The Yankees Should Be Ecstatic About the Aroldis Chapman Trade
There aren't many trades in sports that can immediately be classified as a "win" for both sides.
We've already seen that the Chicago Cubs are now better equipped for the postseason by acquiring Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees. But as for the Yankees? They come out smelling like roses, too.
Yanks and Cubs have a deal. Torres, mckinney, Warren and likely 1 more to NYY.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 25, 2016
That's 19-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres, 21-year-old outfielder Billy McKinney, and former Yankee Adam Warren. The fourth piece ended up being another outfielder in 22-year-old Rashad Crawford, according to Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago. That's a whole lotta exciting youth and one interesting pitcher in that package.
With the Yankees' playoff odds at 7.8% in our algorithms, they had no real use for a lights-out closer, so getting anything with true forward-looking value is a plus.
The Yankees just happened to get a boatload of it.
Let's dig a bit deeper into things to see what exactly the Yankees are receiving in exchange for Chapman's services. Once we do, it should be pretty clear why this trade ended up being highly beneficial for both sides.
The center piece of all of this is clearly Torres, a guy held in high regard with every outlet possible.
When Keith Law of ESPN released his updated prospect rankings earlier this month, Torres was 26th on the list after previously sitting 15th in Law's preseason top 100. Torres is 27th on Baseball America's updated rankings and the 24th-best prospect, according to MLB.com. Errybody love them some Gleyber, and it's not hard to see why when you peep his stats.
In his first 409 plate appearances at High-A this year, Torres held a .275/.359/.433 slash. That may seem underwhelming at first glance, but it's actually quite the opposite. He's a full 3.5 years younger than the average player in the Carolina League, and the league-wide slash line is .255/.332/.384. He's blowing away the competition as one of only three every-day teenagers in the league.
In Law's midseason write-up of Torres, he noted that Torres' home park in Myrtle Beach is one that's notoriously rough on power. That shows up in Torres' splits. He has 8 dingers on the road compared to 1 at home, helping him rack up a .306/.390/.530 slash away from TicketReturn.com Field. It's dangerous to draw too many conclusions from a sample of 213 plate appearances, but this should illustrate that Torres' home park is suppressing his overall numbers quite a bit.
If there's one concern with Torres, it'd be his strikeout rate. That's sitting at 21.3% this year at High-A, and it was 21.0% one level lower last year. Part of that is certainly age-related, but it's still a bit higher than you'd ideally like to see for a high-level prospect that low in the minors. The positive is that his strikeout rate falls to 19.6% with an 11.6% walk rate from June 1st on, so it's possible he's making adjustments. Either way, things line up well for Torres to excel in a few years, whether that's at shortstop or somewhere else on the diamond.
McKinney's numbers this year haven't been quite as stellar as Torres', but he does come with a decent billing. He has spent the first half of the year at Double-A, posting a .252/.355/.322 slash with just 1 home run and 2 stolen bases. Over the past two seasons, he has recorded 657 plate appearances at the level, accumulating a .267/.351/.369 slash with 4 home runs. Outside of the 11.3% walk rate and 17.5% strikeout rate, it would seem there are some reasons for concern there.
As with Torres, McKinney's numbers may not be fully reflective of his talent. He suffered a hairline fracture in his kneecap last year, cutting his season short, and it's possible some of that may have dragged over into his 2016 season. Additionally, he's 3.1 years younger than the average cookie in the Southern League, so you'd expect struggles to some degree. MLB.com still has him ranked as the 75th overall prospect, so it would seem premature to exclude him from the discussion as a future contributor.
Change of Scenery for Warren
Although Torres is the key add here, that's not to toss Warren aside. He'll be entering his second stint with the Yankees, and based on some of his peripheral stats, his time with the Cubs may appear worse than it actually was.
Warren logged 35 innings in 29 appearances and one start with the Cubs, allowing a 5.91 ERA over the span. The Cubs cut the cord on him quickly after acquiring him in the Starlin Castro trade over the offseason, making you wonder how things went so south so quickly.
The big thing with Warren was his frightening walk rate. He managed to issue 19 walks in those 35 innings, accounting for 12.5% of the total batters he faced. When you toss in his 17.8% strikeout rate, it's easy to see why he would struggle.
This isn't to say that it was all bad, though. His swinging-strike rate for the year is 10.7%, equal to the mark he posted as a full-time reliever with the Yankees back in 2014. That year, though, his strikeout rate was 23.5%, helping him post a 3.01 SIERA. It's hard to figure out why two seasons so similar in one aspect would differ in others, but it is at least a reason to believe that Warren is not completely broken.
The Cubs thought highly enough of Warren to acquire him for Castro. Just 35 innings later, he's headed back to the Yankees. It's impossible to write a player off after just 35 innings, no matter how brutal the struggles may be in that time. Whether it's as a reliever or a starter, there's still a non-zero chance that Warren corrects his walk issues and becomes usable again, in which case this could be a nice little addition to an already-tasty package for the Yankees.
In trading Chapman, the Yankees took the first step toward bolstering their team for the future. If more moves follow prior to the trade deadline, this team could build a nice little reserve of talent quickly, and Monday's trade was a solid start.
Torres is one of the game's top prospects, and he's already performing respectably as a 19-year-old in a tough park at High-A ball. Adding him to prospects like Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, and Gary Sanchez can give you optimism that the Yankees' aging offense won't lag for long.
McKinney hasn't had a great season at Double-A, but he has shown quality performances in the past. When you're in a position similar to where the Yankees are, risk isn't a bad thing. Instead, playing for the upside of McKinney's billing as a quality prospect could pay major dividends down the road.
Finally, we've already seen Warren be a competent bullpen arm in the Majors who has also been at least a capable starter. If he can cut down the walks and get his strikeout rate to match what his swinging-strike rate says it should be, then he can again be a decent ballplayer. It's a lot of "ifs," but in the Yankees' position as a team playing for the future, that's what they should be looking for as a buy-low opportunity.
The Yankees did the right thing in moving a player who likely wouldn't help them much long term, and in return, they got a pretty nice haul. The Cubs also got themselves one of the best relievers in the game. Both teams appear to have successfully progressed in their pursuit of their individual goals, making this trade look like a major boon for both sides.