How much do the Cubs believe Aroldis Chapman will do for their World Series chances?
Hector Rondon lost his job and said: “I’m great with that. I’m really happy.”
Added the Cubs’ third-year closer, who will move into a setup role to make way for the new 105-mph All-Star closer: “Anything that helps us get to where we need to be, I’ll take it.”
Rondon, who has converted 18 of 22 saves this season with a 1.95 ERA, met with team president Theo Epstein immediately after the Cubs completed Monday’s 4-for-1 trade with the Yankees to acquire Chapman.
“The one thing I wanted to communicate to Hector was at no point did we say we’re worried about Hector Rondon and we need to go out and get a new closer,” Epstein said. “Instead, the question we asked ourselves was how can we get even better so that we can put ourselves in a position to try to get to the playoffs and win three postseason series.
“We felt like this trade made us better because of the importance of having three or four shutdown relievers in the postseason and down the stretch.”
Rondon, who was especially effective late last season during the Cubs’ playoff run, said he’s fine pitching wherever the Cubs need him out of a bullpen that in the past few days also added power lefty Mike Montgomery and six-time All-Star closer Joe Nathan.
“The only thing that matters to me is that I come in and do my job,” Rondon said. “I know I did a really good job in my role. It’s no big deal. You see my numbers; they’re really good. But I know the front office did a really good job to get Chapman, and I think if you have a chance to get that guy you better take it.”
Barring a DL move when Chapman joins the club Tuesday, left-hander Clayton Richard is the likely odd man out in an eight-man bullpen.
Rizzo: No bad blood with Chapman
During a game two years ago, just before the All-Star break, Anthony Rizzo threw down his glove at first base and stalked toward the Cincinnati Reds dugout to take on the entire Reds team – but specifically targeting Aroldis Chapman, who continued to yap after the Cubs had a problem with him throwing up and in to Cubs hitters.
Two years later, Epstein said Rizzo was the most excited of players he spoke with after acquiring Chapman.
“We’re here to win a World Series championship. Our ballclub just got a lot better,” said Rizzo, who never got the chance to confront Chapman – then met him a few days later when they were National League teammates at the All-Star game.
“What happened was two, three years ago and was water under the bridge two or three days after it happened at the All-Star game,” Rizzo said. “We’ve seen each other plenty of times since and said hello.
Notes: Manager Joe Maddon used Dexter Fowler as his designated hitter Monday and plans to do it again Tuesday with the center fielder less than a week removed from the disabled list for a hamstring injury. “He’s come back rather quickly ,and we want to really make sure he doesn’t re-injure that,” Maddon said. … Maddon said with Adam Warren gone in Monday’s trade, right-hander Trevor Cahill steps into Warren’s old role as the Cubs sixth starter. Warren made a spot start just before the break. Cahill (knee) is on a minor league rehab assignment, having made two starts with AAA Iowa.