It’s been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs have won a World Series. But their odds of ending the curse have improved significantly after acquiring Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees in exchange for prospects.
Chapman is the hardest thrower in baseball history and could be the missing bullpen piece that the Cubs have been looking for. The 28-year-old has thrown a world-record 105.1 mph fastball, and has tossed many pitches over 104 mph.
Adding Chapman improves the Cubs’ odds of winning the NL Central as well as the National League.
Following the Chapman trade, our line at GTBets.eu gives Chicago +160 odds of winning the NL pennant, best in the National League.
Of course, the first step will be holding off the St. Louis Cardinals (53-47), who now sit 6.5 games behind the Cubs (59-40) in the Central. As discussed in our mid-season predictions, we think Chicago will walk away with the division. But it seems even more likely now that they’ve strengthened their bullpen.
Chapman joins another new acquisition, left-hander Mike Montgomery, in a bullpen that also includes closer Hector Rondon, setup pitcher Pedro Strop, and rookie Carl Edwards Jr.
Chapman could take over Rondon’s role as closer, forcing Rondon to middle-inning or setup work.
The Chapman deal comes at a price, though, since the Cubs had to give up their top prospect, Gleyber Torres, along with OF Billy McKinney, OF Rashad Crawford, and RHP Adam Warren.
Torres, who could end up at second base, is a nice payoff for the Yankees, especially since they got Chapman cheap in the winter. He was suspended for one month following a domestic incident, which cast doubt on his character.
Despite the suspension, Chapman looked as good as ever this season, drawing heavy trade interest from the Washington Nationals (58-42) and Cleveland Indians (57-41), both of whom have their eyes on the World Series too. The Yankees (52-48) settled on Chicago’s package of prospects.
Chapman has pitched 31.3 innings this year, striking out 44 batters and walking just eight – giving him a career-best walk rate. Considering Chicago’s struggles with late-inning pitching, they’ll get a tremendous boost from Chapman’s skills.
As for New York, they were below .500 at the All-Star break, which is unfamiliar territory for a team that hasn’t had a losing record in 24 years. They’ve played better since the break and sit at four games above .500.
But this hasn’t stopped them from exploring trade options as they look towards the future, rather than making the uphill climb to catch AL East leader Baltimore (58-41) and second-place Toronto (57-42).
Torres is a good place to begin with their rebuild because, at 19, he’s one of the youngest players in High-A baseball. He also has a good statline at .275/.359/.433.
Another valuable trade piece that could net the Yankees some assets is reliever Andrew Miller. The 31-year-old has pitched 45.5 innings, tallying a 1.39 ERA, 77 strikeouts, and a 6-1 record.
We identified Miller as one of the most-likely players to be traded by the deadline. With 5 days left before the Aug. 1 deadline, there’s still a very good chance that Miller could be moved in exchange for prospects.
As for the Cubs, they’re in win-now mode and currently sit with the best record in baseball. They’re desperate to win the franchise’s first championship since 1908 and end the streak of seven-straight World Series.
The Nationals, San Francisco Giants (59-41), and L.A. Dodgers (57-44) could prove as tough roadblocks to getting to the World Series. But Chicago seems one step closer to their dream after acquiring Chapman.