Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs have been one of the most aggressive teams in trade talks over the last couple of weeks, and they are looking to bolster their World Series chances. At 59-38 on the season, the Cubs are one of the best teams in baseball. They have an impressive lineup, but their pitching staff has needed a bit of help.
Mike Montgomery was acquired from the Seattle Mariners to help the bullpen, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports originally reported. That move was a big step in the right direction, but the Cubs made an even bigger move to bolster their chances.
According to a report from Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, the Cubs have acquired star reliever Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees in exchange for four players. Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, Billy McKinney, and another player will be heading back to New York.
Chapman is a huge addition for the Cubs and will completely transform the bullpen. He will likely take over the closer role from Hector Rondon, who will move to the setup role in the eighth inning. That move alone will help the Cubs close out most games that they lead heading into the eighth.
Pedro Strop is also a very solid relief pitcher who will likely pitch the seventh inning. If the Cubs can get to the seventh inning with the lead, things will be incredibly difficult for opposing lineups.
Throughout the course of the 2016 MLB season with the Yankees, Chapman has recorded a 2.01 ERA to go along with 20 saves and a 5.50 K/BB ratio. Those numbers show exactly why Epstein wanted Chapman. Being able to acquire Chapman without giving up Kyle Schwarber was a major win as well.
Many fans are showing concern about the fact that Chapman has two months remaining on his contract. At this point in time, the Cubs don’t have a contract extension in place with him. That could be an issue, but two months of Chapman could help them break a 108-year stretch of not winning a World Series.
Epstein likely will try to re-sign Chapman when the offseason comes up. Chapman will likely have an interest in staying with the Cubs, as the young talent will keep them as a powerhouse for years to come.
That being said, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he makes for the Cubs this season.
Trading that kind of young talent certainly puts pressure on Chapman to perform at a high level. Even though the Cubs likely never would have seen those young players make a major impact at the MLB level due to the talent they currently have at all positions, it is hard to give up that many prospects. New York certainly got a good deal as well.
Expect to see the Cubs take a major step forward in late-game situations with Chapman on their side. He is one of the most dominant closers that baseball has seen in a long time, and Chicago will love having him closing out games for them.
Don’t be surprised if the Cubs continue searching the trade market for more starting pitching. Epstein may not be done even with two deals being done for bullpen arms. Now that the Cubs are going all-in on the 2016 season, there is more room for trades to be made.
Chicago has moved one step closer to ending their World Series curse and winning a championship.
Do you think the Chicago Cubs made the right move by acquiring Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees? Does his presence make them the World Series favorites? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Photo by Kathy Willens/AP Images]