HOUSTON — The Yankees’ decision to trade reliever Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs Monday raised as many questions for the players in the clubhouse as the long-expected move answered. If there was one thing on which they could agree, it’s that the Yankees will miss the radar-gun revving excitement he brought to every game that he closed.
“Certainly, you hate to lose a guy like Chapman,” third baseman Chase Headley said before the Yankees faced the Astros in the first game of a three-game series Monday night at Minute Maid Park. “He’s really the only person in the world that can do what he does. He’s one of a kind. Having said that, we have a couple other guys who are really, really good that have proved they can do the job last year.”
Headley was referring to back-end relievers Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, who now will revert to the roles they had last year with Betances setting up in the eighth and Miller closing. The numbers say they have pitched every bit as effectively as Chapman this season, but only Chapman regularly throws between 102 and 105 miles per hour in the ninth inning, forcing players and fans alike to check the radar gun after every pitch.
“He was very exciting,” outfielder Carlos Beltran said. “I think Chicago will experience that. He’s one of the best closers in the game, a guy who comes to shut the door. He’s a great person, a great human being, great teammate. You don’t want to see one of those persons going, but at the end of the day, that’s the business of baseball.”
In return for Chapman, the Yankees received 19-year-old shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, help for the bullpen with former Yankee Adam Warren returning in time for tonight’s game and minor league prospects Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.
General manager Brian Cashman said, ‘One deal doesn’t necessarily create a domino effect.” But players sense the possibility of more major pieces being sold before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
“I’ll leave that to him,” Headley said of Cashman. “Our job is to go out and try to win today’s game. His job is a lot more complex than ours. He’s trying to balance the short term with the long term. You try to put your head down and plow through it and play the best you can.”
Cashman acknowledged Torres is the primary component of the deal, and since the Yankees have Didi Gregorious at shortstop, he admitted Torres eventually could be tried at second. That position is manned now by Starlin Castro, who got to know Torres in the Arizona Instructional League last fall.
“We talk on Instagram sometimes,” Castro said of Torres. “He’s a good kid, a good personality. For me, he’s going to be a good player. We’ve practiced together. He’s got really good talent.”
At the same time, like everyone else, Castro said Chapman will be missed. “Chapman will make a difference wherever he goes, but we’ve still got a chance,” Castro said. “I would say it’s tough when those kind of moments come, but we can’t control that.”