospects they traded to Cincinnati to acquire Chapman in the first place.

That is a net gain for the Bombers.

And as for the Cubs, they are getting the game’s best closer. But for how long? Even if Chapman re-signs, that is a lot of prospects to give away for his services.

If the Cubs win the World Series, this trade is a draw for both sides. But if the Cubs don’t win big in October, the Yankees have won this deal easily.

 

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