Last season, the Chicago Cubs made a trade that showed they were going for it all. The Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman deal turned out to be an important one to the Cubs, but was trading for Wade Davis even better?
The Chicago Cubs gave up a talented prospect in Gleyber Torres to get Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees. It’s the type of deal that Theo Epstein had been pulling on other teams over the past five years. But this time, the Cubs were the buyer and were going to have to pony up.
No matter how you look at it, Chapman’s impact on this team was significant. Some just look at the Rajai Davis home run and say “he almost cost us the World Series.” But in reality, that’s not true at all. The one thing about Chapman and his 100+ MPH stuff? If someone was able to square it up–like Davis–the ball was going to get hit hard. And in high-leverage situations, there wasn’t much room for error.
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Most knew that Chapman was merely a rental player. The Cubs never had any serious interest in signing him long-term. But that was still going to leave a noticeable gap at the end of games. It was pretty clear the Cubs were a little shaky on putting Hector Rondon back in the closer spot. And it didn’t seem anyone else was ready to their liking. So the Cubs made another trade, this time sending the talented but underachieving Jorge Soler to the Royals for Wade Davis.
Over the last three season, Davis has been about as good as they get. He’s 19-4 out of the Royals’ bullpen with a 1.18 ERA, striking out 234 batters in 182 2/3 innings. He’s also allowed just three home runs in that time. Is it possible the Cubs improved at the closer spot?
Last season, Davis spent some time on the DL for the Royals. Some questioned if it was a simple an injury as they were saying. I knew a little about Davis, and the injury from last season was a concern, but trading Soler was a fair price in my opinion. Soler has had his injury issues as well.
So how has it worked out? In 13 games, Davis has allowed just four hits. He’s struck out 15 in 12 1/3 innings while going 2-0 with seven saves. Oh, and he’s not allowed a run yet. So is it possible that the Cubs made an upgrade?
So far, there’s no doubt. But it’s how Maddon handles him the rest of the year that will be the biggest difference. We can speculate on Maddon’s usage of Chapman and if it was different because he was a “rental.” But Maddon knows Davis from his Tampa Bay days. There’s a different level of respect there, whether you believe that or not. Maddon won’t push Davis too hard, especially with the majority of the season yet to go.
The Cubs had Chapman last year and won the World Series. The thought that we may have gotten better? Now we just need the starters to stop allowing first-inning runs, and we’ll be in good shape.