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Chicago Cubs: Was the Gleyber Torres/Aroldis Chapman trade worth it?

Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Scottsdale Scorpions infielder Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees against the Glendale Desert Dogs during an Arizona Fall League game at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 8, 2016; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Scottsdale Scorpions infielder Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees against the Glendale Desert Dogs during an Arizona Fall League game at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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This will be a question that will stick with Chicago Cubs fans for a while. Was giving up their top prospect worth it to win a World Series? The answer right now is yes. But what about in a few years?

Putting aside the legal issues that Aroldis Chapman has prior, Chicago Cubs’ fans were excited to get a player like him to close out games. It wasn’t that Hector Rondon wasn’t doing a solid job, it’s just…well, it’s Chapman. With the Cubs win of the 2016 World Series, very few fans will question if the deal was worth it. But there’s no denying the Cubs gave up a good one in Gleyber Torres. So will the Cubs regret this deal in the long run?

Let me start with this. The Cubs hadn’t won a championship in 108 years. The run of drafted players and ones we acquired that have come up and contributed has been amazing. But is that all we wanted? A strong team that won the Wild Card and maybe an occasional division crown–but didn’t win the World Series? I think we are all very aware of what type of player Torres is going to be. And if you’ve continued to keep tabs on him, you know he’s getting better. But regret? This is silly to even ask, right?

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The Cubs gave up four players for Chapman. Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford. Out of those, Torres was clearly the cornerstone of the deal. So why did the Cubs give up him AND three other players? Because that’s what you do when you’re a team fighting for a title. The Cubs fleeced more than a few teams over the past few years. One of those being the reason they were willing to do this trade. Addison Russell. Plus, the Cubs used one of the other assets from that trade in McKinney to make this happen.

Could the Cubs have won the World Series without Chapman? Maybe. But that’s an impossible thing to look at and say they would or wouldn’t have without him. He was a critical piece for the Cubs during the season. Joe Maddon rode him hard in the playoffs, and it showed towards the end. But as Maddon seemed to lose faith in the bullpen during the season, Chapman was there. He closed out games, wowed the crowd and got the job done.

This is the thing, trades like this are how baseball works. Back in 2008, the Cubs were a contender–an old team–but a contender nonetheless. So they made a trade with the Athletics sending Josh Donaldson to the A’s for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. Donaldson was an MVP in 2015 and a finalist in each of the last four years. It was the cost of competing–and everyone is forced to make that decision at some point–even the Cubs.

A few years from now if Torres has turned into the player we expect, it will “look” like the Cubs lost in this trade. They’ll have nothing to show for it as Chapman is already back with the Yankees. But they didn’t really lose on the deal. Talk to any Cubs’ fan and ask them what they think. Put in the World Series DVD and watch adults turn to weeping children all over again as they watch that series.

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From a personnel standpoint, the next few years will certainly favor the Yankees in this deal. But that 108-year clock was reset. So for the time being, will call it a win for the Cubs in more ways than one. And who knows? Maybe the Cubs will be looking for a middle-infielder in a few years as they compete for another title. The process could simply repeat itself again–as it will many times in the future.

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