Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Yankees closer could be final piece for Cubs bullpen

NSR's Kevin McCarthy examines a possible trade for Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman

Trade rumors continue to swirl around Wrigley Field. With the deadline still almost two months away, it’s doubtful that any deal is imminent, but the Cubs front office is on the hunt. 

As good as the Cubs bullpen has been — they rank seventh in ERA and second in opponent batting average — there is still room for improvement. Tuesday night’s loss to the Dodgers served as evidence of this. The Cubs are still missing a solid left-handed pitcher in the pen. Clayton Richard and Travis Wood serve as viable middle-relief pitchers, but the team needs a lefty in the back end of the bullpen. 

Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon have become a dynamite set-up/closer combination. Looking at Rondon’s 1.04 ERA and 0.64 WHIP may make some fans wonder why the Cubs would be chasing another closer. 

It’s simple. Look at the Kansas City Royals the last two seasons. The reigning World Series champions have proved that a strong bullpen is necessary to win in October. It doesn’t matter how stacked your lineup is — ask the 2015 Blue Jays, 2001 Seattle Mariners, and 2011 Texas Rangers. 

And as good as the Cubs’ pen has been thus far, they’re still lacking that back-end lefty. Former Red and current Yankee Aroldis Chapman may be the perfect fit. 

Cubs fans remember Chapman all too well. The lanky lefty used to rip 101 MPH fastballs past Cubs hitters with regularity. He’s nicknamed the “Cuban Missile” for a reason, and Cubs fans should be thrilled about the possibility of a deal. Pairing him with Rondon would be a lethal combination come October. 

This deal may not be as crazy as it first sounds. Actually, the Cubs and Yankees getting together for a deal would be a match made in Heaven. The Yankees, though their fans would hate to admit it, are essentially in rebuild mode. A number of their massive contracts will come off the books in the next year or two. The team is looking to build a young core before going shopping in free agency the next couple of years — it looks like they’re finally learning that you can’t always buy wins. 

The Cubs have the young talent that the Yankees need, and since you can only play nine guys on a baseball field at one time, unloading a few prospects wouldn’t hurt the Cubs one bit. And the Yankees might just have the final piece to the Cubs championship puzzle. 

Moving pieces to acquire Chapman is the type of move that would benefit the Cubs greatly without handcuffing them for years to come. That’s not to say that he’s coming for free — he’s been the most dominant relief pitcher in baseball for the last few seasons, the price tag will still be hefty. But, this is a move that the Cubs can afford to make. 

Unfortunately, he’s only with the Yankees on a one-year deal. So, on the one hand, this would be a “rental” move — meaning the Cubs would only have him for the last few months of the season. But, a talent like Chapman would be well worth it. The 4-time All-Star would look great in Cubbie blue.  

Kevin McCarthy, a junior at the University of Illinois, is serving an internship at this summer and covering the Cubs for NorthSidersReport. You can follow him at @KevOMcCarthy on Twitter or contact him by e-mail at 

Northsiders Report Top Stories