Aroldis Chapman to Cubs: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 25, 2016

New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman delivers a pitch during the ninth inningof a baseball game Thursday, June 9, 2016, in New York. The Yankees won 6-3. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Months after acquiring him in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Yankees shipped closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs on Monday.

The Cubs announced they had parted with Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Adam Warren and Rashad Crawford in exchange for Chapman. Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball first reported the deal. 

Torres and McKinney are the most notable inclusions in the deal. Torres ranked first in both Baseball Prospectus' and Baseball America's top-10 rankings of the Cubs' minor league organization. McKinney, meanwhile, was fourth on BP and seventh on BA.

Sports on Earth commended the work of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman:

Sports on Earth @SportsonEarth

Brian Cashman right about now. #Yanks #Cubs https://t.co/17eSr20k1q

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Cubs do not have an agreement on a contract extension with Chapman, noting the Yankees "tried themselves, and [were] rebuffed." Chapman will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season if he doesn't sign an extension with Chicago.

According to YES Network's Jack Curry, the Yankees are open to signing Chapman in the offseason, and the closer said, "Oh, yeah," when asked whether he'd consider a reunion in New York City.

When the Yankees landed Chapman, they looked to have a historically great bullpen on their hands. Dellin Betances was one of MLB's best setup men in 2014 and 2015, and Andrew Miller saved 36 games last season after becoming a dominant late-inning reliever. Adding Chapman to the mix was almost unfair.

MLB suspended the four-time All-Star, though, for the first 30 games of the 2016 season after he violated the league's and players' union's joint policy on domestic violence.

He returned on May 9 against the Kansas City Royals, going one inning and allowing one earned run on two hits:

After shaking off the rust, Chapman picked up where he left off in 2015. He has appeared in 31 games, converting 20 saves and posting a 2.01 ERA. In addition, his FIP (1.93) and xFIP (2.38) are also lower than their 2015 equivalents (1.94 FIP, 2.49 xFIP), per FanGraphs.

One of the bigger concerns with hard-throwing relievers like Chapman is they tend to have smaller windows of dominance than those who rely less on overpowering stuff.

Craig Kimbrel, 28, is starting to level off. Francisco Rodriguez, 34, began declining as an elite closer in his age-27 season but managed to rejuvenate his MLB career following an adjustment to his approach. Brian Wilson's fall with the San Francisco Giants came just as swiftly as his rise.

In 2012, Bill Petti of FanGraphs found that relief pitchers generally age less gracefully than starting pitchers. Relievers start losing velocity at a younger age, and the effect is more pronounced, as their walks and home runs allowed begin increasing significantly.

While Chapman, 28, is nearing the point at which the aging curve starts becoming an issue, he's showing few signs of slowing down. Opposing hitters are having slightly more success against his slider, but his fastball remains as dominant as ever.

Here's a look at Chapman's batting average, slugging percentage and isolated power against this year by pitch type, per Brooks Baseball:

Aroldis Chapman—Opposing Hitter Outcomes by Pitch Type (2016)
Total Pitches4288220
Batting Average.163.214.143
Slugging Percentage.228.500.429
Isolated Power.065.286.286
Source: Brooks Baseball

For the Cubs, acquiring Chapman is a no-brainer. Chicago finds itself in a similar position to where the Yankees were to start the year. Its bullpen is strong even without Chapman, as Hector Rondon has firmly established himself as a legitimate MLB closer over the last three years.

The addition of Chapman takes what was already an asset for the team and makes it even better. The one-two punch of Rondon and Chapman at the end of games will be nearly unstoppable.

ESPN.com's Dan Szymborski questioned, however, the value of adding Chapman:

Dan Szymborski @DSzymborski

The Cubs are 55-1 going into the 9th with lead, 53-1 going into 8th, 53-5 into 7th. The upside for *any* reliever add is limited.

Dan Szymborski @DSzymborski

Chapman could literally allow zero runs as a Cubs in August, September, and October and most of the time it doesn't change outcome.

Heyman countered that winning a World Series would make trading for Chapman worth it:

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

can't blame cubs. they havent won in 108 years. silly to fret over a teen-aged shortstop when it's time break the jinx.

Once considered the World Series favorite, the Cubs leveled off a bit, going 18-20 in June and the first half of July before the All-Star break. Chicago needed a spark to rekindle the momentum it had in April and May, which trading for Chapman should provide.

On the other side, the Yankees can afford to part with Chapman. An elite-level closer, especially one who is set to be a free agent at the end of the year, is more of a luxury than a necessity for a team on the outskirts of the MLB playoff picture. According to Baseball Prospectus, New York only has a 7.5 percent chance of reaching the postseason.

The Yankees' fate will likely be the same without Chapman as it would've been with him. By making this deal, New York at least received a handful of assets for the future rather than potentially watching the left-hander leave in free agency at the end of the year.


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