On Monday, the New York Yankees made their second major move of the off-season, acquiring All Star closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds for a quartet of prospects- third baseman Eric Jagielo, right-handers Rookie Davis and Caleb Cotham, and second baseman Tony Renda. Here are the SportsZone Trade Grades for both teams:


Having already moved Johnny Cueto (for a quality return) at the deadline and Todd Frazier (for a disappointing return) at the Winter Meetings, Chapman was the next big name they had to move to further their rebuilding process, and now that it’s in the books, it’s pretty obvious they should have moved him in July rather than wait as long as they did. Not only were they on the verge of getting better prospects in June, but because they waited until the off-season, their efforts to maximize his value were entirely undermined by an investigation by Major League Baseball into domestic violence charges against Chapman that put a halt to a proposed trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier in the month. Given the circumstances, they did do well in this trade, getting two of the Yankees top 10 prospects, while also acquiring a major league ready bullpen arm in Cotham, and an unheralded talent in Renda who has plus speed and could develop into an above average hitter if given enough time to develop.

While Davis is considered the prize in the trade after his breakout 2015 season that ended with him in Double-A, before arthroscopic surgery ended his season Jagielo was considered a possible replacement for Chase Headley when his contract expires after next season. At age 23, he is still ranked as the seventh best third base prospect in baseball with 35 home runs in his first two seasons of pro ball, with a good eye at the plate, culminating in a .284/.347/.495 slash line with nine home runs in only 248 Double-A at bats before his surgery. The Reds could have their future third baseman, as well as an impact arm in Davis, salvaging the return for a player whose trade value had dramatically fallen over the last month. While they did wind up being hurt for not moving Chapman at the deadline, they still came out decent in the end.


While just about every team in baseball was scared off by Chapman’s domestic violence charges, the Yankees saw it as another opportunity to get an impact player at a discount, after already acquiring former All Star Starlin Castro earlier in the off-season. With Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances already in the fold, the Yankees were in the unique position of being able to add another All Star to form one of the most intimidating end of game combinations in the game, but also having the depth in the incumbent duo to be able to take the risk of Chapman possibly being suspended without it impacting them like it would another club not as deep in the back-end of the bullpen. The added advantage the Yankees have is that if Chapman, expected to be a free agent after the 2016 season, is suspended for more than 45 days of the regular season due to suspension, he’ll fall shy of reaching the six years of Major League service needed to reach free agency, meaning the Yankees would retain him for an extra year.

The Yankees now add Chapman, who has struck out 15.4 batters per nine innings pitched in his career (the highest rate in Major League history with a minimum of 100 innings pitched) and who struck out 116 batters last season, to the only other two relief pitchers who struck out more than 100 batters last season: Miller (100 Ks) and Betances (131 Ks), in a bullpen that should rival the Kansas City Royals for the best in the league. Any of the three are capable of handling the ninth inning, while the other two would handle the seventh and eighth innings. Chapman has averaged 36 saves a season over the last four years and figures to be first in line for the ninth inning, while Miller should handle the eighth after saving 36 games in his first year as a closer, with Betances now the seventh inning man after being used mostly in the eighth inning last year. The depth of the bullpen should help a starting rotation that was 21st in the majors in innings pitched per game last season, with the majority of last year’s rotation returning for 2016. It worked for the Royals, who won the World Series in spite of a rotation that was 24th in that category. As long as they can get a lead into the bullpen, the Yankees will be tough to beat this season. The only issue with this trade is that it does not address either of their major weaknesses- they still have an aging lineup led by Mark Teixiera, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and Jacoby Ellsbury, and they still have a rotation that has yet to prove its durability. While this trade improves their greatest strength, they can only hope that their weaknesses don’t prevent them from using this strength as often as they can.

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