The rampant excitement surrounding the trade for superstar closer Aroldis Chapman is understandable. He is one of the best relief pitchers in all of baseball. Because of the deal, an already strong bullpen has gotten even more prepared for October and their chances of finally securing a World Series victory for the North Side of Chicago have increased.
But, the five-player trade did not please everyone.
Some believe Theo Epstein & Co. gave up far too much for Chapman, who is only under contract until the end of the season. This concession is entirely reasonable, as Gleyber Torres was the team’s best prospect. And Billy McKinney was set to have an anticipated debut at Wrigley as well.
Additionally, Adam Warren, acquired via the Yankees in the offseason for shortstop Starlin Castro, was dealt back to the Bronx as well in the biggest deal of the 2016 MLB season so far. Rashad Crawford, an outfielder, was lesser known in a Cubs system stacked with prospects, but there is no doubt that the depth of the prospect system has suffered a bit as a result of this trade.
But, this is why you rebuild the way the Cubs have. Like it or not, there’s no way that every single guy playing for the Cubs in the minors right now will make their way to the big team. When the chance to land a big trade deadline acquisition comes, teams that end up winners take it.
It is better to go all in and not have to sit and wonder what if.
While these concessions are entirely valid, it is time the North Side makes a huge push towards the glory that has escaped them for the past 108 years. Epstein wants to be the guy who makes it finally happen, but trying to do so with Hector Rondon closing down the final inning of the World Series was a dicey bet to make. Rondon has been the Cubs closer for the better part of the last few years, but even he himself knows that acquiring Chapman is an upgrade for the team.
Shortstop Torres and outfielder McKinney are quite a lot to give up, especially if the Cubs do not win it all this year, but the Cubs have so much depth and promise within their system that they can afford to take this risk.
And the more compelling issues some have with this deal do not stop at just the details of the trade itself.
Others are dismayed with the closer’s 2015 domestic violence incident in which he admitted to firing gunshots near his girlfriend during an argument. Chapman served a league mandated 30-game suspension for his actions and has since apologized for his behavior.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 25, 2016
However, there remains a concern among much of the fan base as to the character of the team’s newest closer. In a clubhouse filled with seemingly genuinely good-hearted, young players, bringing in a man with a record of violence against women is oft putting to say the least. Fans of any sports team deserve to cheer without any moral repercussions, and the Cubs used to be that team, but now celebrating in the ninth inning will be a tricky dilemma.
In the end, the Cubs acquiring Chapman does not mean that all Cubs fans are now also supporters of domestic violence. Nor does it mean that anyone in the Cubs organization- wish to knowingly dismiss the very real issues of domestic violence, but it does show that they are not as sensitive to the issue as some would like. It can definitely be reasoned that they now value winning over a history of domestic abuse, even though Theo Epstein emphatically denied that the integrity of the front office was compromised as a result of this trade.
Taking issue with Chapman as a person is completely understandable, and it is not right to attack those who feel that way. Moral qualms about this deal are to be expected in such a strong fan base, but not everyone has the ability to ignore the off the field actions of a guy they are now supposed to root for.
Not liking one guy on your team who committed an awful, inexcusable act should not bar you from rooting them on or hoping they win a championship, but it certainly should allow for those who feel dismayed at the not so morally sound trade to voice their concern and not be attacked for those feelings. Everyone wants their team to be represented by players that are good both on and off the field, and the Cubs decided to ignore the latter for the sake of winning more games.
Whether you agree with their decision or not, Theo Epstein and the front office have decided to trust Chapman’s character and bring him on the team. He could very well be the guy on the mound when they finally win a World Series. He undoubtedly will make them the team to beat in October and bring joy to millions of Cubs fans everywhere despite all of the very reasonable concerns out there about his character.
This leaves so many Cubs fans incredibly disappointed, and though it still can allow them to cheer for their team if they wish, they now do so with many reservations that were not there before.
The character of the team and front office is now in question, and it puts a damper on any on the field accomplishments as well. Time will tell if the risk Epstein made actually pays off, but now it is a little harder to cheer for the team that so many love. I know I am not alone in the Cubs fan base in being upset that my team has a known abuser on it and that the team is, in fact, celebrating the acquisition of him. I want the Cubs to win a World Series. But, I really do not want them to do so with with a man who fired shots near his girlfriend throwing the last pitch. Put simply, Chapman’s past disqualifies him from deserving to be the last guy on the mound when a World Series championship is finally brought to the Cubs. And it is truly unfortunate that he may be the guy to finally do it.