The Chicago Cubs are rumored to be the top contender to acquire closer Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees. If acquired, what role could fans expect him to play?
It’s no secret that one of the biggest things that the Chicago Cubs have lacked in 2016 is a dominant, late-inning, left-handed reliever. Although the team just acquired left-hander Mike Montgomery from the Seattle Mariners, one has to believe the Cubs are not done dealing just yet.
At just 19 years old, Torres has been with the Cubs ever since signing as an international free agent in 2013. According to MLB.com, Torres is the Cubs’ top prospect right now, an impressive feat considering the strength of the team’s farm system. He has put up very respectable numbers in 94 games this season, hitting .275 with 47 RBI.
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If the deal does in fact occur, the Cubs would be giving up their top prospect, one who has years to go before maximizing his full potential. Although such a deal may come much to the dismay of Cub fans, it actually makes a ton of sense for the team.
For starters, trading Torres makes sense simply because the Cubs realistically have no room for him on the roster. At ages 23 and 22, shortstops Javier Báez and Addison Russell seem to have the position locked down for the next decade. Yes, something could happen where one of the two players (or even both) leave the team, but that seems rather far-fetched.
Not only is shortstop occupied for the Cubs, but the rest of the infield is as well. With Russell at shortstop, Báez seems to be the second basemen of the future, presumably taking over the position for good when current starter Ben Zobrist retires.
Besides the middle infield positions, there truly is no chance that Torres takes the starting third base job away from Kris Bryant. He could potentially play outfield, but the Cubs have numerous incumbents who aren’t going anywhere in the near future (i.e. Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Jason Heyward) and numerous prospects on the cusp (i.e. Billy McKinney, Ian Happ, Eloy Jimenez).
If a player has no spot on a team for the next couple of years at the least, why not entertain trade offers for him that make your team better? The Cubs spent close to five years rebuilding their farm system to the point of having an embarrassment of riches in terms of stud prospects. Was it not obvious from the start that they all wouldn’t stick around or even debut for the team?
By acquiring Chapman, the Cubs would have arguably the best late-inning reliever/closer in the entire MLB as of today. As of July 19th, 2015, Chapman’s fastball velocity averaged 98.8 MPH, the fastest in the MLB, according to The Washington Post. Between his fastball that consistently tops out over 100 MPH and his breaking pitches that are 10 MPH slower, hitters are constantly caught off-balance by the hard-throwing Cuban.
Last season, Chapman became the fastest pitcher ever to record 500 strikeouts, doing so in just 292 innings. To put things into perspective, the previous record was set by Craig Kimbrel in, when he did it in 305 innings. Chapman can throw extremely hard, but he can do so at a successful rate, essentially.
If the Cubs do acquire Chapman, they would have the hardest throwing pitcher in the MLB either as their setup man or closer for a potential playoff run. Obviously, Chicago gets colder and colder come fall and hitting is not nearly as easy in cold weather as it is in warm weather. If he comes to the Cubs, Chapman would presumably have a field day at Wrigley Field in the playoffs with his fastball.
While it is true another team could swoop in to grab Chapman, it seems very likely that he has one foot in the door into Chicago already. If a trade for him goes down, the Cubs without a doubt will be making a trade that only makes sense for their team.