Are the Astros the Mystery Team in on Chapman
You have to love the trade deadline season, there is always a mystery team involved in any trade rumors. The Houston Astros have been the mystery team several times in the past, but often the mystery team could be a negotiation tactic to get more in return. Earlier in the week, I wrote that the Astros could be a good fit for flame-throwing reliever Aroldis Chapman, especially with the recent signing of one his former teammates.
Chapman is a Cuban defector, just like the newest Astros player Yulieski Gurriel. They played together before and could relish the opportunity to play together again. Chapman is in the final year of his contract and would become a free-agent next season. The Yankees could offer him a qualifying offer to return for the 2017 season, but the Astros could not if they would acquire him.
Gurriel’s presence and the product that the Astros are building could get Chapman to re-sign a three-year deal, but until that time, he will be a rental player. Because he is a rental player, he would cost less than Andrew Miller, Chris Archer, or Chris Sale. However, the Houston Astros have plenty of competition trying to acquire the left-hander who can throw 100 mph. Would the Astros want to get into a bidding war over him, probably not, but they have gone after him in the past as a Mystery Team.
Some teams that have shown interest in Chapman include the Nationals, Cubs, Indians, and Giants. The Indians may have the better players on the table, but the Nationals have been aggressive. The Astros could be entering into the equation to make the bullpen even more dangerous.
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Why trade for Chapman? He would further lengthen and strengthen the Astros bullpen. All-Star closer Will Harris could move back to the setup role, and the other strong arms could move down in the pecking order. This could shorten the game, get the starting pitcher through six innings, and have the bullpen close out the game.
Chapman’s 2016 Stats: 3-0/ 2.01 ERA/ 44 SO in 31 1/3 innings.
The Yankees could trade Chapman without be labeled as sellers. The Yankees might have picked up Chapman for the sole purpose of flipping him if they had the opportunity because they got him cheap this past offseason. He became damaged goods with the pending suspension this past offseason following his domestic violence issues. The Reds wanted to get him out of town, and the Yankees were very aggressive trying to obtain him.
I am not sure how Astros fans would respond if the team traded for Chapman, but it would be a sign that the Astros front office is doing what they can to win this year. Let’s see how this all plays out. He will be in town starting tomorrow, and the Astros scouts will get to watch an Astros game. Could he switch locker rooms?
Update: Looks like he is going to the Indians.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***