SUNDAY, 6:32pm: Shortstop Gleyber Torres, one of the Cubs’ top prospects, has been scratched from the lineup for Chicago’s High-A affiliate tonight, according to Sports Illustrated’s Kenny Ducey (Twitter link). Torres was known to be of interest to the Yankees, and Heyman tweets that the Cubs have an offer of Torres and more on the table for Chapman. Torres was a consensus top-50 prospect (#28 from MLB.com, #41 from Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus) in preseason minor league rankings, and the 19-year-old is hitting .275/.359/.433 in 409 plate appearances this season.
3:52pm: Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner still hasn’t given general manager Brian Cashman the green light to sell off top veterans, including Chapman, according to Heyman. As of now, the Indians, Cubs, Nationals, Rangers and a mystery team are pushing for Chapman. (Twitter link).
12:57pm: The Indians have the best names on the table for Chapman right now and a trade could be close, a source told Bruce Levine of 670TheScore (Twitter link). The Nationals are also aggressively going after Chapman, notes Levine, and Keith Law of ESPN hears (on Twitter) that Erick Fedde, Koda Glover and another prospect will head to the Yankees if the two sides strike a deal. Fedde, a right-hander, is Baseball America’s 61st-ranked prospect.
11:03am: The Yankees are dissatisfied with the Nationals’ offers, who are behind at least three other teams (including a mystery club) in the Chapman derby, writes Heyman. Further, the remaining $5MM on Chapman’s contract could make it difficult for a team like the Indians to acquire him, as the Yankees are currently unwilling to eat any of that money.
Meanwhile, the Giants sense that the momentum is elsewhere in regards to Chapman, tweets Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. The Yankees are giving the Giants “radio silence” and don’t like San Francisco’s farm system as much as other suitors’, adds Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
8:46am: Chapman is the Nationals’ No. 1 target, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, who adds that the Yankees are interested in Nats right-handed starter Joe Ross. The Giants are also in the Chapman sweepstakes, but neither they nor the Indians are progressing toward a deal with the Yankees. The Cubs are higher on Miller than Chapman, though it doesn’t appear the former is going anywhere.
Although Ross has been out for several weeks with inflammation in his throwing shoulder, it’s fair to say he’d be a significant pickup for the Yankees in a Chapman trade. The 23-year-old has thrown 172 innings and put up a 3.56 ERA, 7.74 K/9, 2.46 BB/9 and 46.6 percent ground-ball rate since debuting in the majors last season. Unsurprisingly, there’s “no chance” of Washington moving Ross for a rental, a source told Heyman (Twitter link).
8:38am: The Yankees have asked the Nationals, Cubs, Indians and a mystery team to submit their best and final offers for Chapman, an industry source told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
SATURDAY, 10:18pm: A Chapman trade isn’t necessarily imminent, but the Yankees are ready to conclude the process, tweets Rosenthal.
9:32pm: The Yankees are telling teams that they’re nearing a trade involving closer Aroldis Chapman, but they plan on keeping fellow left-handed relief ace Andrew Miller, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). There’s no word yet on where the Yankees will send Chapman in advance of the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline.
As of earlier Saturday, the Nationals were pursuing Chapman – to whom they’ve been connected for months – but they haven’t shown an eagerness to part with top prospects for the 28-year-old free agent-to-be. Fellow contenders like the Cubs, Indians and Giants, among others, have also been linked to Chapman, whom the Yankees acquired from the Reds for an underwhelming prospect package during the offseason amid his domestic violence issues.
The flame-throwing Chapman served a month-plus suspension to begin the season because of his off-field misdeeds, but he has been his usual dominant self on the mound since. Over 31 1/3 innings this year, Chapman has pitched to a 2.01 ERA while notching 12.64 strikeouts and walking 2.3 batters per nine innings, and converting 20 of 21 save chances. Chapman’s strikeout rate represents a career low, though his walks are at a personal best and he hasn’t shown any signs of losing velocity, having exceeded 105 mph on Monday. The exact speed (105.1) is the fastest pitch ever on radar, tying Chapman’s record from 2010.
For the Yankees, dealing Chapman would be an admission that they’re not all in on contending this year. The Bombers dropped a 12-inning decision to the Giants on Saturday and fell to 49-48, which puts them 7.5 games behind the AL East-leading Orioles and 4.5 out of a Wild Card spot. On the other hand, judging by their decision to keep the 31-year-old Miller – who has outperformed Chapman this season – they haven’t abandoned all near-term hope. Miller is locked up through 2018 at $9MM per annum and would surely merit a significant return (even greater than what Chapman will bring back), but the Yanks look prepared to hold him and hope he’s part of playoff teams in the Bronx over the next couple years.
Even if the Yankees part with Chapman, he, like Miller, could conceivably be part of their plans beyond this season. Chapman would have to hit free agency and New York would have to be motivated to re-sign him, of course. He seems likely to exceed his 2016 salary ($11.325MM) on a long-term deal in the offseason, and it stands to reason that the Yankees could be the club to give him that contract on the open market. For now, it appears Chapman will head to a team in better position to compete for a World Series this season.