clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Rizzo on Chapman deal: ‘We’re making a statement’

Aroldis Chapman

If this is about baseball, the Cubs look like they won the day by acquiring the hardest-throwing pitcher in baseball history to close games for them and significantly raise their World Series expectations.

Of course, nothing ever seems that simple for the Cubs, who accepted Aroldis Chapman’s domestic-violence past when they gambled on his immediate future by acquiring him from the Yankees in a 4-for-1 trade Monday.

The Yankees got the Cubs’ top prospect, 19-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres, along with right-hander Adam Warren and a pair of minor-league outfielders: Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.

“I’m glad no one else got him. He was going to go somewhere, so it’s good to have him on our side,” said All-Star third baseman Kris Bryant who didn’t want to comment on the allegations of domestic abuse last winter and Chapman’s subsequent 30-game suspension under major league baseball’s domestic violence policy. “I don’t know enough about the situation or what happened.”

Players and manager Joe Maddon talked about “clean slates” and “not pre-judging,” and some talked about good things they’d heard about Chapman as a teammate and person in New York after returning from his suspension.

Epstein said that even after reaching agreement on the four-player package, the front office and ownership would not sign off on the deal until a phone conversation with Chapman Monday to discuss the incident in which he allegedly choked his girlfriend and then fired gunshots into a couch in his garage – and the expectations the Cubs have for him with their team.

“If we had not been satisfied with what we heard from Aroldis, we would not have moved forward, on those grounds,” Epstein said.

In the end, the Cubs made the baseball decision they felt the opportunity demanded.

“You can’t take for granted the position that we’re in right now,” said Epstein, whose club took the best record in baseball into its four-game stretch against the White Sox this week.

“This was a show of faith in our big-league team,” he said. “It was an aggressive move. It was tough to give up what we gave up. But if not now, when? This was the appropriate move given where we are and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The value of a 105-mph closer – and the way it figures to lengthen the Cubs’ lineup of power setup pitchers – has been underscored the last two Octobers by the Kansas City Royals’ power bullpen that played major roles in their back-to-back World Series.

“Talking to their guys, they just knew after the fifth or sixth inning, the game was over,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “That’s a good feeling to have.

“We’re making a statement here.”

Rizzo understands the way that statement reads to many who view Chapman’s off-the-field issues as a reason the team should have dismissed his potential playoff value

“Mistakes were made. He served his suspension,” Rizzo said. “Playing in New York for the Yankees isn’t easy, and you didn’t hear anything, not even a peep over there in New York about him. We don’t see it being any different here. There’s things in life that you have to overcome, and not everyone’s perfect.”

Chapman, who’s scheduled to join the Cubs Tuesday, was still in play for several Cubs’ potential playoff rivals until the deal was reached Monday morning, with the Nationals believed to be their closest rival for him.

That caused the Cubs to increase their offer late, Epstein said. But industry insiders say the Cubs did well even after adding to the package – especially given the luxury of two young starter-caliber shortstops on the big-league roster in Addison Russell (22) and Javy Baez (23).

“None of those guys is going to hurt them,” said one longtime evaluator familiar with the Cubs’ organization, rating only Torres as a high-ceiling prospect. “And that’s not going to hurt them because they’ve got Baez.”

After the trade the Cubs released statements from Ricketts and Chapman. Chapman’s statement included “regret,” a desire to “move forward” and the assertion he had “learned” and “grown” from the incident and aftermath.

Included in Ricketts’ statement:

“Finally, my family, this team and Major League Baseball take the issue of domestic violence very seriously and support efforts to reduce domestic violence through education awareness and intervention.”