With one week to go before the MLB trade deadline, the Yankees made a move, sending closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs for three prospects and former Yankees pitcher Adam Warren. (Warren was traded to Chicago for Starlin Castro this past offseason).
Chapman is one of the best closers in baseball and his 100-MPH-plus fastball makes the already deep Cubs that much better. He is a free agent at season’s end, but the Cubs are trying to win now and this trade certainly makes sense in the short term. (Chapman has said he wants to test free agency this winter and it is possible he could reunite with the Yankees, but he will get a ton of money from someone).
Let’s take a look at what the Yankees receive for the long term.
Shortstop Gleyber Torres
MLB.com rated Torres the No. 28 prospect in baseball prior to the 2016 season. He’s 19 and has moved from rookie ball to High-A in three years in the Cubs’ system. In 94 games with Myrtle Beach this year, he hit .275 with 23 doubles, nine home runs, 49 RBI and 19 steals. He has a strong defensive resume and many scouts say his bat will play at an All-Star level in the major leagues. He is quite far from the majors – ETA late 2018 at the earliest – and joins a deep group of shortstops in the Yankees organization. Torres could move to second or third or could be part of another trade down the line. Whatever happens, the Yankees added a major prospect to the farm system in Torres.
McKinney was a first round pick in the 2013 draft by the Oakland A’s and came to Chicago in the 2014 Jeff Samardzija trade. MLB.com had him ranked as the No. 88 overall prospect in baseball coming into this season. He has been at Double-A Tennessee each of the last two seasons and has hit .252 with 12 doubles, one homer and 31 RBI in 88 games this year. McKinney doesn’t have a lot of power and won’t steal many bases but he’s a lefty-hitting outfielder who plays good defense and has a good eye at the plate. He’s drawn 47 walks against 68 strikeouts this year, making his .355 on-base percentage more than 100 points higher than his batting average. Think a Brett Gardner-like ceiling here. That’s still a good player to add to the farm system.
Crawford was an 11th round pick out of high school in 2012 and was playing at High-A Myrtle Beach this year. He’s hitting .255 with 18 doubles, eight triples and three homers in 83 games. Crawford isn’t as highly rated a prospect as the other players in the trade but the Yankees are hoping he can continue to hit as he climbs the ladder. If so, he could be useful as a fourth outfielder.
Pitcher Adam Warren
Warren struggled with the Cubs after leaving the Bronx in the Starlin Castro trade. He was 3-2 with a 5.91 ERA in 29 appearances and was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. His walks were up and his strikeouts were down. Some baseball beat writers have wondered if Joe Maddon‘s bullpen usage messed with Warren’s stuff. Perhaps a return to familiarity in New York will help him get back on track. Warren turns 29 in August and won’t hit free agency until 2019. He can pitch out of the bullpen and also slot into the rotation and adds a major-league ready component to this trade for the rest of the 2016 season. If Warren can pitch well in the seventh inning, Dellin Betances takes the eighth and Andrew Miller takes the ninth, the loss of Chapman won’t sting as much.
Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman said this afternoon that this trade doesn’t necessarily make the Yankees buyers or sellers. Chapman was a free-agent-to-be and this trade made the Yankees’ farm system considerably stronger. We will see over the next week if the Yankees continue to wheel and deal and look to the future.