Joel Sherman of the New York Post walks readers through the winding process the Cubs took to reach an agreement on an Aroldis Chapman trade with the Yankees. Per Sherman, the Cubs never wanted to pursue a rental pitcher but weren’t able to convince the Yankees to back down from their demand of Kyle Schwarber. Chicago then turned to the Royals, only to find the asking price on Wade Davis to be even higher than the asking price on Miller. The Cubs weren’t willing to deal from their big league roster to upgrade the ’pen but were willing to deal from their infield depth, parting with Class-A shortstop Gleyber Torres largely because of the presence of both Addison Russell and Javier Baez on the Major League roster. (Notably, Chicago also dealt from its first base depth in moving Dan Vogelbach for another left-handed reliever: Seattle’s Mike Montgomery.) Sherman adds that owner Hal Steinbrenner still wants to win in 2016 despite approving the Chapman swap, which calls into question whether the club would entertain even an overwhelming offer for Miller.
The Nationals were in the mix for Aroldis Chapman right up until the end of the Yankees’ negotiations with the Cubs, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark, and general manager Mike Rizzo and his staff are still on the hunt for a relief ace that could anchor the back of the bullpen and provide an upgrade over Jonathan Papelbon. Citing rival clubs that have spoken with the Nationals, Stark reports that Andrew Miller, Wade Davis and David Robertson are all on the radar for the Nats.
The asking price on Miller and Davis is said to be otherworldly, of course, as evidenced by a recent report from Yahoo’s Jeff Passan which stated that the Royals kicked around Lucas Giolito’s name when internally discussing the notion of trading Davis. Beyond that, Stark reported yesterday that the package sent from the Cubs to the Yankees in exchange for Chapman — Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford — wouldn’t have pried Davis away from Kansas City. The price on Miller, as has been the case since discussions about potentially trading him surfaced back in May, is exceptionally high. The Yankees were said to be fixated on Kyle Schwarber in talks pertaining to Miller, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports again emphasizes that the Yankees would want MLB-ready talent from the Nationals in exchange for Miller, suggesting that names like Giolito and Joe Ross could surface in talks.
Dealing away closer Aroldis Chapman was “an easy call” and “the right call,” GM Brian Cashman told reporters including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. The club was able to “trade from an area of strength” and receive quality assets for a short-term piece, he emphasized, saying that “the total package was something that we targeted and strived to get.” The Yankees did explore extension possibilities with Chapman’s camp in early June, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Obviously that did not gain much traction, but the club could still look to bring back the high-powered reliever when he hits the open market this fall, as Cashman acknowledged in his comments. Interestingly, the veteran executive also stressed that parting with its closer didn’t mean that the club was fully abandoning hopes of contention this year, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. With the club still sitting in reasonable position, that could lead to an interesting couple of days in the run-up to August 1st.
- It remains unclear whether the Yankees will really entertain the idea of trading Andrew Miller now that Chapman is gone, but ESPN.com’s Buster Olney argues (Insider link) that the Indians should force the issue. Cleveland, he suggests, needs to take advantage of its opportunity. While it would be painful to give up its best pre-MLB talent, the club might hope to deal away Miller’s remaining two years of contract control over the winter, hopefully recouping a decent portion of the value it would take to get him right now.
- The Marlins have shown some interest in Yankees righties Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova, among many other names with whom they have been connected, also per Sherman. And that would seem to align with New York’s own approach, as the club is moving its focus to finding a taker for Nova, according to a report from Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. The Yanks are dangling him at a relatively high asking price, per the report — at least for the time being.
2:37pm: The Cubs and Yankees have each formally announced the trade. Warren will join the Yankees’ Major League roster, while McKinney will head to Double-A Trenton. Torres and Crawford are each bound for Class-A Tampa.
11:03am: After months of being linked to a hard-throwing left-hander for their bullpen, the Cubs have reportedly acquired the hardest-throwing pitcher in all of Major League Baseball, reaching an agreement with the Yankees that will send Aroldis Chapman from New York to Chicago in exchange for shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, right-hander Adam Warren and minor league outfielders Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.
The Cubs have been linked to Chapman and fellow lefty Andrew Miller for months, but the Yankees seemingly never wavered from their asking price of Kyle Schwarber in exchange for Miller, and the Cubs never budged on their refusal to discuss the injured slugger. Instead, the Cubs will pick up Chapman — long one of the best closers in all of baseball but also a free agent at season’s end, making the four-player package headlined by Torres a steep price to pay. However, the Cubs have more wins than any team in Major League Baseball and are making a clear effort to deepen their roster not just to get to the postseason but to thrive upon arriving there. The structure of the postseason schedule allows clubs to more heavily rely on their bullpen arms due to the frequency of off-days in the schedule, making Chapman that much more valuable in a five- or seven-game series.
Chapman’s time with the Yankees will ultimately prove to be brief in nature, as he spent just a few months in the organization and only a bit more than two months on the active roster due to a 30-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. Chapman was investigated by the league this offseason following allegations of assaulting his girlfriend at a party and later discharging a handgun in his garage, though he was never arrested nor were any charges filed. While the moral and ethical implications of acquiring a player associated with that investigation can be debated to no end, from a pure baseball perspective, the investigation drastically lowered the price for the Yankees to acquire Chapman this winter. They’ll now swap out Eric Jagielo, Rookie Davis, Caleb Cotham and Tony Renda for a significantly more talented package of talent, headlined by Torres and McKinney.
Warren will return to the Bronx with two and a half years of service time, and he’ll be a familiar face for the Yankees, who just this offseason traded him to the Cubs in order to acquire Starlin Castro. However, Chicago proved to be a struggle for Warren, who pitched to a 5.91 ERA in 35 innings with the Cubs. Considering the strong work that Warren did from 2013-15 with the Yankees — 3.23 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 45.3 percent ground-ball rate — the extent of his struggles was fairly surprising. The primary culprits for Warren were a dramatic spike in his walk rate (4.9 BB/9) and a massive increase in homers. A fluky 16.7 percent homer-to-flyball ratio undoubtedly impacted his 1.8 HR/9 rate, but Warren’s general problems with locating his pitches actually led to a greater percentage of pitches in the strike zone, particularly when behind in the count.
Torres, 19, is the most highly regarded prospect joining the Yankees’ ranks. One of the prizes of the Cubs’ pool-shattering international spending spree three summers ago, the shortstop entered the season as a consensus Top 50 prospect around the league and has only continued to boost his stock. Torres is hitting .275/.359/.433 with nine homers and 19 stolen bases in 409 plate appearances while playing against considerably older competition. ESPN’s Keith Law rated Torres 26th on his midseason list of the game’s top prospects, and Baseball America pegged him 27th. Law noted that Torres has put on weight and filled out a bit, making it less certain that he’ll stick at shortstop but adding to the power output he’s delivered in a pitcher-friendly home park as one of three teenagers receiving regular at-bats in the Carolina League this year. BA notes that he’s recovered from a dreadfully low start — indeed, he’s hitting .302/.379/.468 since May 1 — and has shown enough added pop to profile at second or third base even if he has to move off of shortstop.
The 21-year-old McKinney was a Top 100 prospect entering the season but has seen his stock dip a bit, part of which BA attributes to adding “some bad weight” and slowing down both in terms of foot speed and bat speed. In 349 plate appearances at the Double-A level this season, McKinney is hitting .252/.355/.322 with just one home run. However, he’s quite young for the level and is just a year removed from hitting .300/.371/.454 as a 20-year-old between Class-A Advanced and Double-A, so there’s certainly room for a rebound. And, as evidenced by McKinney’s 47 walks (13.5 percent) against 68 strikeouts (19.4 percent), he still possesses strong discipline at the plate that should play into his favor as he continues to develop. The Yankees will be the third organization for McKinney, who was selected 24th overall by the A’s in 2013 but traded to the Cubs alongside Addison Russell in the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel blockbuster back in 2014.
As for Crawford, the 22-year-old was an 11th-round pick out of high school by the Cubs back in 2012 and is in his first season at Class-A Advanced. He’s hitting .255/.327/.386 with three homers and 22 steals in 28 tries through his first 370 trips to the plate. Crawford didn’t land on any top 30 lists for the Cubs, but BA’s J.J. Cooper tweets that as a toolsy center fielder with plus speed and plus defense, Crawford is the “perfect” fourth player/lottery ticket to add some further upside to the deal for the Yankees.
The Yankees have been “pushing Ivan Nova in trade talks” over the past few weeks, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney, citing rival executives (Twitter link). The Nova report comes on the heels of indicators that the Yankees are also nearing a trade of Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs, so it seems that further rental pieces could continue to be shopped by GM Brian Cashman in the coming week.
The 29-year-old Nova had a brutal month of June but has otherwise been a solid piece for the Yankees’ pitching staff this season. His overall ERA sits at 4.65 in 93 innings of work, though he’s allowed just one run in three of his past four outings. Nova has also averaged 7.0 strikeouts against 2.1 walks per nine innings pitched and recorded a very strong 54.9 percent ground-ball rate, so there’s reason to believe that there could yet be improvement on the horizon in what is his first full season back from 2014 Tommy John surgery. (He did throw 94 innings last year but was sidelined until late June due to said surgery.) Nova’s velocity isn’t quite up to the 93 mph he averaged prior to Tommy John surgery, but he’s close to that mark, averaging 92.5 mph this year. Home runs have long been a problem for Nova, but he’s seen his homer-to-flyball ratio spike to nearly 21 percent this season, which is almost certain to regress moving forward. Escaping the homer-happy confines of Yankee Stadium certainly wouldn’t hurt, in that regard.
Nova is earning $4.1MM this season in his final year before reaching the free agent market. He’s still owed about $1.55MM of that sum through season’s end, making him a fairly affordable piece. While Nova certainly doesn’t have a track record of dominance, he’s displayed over the course of his career that he’s capable of delivering an ERA in the mid- to low-4.00s with a roughly average number of strikeouts, good control and plenty of ground-balls. For a club that’s hunting for innings at the back of its rotation as opposed to a front-line arm — the Marlins, Mets, Orioles and Tigers come to mind as a few speculative possibilities — he could be a reasonably priced piece, both financially and in terms of prospect cost.
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.
- One Indians prospect not mentioned by Pluto is shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang, who ESPN’s Buster Olney reports was discussed by the Yankees when the two sides discussed Aroldis Chapman. (The Tribe looked like the possible favorites for Chapman at one point today, though now it looks like the star closer will be going to the Cubs.) Chang, who hails from Taiwan and turns 21 in August, has put up solid hitting numbers at high-A ball this season and was ranked by Baseball America as Cleveland’s 16th-best prospect prior to 2016.
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.
- The remainder of the Royals’ current homestand (five games) will determine their course entering the deadline. At 48-47, the reigning World Series champions are eight games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland and five out of a Wild Card spot. Should they end up selling, free agents-to-be Edinson Volquez, Luke Hochevar and Kendrys Morales are all candidates to change uniforms. So is closer Wade Davis, whose contract expires after next season and whose demand around the league will only rise if the Yankees retain their late-inning relief aces. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported earlier Saturday that Washington is among the teams interested in Davis.
- Nationals right-handed pitching prospect Erick Fedde could headline a package for Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, and Rosenthal says landing the 23-year-old would be “a coup” for a team that covets young starters. Fedde, the 18th overall pick in the 2014 draft, is BA’s 61st-ranked prospect and has put up a 0.69 ERA in his last eight starts at the High-A level, per Rosenthal.