No matter what your feelings are about Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, you have to admit that he’s one of the best in the business when it comes to making trades. Whether it’s turning a few good months of Shane Greene into budding superstar Didi Gregorius or four lesser prospects into flamethrowing closer Aroldis Chapman, Cashman makes some really strong deals that set the Yankees up for success. His free agency moves may not always pan out (see: Ellsbury, Jacoby), but when it comes to making trades they are usually on point.
Today is no exception as Aroldis Chapman was traded to the Chicago Cubs and in return the Yankees got back a really nice package of four players. Headlining the quartet coming to New York is 19-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres. Torres is the consensus number one prospect in the Cubs’ system which is saying a lot seeing as their farm system is considered one of the best in baseball. Torres projects to be a five-tool player and gives the Yankees some crazy good depth at shortstop in addition to incumbent top prospect Jorge Mateo and Double-A SS Tyler Wade. You can never have too much talent, especially up the middle. If by some miracle they all pan out, some players can switch positions (to second or third) or they can be used as trade chips for starting pitching. Getting Torres for the rental closer in Chapman is a really good move.
Chapman for Torres straight up would probably have been good on its own for the Yankees, but they were able to get three more players in the deal. Outfield prospects Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford will now try to make names for themselves in the Yankee minor-league system. McKinney is a former first round pick in 2013 while Crawford is said to be a freakish athlete. Neither is a sure thing – hey even Torres isn’t – but it’s nice OF depth in the system and you never know if they figure something out over the next few years.
The fourth player in the deal is my personal favorite, and that’s pitcher Adam Warren. If you remember, the Yankees sent Warren to Chicago this past offseason in a big trade for second baseman Starlin Castro. While some have been down on Castro, I have nothing but good things to say about him. He’s been respectable in the field and is a huge upgrade offensively to Stephen Drew. He may only be hitting .262 with a .701 OPS but the good far outweighs the bad and he’s fit in nicely on the club. Now the Yankees get back Warren and essentially they picked up Castro for free. I’d take a 26-year-old with tremendous upside for nothing, wouldn’t you? Adam Warren is having a woeful season with the Cubs, but he was a very solid pitcher in New York and it’s worth getting him back as a “throw in” and seeing if he can find his form again. He’ll most likely try and fill the void left by Chapman in the bullpen, but he can also be a starter as well. I always liked Warren and never wanted to see him go. It had to be done to trade for Castro, but getting him back is awesome.
If you can’t tell, I’m very high on this trade. Brian Cashman turned four lesser prospects in the Yankee system into Aroldis Chapman and then flipped him for a top-of-the-line prospect, two other decent prospects and Starlin Castro (Adam Warren). That’s how you do business. Instead of letting Chapman walk as a free agent, Cashman pulled the trigger and got back way more than they would’ve if they had to settle for the compensatory pick for Chapman walking. It’s just good business. And hey, who says they don’t sign him in the offseason when he hits free agency? Wouldn’t that be something.
Also don’t mistake it, there’s probably no way Cashman moves Chapman if the Yankees were a legitimate contender this season. In no way does trading Chapman wave the white flag on the season, but it definitely is the first domino to fall if the Yankees go into full sell mode. If they fall even further back this next week, look for guys like Carlos Beltran and maybe even Andrew Miller (I hope not) to be on the move. If they have a good week and stay within striking distance of the Wild Card, Cashman may just stand pat or even be a buyer. However, just trading Chapman isn’t sell mode. The bullpen is still ferocious with Miller and Dellin Betances. It was just too good of a deal to pass up, especially with the team not being that great.
It makes more sense to trade Chapman and still try to make the playoffs but guarantee yourself a nice package in return, than to keep him and ultimately miss the postseason leaving yourself with nothing. Brian Cashman made a great trade, and there very well could be more on the horizon.