Cubs get Chapman from Yanks in blockbuster

Game's hardest thrower stands to be final piece in Chicago's pursuit of title

Cubs get Chapman from Yanks in blockbuster

CHICAGO -- The Cubs hope to have secured a trip to the World Series by adding hard-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman to the mix.

The Cubs acquired Chapman from the Yankees on Monday in exchange for four players: pitcher Adam Warren and prospects Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford. Torres, a 19-year-old shortstop, was the top-ranked prospect in the Cubs' system and ranks 24th in baseball according to MLB Pipeline.

Chapman, 28, has the highest strikeout rate per nine innings in baseball, and his fastball was recently clocked at 105 mph. The left-hander has a 2.01 ERA in with 20 saves in 21 opportunities for the Yankees.

Chapman began this season serving a 30-game suspension covered by Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy after a dispute with his girlfriend in South Florida. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts issued a statement saying he, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer all talked to Chapman before the deal was finalized.

Warren rejoins the Yankees, who dealt him to the Cubs for Starlin Castro last December. The right-hander had a 6.60 ERA in 28 relief appearances, and was optioned on Sunday to Triple-A Iowa to start.

Why Chapman? Call it the Familia factor. In the National League Championship Series last October, Mets closer Jeurys Familia overpowered the Cubs, and he did so again during the regular season this year. The Cubs apparently aren't confident that current closer Hector Rondon can reach that level. Adding Chapman would create a solid back end of the bullpen, similar to what the defending World Series champion Royals have perfected with Wade Davis as the anchor.

Chapman will be a free agent after this year, and according to reports, he refused to talk about a contract extension with the Yankees.

Epstein on acquiring Chapman

The Cubs know Chapman well. While with the Reds, he was 20-for-20 in save situations against Chicago. He also incited first baseman Anthony Rizzo to drop his glove and challenge the closer after he brushed back Nate Schierholtz in June 2014. Rizzo said he made peace the next month when he and Chapman were together on the NL All-Star team.

"I shared with him the high expectations we set for our players and staff both on and off the field," Ricketts said in a statement. "Aroldis indicated he is comfortable with meeting those expectations.

"My family, this team and Major League Baseball take the issue of domestic violence very seriously and support efforts to reduce domestic violence through education, awareness and intervention."

Chapman also issued a statement through the Cubs.

"I want to thank the New York Yankees for trusting and supporting me, and I wish nothing but the best for the Yankees organization and my former teammates," Chapman said. "I am excited about today's trade and look forward to joining the Chicago Cubs and meeting my new teammates. It is a privilege to wear the Cubs uniform and to play for the fans of Chicago.

"As you know, earlier this year I accepted and served a 30-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my actions of Oct. 30, 2015. I regret that I did not exercise better judgment and for that I am truly sorry. Looking back, I feel I have learned from this matter and have grown as a person. My girlfriend and I have worked hard to strengthen our relationship, to raise our daughter together, and would appreciate the opportunity to move forward without revisiting an event we consider part of our past. Out of respect for my family, I will not comment any further on this matter.

"I cannot wait to take the mound at Wrigley Field and look forward to helping my teammates deliver a championship to Chicago."

On Sunday, the Cubs activated another former closer, 41-year-old Joe Nathan, from the disabled list. Nathan is coming back from a second Tommy John surgery and is projected to pitch in the middle innings.

Torres, 19, was ranked No. 1 among the Cubs' Top 30 Prospects, according to MLB.com, and batted .275 in 94 games with Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. McKinney, 21, was the Athletics' first-round pick in the 2013 Draft, and he was dealt to the Cubs as part of the July 2014 deal that sent Jeff Samardzija to Oakland. Ranked fifth among the Cubs' top prospects, he was batting .252 at Double-A Tennessee. Crawford, 22, an 11th-round pick in 2012, was batting .255 in 83 games at Myrtle Beach.

Zinkie on Chapman to Cubs

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
With a 2.16 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and a 15.2 K/9 rate in his big league career, Chapman is arguably baseball's most valuable fantasy closer. Now part of a Cubs squad with the best record in the sport, the left-hander should have many opportunities to generate saves and strikeouts down the stretch. The biggest fantasy drop here -- of course -- comes for Rondon, who will shift from Chicago's ninth-inning man to a setup role despite having thrived the past two years (1.77 ERA, 0.91 WHIP). He can be dropped in mixed leagues that don't value holds. Andrew Miller of the Yankees, meanwhile, represents the trade's biggest fantasy winner, as he should return to the closer role he held during his 36-save campaign of 2015. A dominant southpaw in his own right (1.45 ERA, 15.4 K/9 in '16), Miller should rank among baseball's top stoppers as long as he remains with the Yankees through the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.