Written by Jason Marshall
If you’re thinking the headline is a bit hyperbolic, you may be right. Is Brian Cashman really a genius for re-signing Aroldis Chapman? Let’s examine.
Last summer, the New York Yankees found themselves in an unusual position, as sellers at the trade deadline. Indeed, for the first time in a generation, the 27-time champs were helping postseason contenders to shore up their weaknesses, rather than beefing up for a playoff run of their own.[embedit snippet=”1″] One of those pieces, Aroldis Chapman, is unofficially back in pinstripes, inking a 5 year, $86 million pact late in the day on Wednesday (deal pending completion of a physical.) A friend of mine broke the news to me, and I was ECSTATIC (disclaimer – yes, I’m admittedly biased…though it’s my job to cover the Yankees for this website, I’ve been in a love affair with them since I was a kid.)
When Cashman broke up “No Runs DMC” by trading Chapman to the Cubs in exchange for Gleyber Torrez, Billy McKinney, Rashad Crawford and Adam Warren, the white flag was unofficially hoisted (it would become OFFICIALLY hoisted up upon the departure of Andrew Miller.) But for a moment, we need to rewind a bit, to the 2015-16 offseason.
Adam Warren was shipped to Chicago, in the trade that sent Starlin Castro to New York. Then, Cashman sent a quartet of minor league prospects to Cincinnati and acquired flamethrower Aroldis Chapman. Under ordinary circumstances, this would have been considered a heist; however, given the uncertainty of a potential suspension, the price was forced to drop significantly.
So, the Yankees now had an under-30 2nd baseman who hits for power and average, who also managed to make a smooth transition defensively. They also had a lights-out closer, in waiting. But then, as a team hovering around .500 right up to the deadline, Chapman was sent packing in exchange for aforementioned Warren, Torrez, McKinney, and Crawford. Torrez is considered to be a star in the making, and could well become a cornerstone infielder, perhaps at 3rd base.
Can you picture 5-4-3 DPs being turned, by 2 former Cubs (Torrez and Castro), in pinstripes? With a former Cubs closer (Chapman) on the mound, in a game that a former Cubs reliever/starter (Warren), is the winner? Essentially, the Yankees have at the bare minimum, a stud prospect, an everyday 2nd baseman, a closer, and a guy that can setup, pitch long relief, be a spot starter, and compete for a rotation slot in Spring Training, and literally gave up NOTHING, other than Brendan Ryan, and $86 million.
Sure, you can make the argument that it’s really a 3-year deal, given that Chapman has the ability to opt-out (which he’ll likely do, unless he has a down year in 2018, or gets hurt.) But what was the alternative? Mark Melancon went to the Giants on a 4 year, $62 million deal, Betances is questionable as a closer, and Chapman has already proven he’s got the goods.
For all the flack that Brian Cashman has received over his tenure as GM of the Yankees, he’s done nothing but make this team better, when given the autonomy from above, to make the moves necessary.
Theo Epstein is widely regarded as perhaps the best at what he does in the game, and rightfully so – he’s the guy that managed to break not ONE, but TWO curses – the curse of the Babe, and the curse of the billy goat. And yet, aside from Brendan Ryan, what other former Yankees are on the current Cubs roster, or in their system?
The Yankees have 6 former Cubs – Chapman, Warren, Castro, Torrez, McKinney, and Crawford. Not bad.
Brian Cashman is a genius.