Former Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman is again in the news today, this time because the New York Yankees are in the process of trading him to the Chicago Cubs. Chapman, you'll remember, only ended up in New York in the first place after a deal that would've sent him to the Los Angeles Dodgers fell apart when he was accused of domestic violence and discharging a weapon in his own garage.
That initial deal with the Dodgers reportedly included Jose Peraza, a Top 50 overall prospect who the Reds eventually picked up in the Todd Frazier trade. However, once the details of the domestic violence issue were released, the Reds' ability to fetch a similar haul at that point in time became impossible, with some national writers going so far as to call Chapman "toxic." There would likely be a suspension of some indeterminate length in Chapman's future, and with just one season remaining on his contract, any team that attempted to bring him in would be dealing with both an alleged domestic abuser and a player who could not be counted on as a contributor for a nebulous portion of a season in which they obviously would want to contend.
For the rebuilding Reds, having a pricey closer was not part of the plans, nor was keeping a player with Chapman's reputation. They then sent him to New York for what was largely perceived as a cut-rate package centered on positionless Eric Jagielo and pitcher Rookie Davis, neither of whom were on any league-wide top prospect lists. Just eight months later, it now appears the Yankees are going to get Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren, and more from the Cubs, Torres being the top prospect in the talented Chicago system and a player who ranks no lower than 41st on the MLB top prospect lists by Baseball America, MLB.com, and Baseball Prospectus.
It's the kind of flip that prompted Baseball America's managing editor JJ Cooper to acknowledge this:
What's also obvious is Yankees are going to trade Chapman to Cubs for WAY more in talent than they spent to acquire him from Reds.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) July 25, 2016
In other words, it took exactly 31.1 of the usual IP from Chapman and the Yankees' willingness to wait out the suspension announcement and house a player with Chapman's reputation for the player to completely recoup his value. It's something Jeff Passan looked at in his latest 10 Degrees column for Yahoo (Verizon?) Sports today, as he once again echoed the "toxic" nature of the situation from back in December while conceding a painfully obvious point, too:
Baseball is the same as all other sports, willing to look past any moral or ethical conflict so long as on-field performance doesn’t wane.
It's unfortunately true, and at least a small part of that is on all of us for letting it be that way. The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan also looked back at the Reds' decision to part with Chapman at his absolute least valuable moment in today's B.A.R.
Passan's article also touches on the current situation between the Reds and Jay Bruce, highlighting how difficult it is to time trading players at peak value versus rock bottom value. Or, at least how difficult it has been for the Reds to do such things, given the timing of the Chapman deal and holding on to Todd Frazier through his brutal second half of 2015 before letting him go. With Bruce, the decision not to trade him last year while he, too, fought through a miserable second half may well be one of their better decisions. Provided, of course, that they cash in on him in the next seven days, since both his .871 OPS and 128 OPS+ would be career highs for a single season.
Bruce's name - and that of Anthony DeSclafani, at least briefly - has been connected to the Texas Rangers of late, thanks to Prince Fielder's neck issue shelving him indefinitely and Shin-Soo Choo again on the DL. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News poured some cold water on those rumors last night, however.
Over at Beyond the Box Score, Rob Rogacki looked at the best potential upgrades for contending teams in a position by position breakdown, and Zack Cozart's name popped up as a numerical fit with the Seattle Mariners.
Finally, Ken Griffey, Jr. was officially inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday, and MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has a comprehensive recap of the events and Junior's speech. He also spoke with Bruce, whose emergence as a rookie in 2008 effectively ended Junior's stint with the Reds, as the now Hall of Famer was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Nick Masset, et al, shortly after Bruce's sparkling debut.