Chicago Cubs: Chapman’s character issues didn’t distract the Cubs hopes
There are very few players that can throw a baseball over 100 MPH. The Chicago Cubs used the trade deadline to acquire the final piece needed to win the World Series. Considered a rental player by most, this lefty proved his weight in gold and helped end a century of waiting.
When the Chicago Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman on July 25th, it was the finishing touch for the playoff roster. Chapman brought a heavy fastball and slider combo that provided a much-needed look in the bullpen.
The 28-year-old Cuban is a familiar face for Cub fans. Originally signed as a free agent by the Reds in 2010, Chapman quickly made his way to the majors. In his six-plus years in the Queen City, Chapman was used as both a starter and reliever. It was the 2015 trade to the New York Yankees that made Chapman into one of the most dominant forces in the league.
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2016 has been a rollercoaster ride for Aroldis Chapman. The decision to bring Chapman to Chicago was greatly debated by fans and writers. It was as much of a baseball decision as it was a moral quandary
Prior to the beginning of the season, Chapman became the first player suspended under the new domestic abuse policy. Chapman, who didn’t physically hurt his girlfriend, used aggressive and menacing behavior to terrorize her.
Chapman accepted the suspension and served it starting on opening day. Upon his return, public opinion of the lengthy reliever soured. The Cubs front office expressed concern over his sincerity. Before the trade could be concluded, Chapman had to win over the Cubs by proving he had changed his ways.
After careful deliberation, the Cubs determined that they were comfortable bring Chapman in to help the team.
Trusted bullpen arm
Aroldis Chapman wasted no time planting his flag in the Cubs bullpen. Bringing in a pitcher of Chapman’s caliber showed just how serious the Cubs were about winning. Down the stretch, manager Joe Maddon began using Chapman is situations you normally would find closers in.
In 28 games with the Cubs, Chapman finished 23 of them — 16 of which were the result of a save. With an ERA of 1.01, The Cubs had found their postseason closer.
During the course of the playoffs, Maddon lost faith in some of the bullpen options. In the high-leverage situations, Chapman found himself earning an extended save. Chapman himself had expressed his desire to not come into a game with men on base. That request was only confirmed when he struggled to leave inherited runners stranded.
Although Chapman provided the near-blown save in game 7 of the World Series, his contributions were almost forgotten. Maddon went to the veteran reliever in consecutive games needing at least six outs in each outing. Chapman’s arm had been overused during that stretch which led to his struggles in Game 7.
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Without the gutsy effort put forth in Game 5 and Game 6, the Cubs may never have reached Game 7. Aroldis Chapman was a force that the Cleveland Indians couldn’t completely overcome.
Chapman celebrated his first World Series title by cashing in on one of the richest contracts ever signed by a reliever. Agreeing to terms to return to the Yankees, Chapman will earn $86M over the next five years.
There’s no denying that the decision to trade one of our best prospects for a rental player was steep. In the end, Cub fans, the organization and Chapman himself all got what they wanted. He cherished his time here and made the most of it.