8:48am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (links to Twitter) that the Cubs would send four players to the Yankees in the deal. In addition to Torres, former Yankees right-hander Adam Warren would likely return to New York. Jeimer Candelario, according to Sherman, is not in the deal. The trade has the approval of Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, Sherman notes. Rosenthal tweets that the trade is in its final stages, and the players have been agreed upon.
JULY 25, 8:32am: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that if the deal is completed, there will be “much more” than just Torres and another prospect in the deal. Jorge Soler will not be included in this trade, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com (on Twitter).
JULY 24, 8:06pm: There hasn’t been any talk of a contract extension between Chapman and the Cubs, Heyman reports (Twitter link). The trade is “looking likelier” but still not finalized, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets. Torres is one of “multiple” Cubs pieces that have been agreed upon as part of the deal.
7:04pm: The Yankees and Cubs are working towards a trade that would send star closer Aroldis Chapman to Chicago in exchange for top shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres and more, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports via Twitter. Sports Illustrated’s Kenny Ducey reported (Twitter link) earlier tonight that Torres was scratched from the lineup for Chicago’s High-A affiliate, and SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo adds that Torres was indeed removed due to ongoing trade talks.
The Chapman sweepstakes were seemingly coming to a peak earlier today when the Yankees reportedly asked the Cubs, Nationals, Indians and a mystery fourth team to submit their best final bids for Chapman’s services, with the Rangers and Dodgers also seemingly on the periphery of the market. Cleveland appeared to be in the lead since the Bombers apparently weren’t impressed by a Nats trade package headlined by pitching prospect Erick Fedde (as Joe Ross was seemingly the main piece the Yankees were seeking from Washington).
Adding Torres to their offer, however, could well be what has apparently put the Cubs into the driver’s seat. The 19-year-old shortstop was hailed as one of the top minor leaguers in baseball as per preseason top-100 rankings (ESPN’s Keith Law had Torres 15th, MLB.com had him 28th, and both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America had him 41st). Baseball America had Torres ranked as the top prospect in the Cubs’ system, no small feat given Chicago’s impressive amount of minor league depth.
Signed for a $1.7MM bonus as part of the Cubs’ international signing splurge in 2013, Torres has a .275/.359/.433 slash line and nine homers in 409 plate appearances at the high-A level this season. MLB.com’s scouting report gives him plus grades in everything but power-hitting, and some scouts believe even that will eventually manifest itself in the form of 15-homer power. While he could stick at shortstop, Torres could also move to third base or second, which may be his Yankee path as a long-term replacement for Chase Headley or Starlin Castro since Didi Gregorius has blossomed as New York’s regular shortstop.
With Chapman set for free agency this winter, Torres alone would’ve been quite a return for the Yankees. Torres and even more young talent is quite a heavy price for Chicago to pay, though the Cubs are one of the few teams with enough position player depth at both the major and minor league levels to afford surrendering a top prospect like Torres for a rental player.
Of course, given how the bullpen is arguably the only semi-weak spot on the Cubs’ roster, adding a dominant force like Chapman may be the last piece Chicago needs to finally win another World Series. Chapman has a 2.01 ERA, 12.6 K/9 and 5.5 K/BB rate over 31 1/3 innings this season, not seeing the field until May due to a 30-game suspension under the league domestic violence policy.
Hector Rondon has hardly done anything to earn a demotion given his own spectacular numbers, though the Cubs closer would move to a setup role if and when Chapman joins the fold, with Pedro Strop, Travis Wood and the newly-acquired Mike Montgomery serving to protect leads into the eighth inning.