The Chicago Cubs are having a very good season. They currently boast baseball’s second-best record. Earlier this week, their entire infield was voted to start the upcoming All-Star Game in San Diego for the National League. They’re picking up right where they left off last year, when they made the postseason for the first time since 2008 and went on to advance to the NLCS. Even though things are going well right now, the team can still make a few moves to improve themselves before the trade deadline later this month.
The Cubs don’t need more offense. The aforementioned All-Star infield that includes Anthony Rizzo (first base), Ben Zobrist (second base), Kris Bryant (third base), and Addison Russell (shortstop) is one that has a lot of power. Bryant has also been playing left field. He leads the NL in home runs, while Rizzo is tied for fifth. Both players are in the top five in the league in RBIs. Chicago’s outfield includes slugger Jason Heyward and newcomer Albert Almora Jr. Utility infielder Javier Báez has put up decent numbers in the at-bats he’s had.
The starting pitching has been relatively solid as well. With Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and John Lackey leading the rotation, they’ve been in good shape. Arrieta was also named to the All-Star team and has arguably been the best pitcher in the National League this season. He currently has a record of 12-3 with a 2.33 ERA. Lester has had a good season as well. He’s 9-4 with a 2.67 ERA and was just named to the All-Star team as well.
With the offense and starting pitching in good shape, what this team could really use is a dominant arm in the back end of the bullpen. If they had a shutdown closer like Aroldis Chapman, then they’d really be set. Chapman is currently with the New York Yankees, but they’ve let it be known that they’re open to trading him. He’s converted on 17 of the 18 save chances he’s had so far this season. The only reason that he doesn’t have more than 17 saves is because he was suspended for the first 30 games of 2016 due to a domestic violence incident in the offseason. The incident is part of the reason that the Cincinnati Reds traded Chapman to the Yankees in the offseason.
Chapman consistently throws his fastball around 100 mph. He’s always been known as one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game. This season, he has recorded 34 strikeouts over 23 innings pitched. Last year, he struck out 116 batters in 65 appearances while saving 33 games for the Reds.
The Cubs current closer, Hector Rondon, has actually had a good year. He has 13 saves and an ERA of 1.84, although he has blown four saves. If Chicago could land Chapman, Rondon would most likely thrive as a setup man. This would take pressure off guys like Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, and Trevor Cahill. The bullpen would just be strengthened overall with the addition of Chapman. Between Rondon and him, the back end of Chicago’s bullpen would be electric. Additionally, the Cubs signed veteran closer Joe Nathan back in May. He’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, but is projected to be back sometime in September. Anything he could contribute at that point would just help their bullpen even more.
From the Yankees perspective, trading Chapman would make a lot of sense. The team already has Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Both have proven that they can be dominant in the late innings. Miller was the closer last season and has done a very good job as the setup man this season. Betances was the Yankees setup man in 2015, but has now become their seventh inning guy. Between Betances, Miller, and Chapman, the Yankees have a dominant 1-2-3 punch to close out games. They don’t need all three pitchers however. Especially considering the fact that the team isn’t even over .500, it’s doubtful that they’ll be serious contenders in the American League in 2016. Chapman’s contract is up at the end of this season anyway, so even if they didn’t trade him there’s no guarantee that he’d stay. The Yankees would benefit most from trading him before the deadline on July 31. They’d have a decent trading partner in the Cubs. Chicago could offer them Javier Báez or Kyle Schwarber. Out of the two, Schwarber would be the more attractive piece, considering his power. He has the potential to be baseball’s next great power hitter. Currently, he is sidelined for the season due to a torn ACL that he suffered in April. His only weakness is defense, but on the Yankees that wouldn’t really be a problem because of the DH. If the Cubs were willing to trade him, they should definitely jump on the offer.
Winning the World Series this season is definitely a possibility for the Cubs. Aroldis Chapman could be the last piece for this team. He could be the player that really puts them over the top.