Flamethrower Aroldis Chapman is back in the National League Central, but this time he’s heading to the Friendly Confines. The Chicago Cubs pulled the trigger on a multi-player blockbuster on Monday to acquire the 105-MPH throwing closer from the New York Yankees. In return, the Yankees received SS Gleyber Torres (Chicago’s no.1 prospect), OFs Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford and reliever Adam Warren (returning to the Bronx after going to Chicago in the Starlin Castro trade).
The motives of both teams are clear. Theo Epstein and the Cubs want to win this year after making it to last year’s NLCS. Brian Cashman, on the other hand, is trying to change from the Yankees’ classic “spend spend spend” mantra and develop a future for a team that needs youth in a bad way.
While the move certainly gives the Yankees two talented young prospects in Torres and McKinney, the addition of Chapman has the 2016 Cubs suddenly looking terrifying. All the Cubs have lacked this season is a dominant late-inning specialist who can come in and slam the door when his team has a lead. Chapman will have no trouble returning to the NL after recording 20 saves in 21 opportunities with the Yankees this season. The move gives Joe Maddon even more depth in the bullpen. Current closer Hector Rondon can now be moved to a set-up role and other relievers like Travis Wood and Pedro Strop can be used more leniently.
The Cubs have had one of the most lethal offenses in all of the MLB this season, with Kris Bryant leading the way with 25 HRs and Anthony Rizzo right behind him with 24. Addison Russell and Ben Zobrist round out a lineup that has supported its talented rotation mightily. Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester cooled slightly heading into the All-Star break, but there is still no reason to believe that the duo and John Lackey will not carry the Cubs to the NL Central title and October. They came close last time, but this could very well be the Cub’s year, especially with a lights out closer like Chapman on board.