The Chicago Cubs took a big step in their quest for a World Series title, trading for lights-out closer Aroldis Chapman on Monday. The Cubs sent several prospects to the New York Yankees for the Cuban flamethrower, including 19-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres.
The Yankees (51-48) trail the Blue Jays (56-44) by just 4.5 games in the AL Wild Card, but moving Chapman, who is a free agent after this season, was expected.
“When the Yankees traded for Chapman, I think one way people looked at it was, ‘Okay, they’re building this mega-bullpen,’ which they did, but he was a guy that was acquired to be traded,” Newsday MLB columnist David Lennon said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He was acquired for this moment. When (Brian) Cashman traded for him, he envisioned this day in late July when he was going to be able to flip him to a team and make a huge score as a result of it. It just so happened that his good buddy, Theo Epstein – for a Cubs team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908 – was the guy that came calling (for) a team desperate to get back to the World Series, a team desperate to win a World Series. And what do they do? They paid over the top for him.”
The Cubs sent Torres, along with pitcher Adam Warren and minor league outfielders Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford to New York.
“When you’re the Cubs, you can do that,” Lennon said. “You got a ton of money, you got a deep farm system. You can give up two prospects, another guy that could turn into a top prospect and give them back the reliever they loved in Adam Warren. You can do stuff like that. So I thought it was a deal the Cubs had to do.”
Chapman, who was suspended for the first 29 games of the season after violating MLB’s domestic-violence policy, is 3-0 with 20 saves, a 2.01 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP and 44 strikeouts in 33 and 1/3 innings.
He’s a valuable player, yes, but one the Yankees could afford to lose.
“From the Yankees’ perspective, it was a deal they couldn’t refuse,” Lennon said. “This is a team that wants to rebuild its farm system, wants to have chips maybe to have other deals down the line, and Chapman was a luxury. They have plenty in the back end of the bullpen if they want to keep it going with (Andrew) Miller and (Dellin) Betances. A week ago if you asked me, I would have said they should keep Miller, but the way this market is right now, I think they should move him – because they’re going to make another killing if they move Miller now to a team like the Nationals.”