The Yankees and Cubs have completed a deal that will send Aroldis Chapman to Chicago for shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, and outfielders Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford. Torres was the highest rated prospect in the Cubs system, according to Fangraphs and MLB.com. MLB.com also lists him as the 24th best prospect in baseball, just ahead of Jorge Mateo and Aaron Judge at 26 and 27.
According to Torres’ scouting report, his arm and polish both check out. If Torres is forced off of the shortstop position, it would be because of his fringe range and speed. But his selling point is undoubtedly his advanced bat. He is already doing well in the Carolina League, home to the Cubs’ High-A affiliate. At High-A, he is one level above where an advanced high school draftee might be in his age-19 season.
In 93 games, he owns a .273/.356/.432 slash line with nine home runs. His walk and strikeout rates are at 10.4% and 21.3%, respectively. The walks are certainly exciting, while the strikeouts can be overlooked because of his age. He also has 23 doubles, which suggests an ability to spray the ball all over the field. In my opinion, doubles are one of the more underrated stats today. Looking at players like Robinson Cano, Manny Machado, and Matt Carpenter, doubles can turn into home runs as hitters mature and add muscle.
There are two major downsides to consider. One is that Torres has yet to reach Double-A, which is somewhat of a weeder for minor league prospects. Also, if Torres can’t maintain his power through the upper levels of the minors and has to move off of the shortstop position, his value would drop pretty quickly. Still, these concerns are certainly alleviated by the fact that he is 19-years old and holding his own at High-A.
Another issue is what happens to fellow shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo. The speedy infielder got off to a scorching start, showing solid power at High-A Tampa. After teammate Miguel Andujar got promoted to Double-A, he began to slump, possibly due to his frustration of being stuck in Tampa. He earned a two-week suspension after reportedly mouthing off to the front office about it.
This season, Mateo has played 16 games at second base, while Torres has only seen action at short. Assuming Torres is sent to High-A Tampa and slides in at shortstop, it could further upset the scuffling Mateo. Then again, they might get along. In the Braves’ organization, fellow elite middle infield prospects Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies apparently have a solid bromance going, despite competing for the same position. Hopefully they can become the minor league equivalent of the Step Brothers.
Also in the trade, right-handed pitcher Adam Warren should be a familiar face. The former Yankee swingman was traded to Chicago in the offseason for Starlin Castro. Unfortunately, his time in the Windy City has been a disaster, as he has a 5.91 ERA in 29 appearances. His once deadly slider has yielded an .893 OPS this season, though his changeup has remained as dangerous as ever. Hopefully, the Yankees can figure out what has gone wrong with Warren in order to help him return to form.
The Yankees are also getting outfield prospect Billy McKinney in the deal. A former draft target before being taken by the Athletics, McKinney came to the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija trade that also brought them their current shortstop in Addison Russell. Despite the first round pedigree, scouts are not as thrilled by him as you might expect. He does have a quick left-handed swing with great hand-eye coordination and a mature approach that allows him to walk enough, but there are concerns about his power potential and presence in the field. He has enough bat speed to be hit plenty of doubles and around 15 home runs a year, and he’s athletics enough to hold his own in the outfield, but his weak arm and lack of speed profiles him as a future left fielder.
After ranking as Chicago’s No. 2 prospect and the No. 34 prospect in baseball in 2015, he’s struggled in 2016. He’s hit .252/.355/.322, seemingly losing his power swing, but maintaining his on-base abilities. The hit in production has dropped him to 5th in the system and all the way down to 75th overall.
Rashad Crawford seems to be more of a throw-in as he’s 22 and still in High-A while hitting just .255/.327/.386 on the year. He’s also another of many left-handed hitting outfielders that the Yankees seem to collect.
As for what’s next, it is tough to say whether this is a definitive white flag on the 2016 season. In trading Chapman, the Yankees dealt from a position of strength. Depending on who you ask, Andrew Miller will not be on the move unless the Yankees are blown away with an offer. Carlos Beltran could also be on the trading block, especially considering the fact that the impending free agent would probably accept a qualifying offer in the offseason, where Chapman would have netted a draft pick.
We will be sure to keep you updated on any other rumors and/or deals, so stay tuned for further trade deadline coverage. For now, let us know what you think of this trade!
Data is courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Reference.