Just two days ago, the Yankees and Cubs finalized a deal that would send Aroldis Chapman to Chicago, and Adam Warren, Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, and Rashad Crawford over to New York. We are all familiar with Warren, despite his rough tenure with the Cubs, so I think it would be worth our time to investigate the minor league players who we may not see for years, or ever.
Torres, as we all know, is the centerpiece of this deal. He is a 19-year-old shortstop from Venezuela, and he was signed by the Cubs at the 2013 July 2nd deadline for a sizable signing bonus of $1.7 million. He is very, very far off (currently at High-A) from being major league ready, but he is already drawing decent reviews from scouts, especially when you consider that he is just one of four pieces in a deal for three months of a reliever.
One review came from Baseball Prospectus, where they rated him as the 34th best prospect in their midseason top 50. They said, "There’s no real weakness to Torres’ game. Everything but the power flashes above-average to plus, and his instincts both at the plate and in the field are impressive for any age, much less a 19-year-old... [but] if he doesn’t stick at shortstop, he doesn’t have the offensive skill set to be a first-division regular".
Eric Longenhagen, over at FanGraphs, had the following to say:
"Torres has above-average bat speed and makes good use of his hips and lower half throughout his swing, allowing him to make hard ground-ball and line-drive contact to his pull side and back up the middle... If he wanted to sell out for it, Torres could probably hit for above-average game power one day... Of course, if Torres does continue to thicken it probably means he’s no longer a shortstop. Some think he’s already teetering there... While I’m personally a bit of a snob when it comes to glovework at short, the grades below project Torres to remain at short... FV: 55"
I also asked writer and scout Mauricio Rubio (you can find his work here) about Torres, and he said that he profiles as an everyday regular but not a star, and that he has "plus bat speed... below-average raw power... fringe-average [glove]... [and his] limited foot speed hurts his range and might cause a need to move to third... where his plus arm-strength will still be an asset".
McKinney, even though he is not a top 100 prospect, is still an excellent piece considering the circumstances. Drafted as the 24th overall pick in the 2013 draft, McKinney was also an additional piece in the famous Addison Russell deal that sent him from Oakland to Chicago in 2014. He had a really bright outlook coming into this season, but a .252/.355/.322 slash at Double-A this year has caused many to adjust expectations. Longenhagen says that he has a hit tool that could develop into major league average, but his defense isn’t good enough to warrant a center field spot, and he essentially has 30 power.
Rubio has even more mixed feelings, and he told me that he has an "...average hit tool, won't develop power, below average runner, left field profile, [and he’ll] get exposed as he advances levels".
Frankly, I don’t get this one. I understand that he’s just 21-years-old and has some prospect sheen, but a corner outfielder with no power makes me scratch my head a little. We’re playing with house money already, though, so I can’t complain too much. We also don’t know what the negotiation was like, of course; this may have been the best secondary piece they could acquire.
Crawford is typical of these types of deadline deals—the lottery ticket. He was drafted in the 11th round of the 2012 draft, and he’s currently a 22-year-old at High-A. Longenhagen rightly says that he is most likely "an org player," but what he describes as an explosive tool set could pay off in some high-percentile outcome. He’s a plus runner and he plays a great center field, but the hit tool is way too questionable to get one’s hopes up. But as a fourth piece, I couldn’t be happier. Rubio agreed that he was a lottery ticket, and said his "bat lagging [is] behind so if he figures out how to hit he will have good value, but high risk".
Overall, this is a great haul. Chapman had essentially zero value to the Yankees in 2016, and I’m honestly not that upset he’s gone. The Yankees instead used their leverage to flip him for four players that can provide value today and hopefully many years from now.
Honestly, though, I feel kind of uncomfortable praising a move where the Yankees essentially took advantage of how much teams and fans care about domestic violence to maximize their profit. That’s why they’re a business, though, and we know that trying to coax corporations into behaving how we would want decent people to behave is a tall order. That’s why, if there’s anything to learn from this, it’s that providing pressure from the fan base would hopefully lessen the incentive to allow teams to do this. Nonetheless, it’s over, it happened, and here we are. At the very least, we have new baseball players, and hopefully better humans, to root for.