Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees’ flame throwing closer who initially was termed an “asset in distress’’ by Brian Cashman and served a suspension over allegations of domestic violence, was traded to the Cubs Monday for shortstop and Cubs top prospect Gleyber Torres, former Yankees pitcher Adam Warren and two other minor-leaguers.
Cashman sought to make it clear that Chapman’s departure was not a signal that the Yankees are giving up on making the postseason, saying “this isn’t a white flag.”
Joe Girardi, speaking to reporters Monday night in Houston where the Yankees opened a three game series against the Astros, added, “It will be made evident to [the players] that, ‘Hey, we’re still in this.’ ”
Chapman had joined forces with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller to create the most formidable late inning trio in baseball. “It’s hard because I feel like part of the family here,’’ Chapman told reporters.
Chapman gives the NL-Central Division leading Cubs a mighty postseason weapon as they go for their first World Series championship since winning consecutive titles in 1907 and ‘08 seasons. “It’s exciting to join them because they have a real good chance to make the World Series,” Chapman said.
Chapman had 20 saves in 21 opportunities for the Yankees this season, with a 2.01 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings. He joined the team in May following his suspension. The Yankees had obtained Chapman from the Reds last December for four minor leaguers after the Dodgers backed out of a deal because of the domestic-violence allegations. He was a relative bargain at $11,325,000.
“He did a great job while he was here,’’ Cashman said on a conference call. “Obviously we acquired him in the winter time and he did all the right things while he was here in New York and in that clubhouse and on that field. We appreciated all his efforts.’’
As for dealing Chapman, Cashman said, “This was an easy call and this was the right call. Easy because we traded from an area of strength and we are excited about the players we received for someone that obviously was under control for, you know, two more months.’’
From the Yankees’ standpoint, the future centerpiece of the deal is the 19-year-old Torres. Since first joining the Cubs’ minor leagues in 2014, Torres is batting .285 with 14 home runs and 144 RBIs in 270 games through July 24. He has a .358 on-base percentage and a .944 fielding percentage. Torres has yet to play above the Single-A advanced level. Torres has only played shortstop since becoming a pro. He could be moved to second or become,a valuable trade chip in the future. He is not projected as a replacement for Didi Gregorius.
The Yankees also received outfield prospects Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford. Torres and Crawford will be assigned to the Yankees’ Single-A affiliate in Tampa and Crawford to Double-A Trenton.
Warren, who had been demoted by the Cubs to Triple A, played a valuable role on the 2015 Yankees as as spot starter and in the bullpen. Warren is expected to report to the Yankees Tuesday.
Cashman said Warren’s inclusion was key in getting the deal approved by Hal Steinbrenner, the club’s managing general partner. The reconfigured Yankees bullpen will also include Luis Severino, who was recalled from Triple A.
As for any future moves before the Aug. 1 nonwaiver trade deadline, Cashman said, “We could be buyers, we could be sellers, we could be both. This was a circumstance where we determined it was something that we needed to maximize value and capitalize on it.’’
With Greg Logan
A snapshot look at the four players the Yankees are getting from the Cubs in exchange for Aroldis Chapman:
Birthplace: Caracas, Venezuela
MLB.com Prospect Rating: No. 24
Class A Myrtle Beach
Birthplace: Birmingham, Ala.
MLB.com Prospect Rating: No. 75
Class A Myrtle Beach