aroldis chapman yankees[SEE UPDATES BELOW: Looks like the deal is done. Original text of post follows.]

Yesterday, word broke – and broke and broke – that the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees had agreed on the general framework of a deal (or were very close to a deal, or were finalizing a deal – however you may prefer it phrased) that would send closer Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for a package of prospects that is headlined by shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres.

Chapman, 28, is making $11.3 million this year, his final contracted year before free agency. He sports a 2.01 ERA, a 1.93 FIP, a 2.38 xFIP, and has already been worth 1.4 WAR (as a reliever) through just 31.1 innings.

Depending on your preferred ranking service, Torres is right around the top prospect in the Cubs’ system, and a top 30-ish prospect in all of baseball. It would be a steep price to pay for a couple months of a bullpen arm, but Chapman’s almost singular ability to reliably and consistently shut down any offense for a (high-leverage) inning every other game strikes me as valuable beyond our normal conception of WAR/innings/results/etc.

If and when the deal goes down, I’ll have to dig into that more.

I’ll also have to dig into the off-field concerns that permeated much of the discussion yesterday. As I said last night, it is fair that some fans have questions about the Cubs adding a player who was implicated in a serious domestic violence and gun incident in the offseason, but those concerns can be addressed by an open and thoughtful discussion by the organization when the time comes. There’s a whole lot that I don’t know, and I don’t think it’s fair for me to have a conclusive opinion one way or the other until there has been an opportunity to be apprised of all the information.



I know this is not a topic everyone wants to see me getting into, but the reality is that Chapman was suspended 30 baseball games this year under baseball’s domestic violence policy. This is a baseball issue, and it is part of the considerations associated with adding him to this Cubs team. Like you, I very much want to enjoy watching a player of Chapman’s historically impressive talent pitching for the Cubs in meaningful games. But I also want more information about what happened last October and about what has happened since, and I’m interested in hearing the Cubs’ perspective on these issues if the deal comes to pass.

Given that many Cubs fans have only a passing knowledge of Chapman and the domestic violence/gun incident for which he was suspended, I think it’s fair for all of us to want more information before finalizing our feelings on this. And I’m not talking to either side of the aisle here, I’m talking to both. If your predisposition is to not want Chapman on the team, I encourage you to investigate what really did or did not happen in October to the best of your ability. If your predisposition is to not care at all about what happened in October, I’d encourage you to do the same.

To that end, perhaps the most useful breakdown I’ve found so far is this Deadspin article going through the Broward State Attorney’s Office’s statement on the official decision not to prosecute Chapman for the incident.

Meanwhile, among the latest trade updates and analysis …

It’s no longer clear that extension talks with Chapman could be impacting the deal’s timing. Jon Heyman reports that there have been no extension talks, and Rian Watt, who’d originally tweeted about the trade and added that extension talks were the hangup, has since indicated he no longer believes that to be the case.

Rumor had the extension on the table at four years and $60 million, which is a lot of money for a reliever, but arguably a good deal for the kind of super-elite reliever Chapman projects to continue to be.



Jayson Stark reported that his understand is that the hang-up is much more basic: Hal Steinbrenner hasn’t yet given GM Brian Cashman the green light to sell off a piece that could help the Yankees win this year. If that’s the case, you could understand why the deal hasn’t been finalized and why the names are still being discussed (for example – and this is just hypothetical – perhaps Cashman is trying to get a big league arm included so that he can still say, “See, we’re not giving up on this year yet!”).

The Yankees, who’ve won six of their last eight, stand 7.5 games out in the AL East (in fourth place), but just 4.5 games out of the Wild Card, and needing to pass only three teams to get into that second slot. As of just a couple weeks ago, there were far more teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race, so being a little uneasy about selling just yet is not entirely irrational.

Bob Nightengale reported overnight that the deal was “on the verge” of completion, and would include Torres and one more prospect going to the Yankees for Chapman. From a valuation perspective, it seems like that second prospect would not be a significant one, given Torres’s value, but we’ll see.

It’s possible there is still some negotiating going on regarding that second prospect – or other pieces – though many reports have indicated the names are all agreed upon (which would support Stark’s report that it’s Yankee ownership holding things up). There are also medical reports to review, and the extension talk does remain plausible.

That is to say: the fact that the deal has not yet been finalized despite so very publicly being reported as near done does not necessarily mean it is at a significant risk of falling apart. Sometimes finalizing things just takes a little time, especially in a major deal like this.

Keep your eyes peeled today, because it’s likely to be a busy one.



UPDATE: And just like that, as soon as I clicked publish, there’s a significant – and significantly intriguing – update from Ken Rosenthal:

Once again, that would square with my thinking on how and why Yankee ownership would be holding things up, but why GM Brian Cashman would still be proceeding with talks. Maybe he’s trying to create a deal that builds for the future (because that’s smart), but also creates the appearance of not “selling off” right now (because that placates ownership and fans).

Why the conflicting rumors on the size and scope of the deal? My guess is that it’s because several version of the deal are being talked about by the teams. Pretty simple really.

UPDATE 2: It sounds like things are getting very close to getting done, and it’s just a matter of crossing t’s and such:

If the Cubs are giving up Torres and Warren (for all his struggles out of the pen this year, he still does have value), the other two pieces could not possibly be significant prospects, right? And, even still, are the Cubs really only getting Chapman, and giving up four pieces, including Torres and Warren? I wonder if there will be something else, maybe minor, coming back the Cubs’ way.

UPDATE 3: As I do mental gymnastics trying to figure out if/how this comes together without the Cubs getting more and without the Cubs getting an extension on Chapman, Sahadev Sharma is saying flatly that it’s Chapman, only Chapman, and no extension:

UPDATE 4: Taking everything together:

And, it sounds like that’s the case:

UPDATE 5: Boy, McKinney’s stock sure has plummeted after his knee injury late last year (broken knee cap), and rough start to the season this year:

UPDATE 6: Sounds like it’s going to happen, and now we just have to learn the final name:

UPDATED TRADE POST HERE.


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