Report: Cubs eyeing Japanese reliever

943565.png

Report: Cubs eyeing Japanese reliever

The Cubs are reportedly interested in Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, according to Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News (ht CubsDen).

The 32-year-old right-hander is currently a free agent and has been courted by several MLB teams in addition to the Cubs, including the Diamondbacks, Angels and Dodgers. The Rangers have also scouted the closer.

Fujikawa has reportedly visited Chicago and Arizona in person.

The 6-foot, 168-pound righty has racked up 219 saves over the last seven seasons for the Hanshin Tigers and has 914 strikeouts in 689.2 innings in his 12-year career.

Fujikawa, who dials it up to the mid-90s with his fastball, has not sported an ERA above 2.01 since 2004 and was 2-2 with a 1.32 ERA, 24 saves and 58 Ks in 47.2 innings last season.

Cubs' Tom Ricketts has 'high expectations' for Aroldis Chapman despite checkered past

Cubs' Tom Ricketts has 'high expectations' for Aroldis Chapman despite checkered past

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts released a statement on Monday following the Aroldis Chapman trade with the New York Yankees

Ricketts addresses Chapman's past domestic incident and the importance of reducing domestic violence.

“Obviously, we are aware of the circumstances surrounding Aroldis Chapman's suspension earlier this season. We are also aware that he cooperated fully with the league investigation and takes responsibility for his actions.

“Today, prior to completing the trade, Theo, Jed and I spoke with Aroldis. I shared with him the high expectations we set for our players and staff both on and off the field. Aroldis indicated he is comfortable with meeting those expectations.

“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.”

Chapman also added the following:

“As you know, earlier this year I accepted and served a 30-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my actions of October 30, 2015. I regret that I did not exercise better judgment and for that I am truly sorry. Looking back, I feel I have learned from this matter and have grown as a person. My girlfriend and I have worked hard to strengthen our relationship, to raise our daughter together, and would appreciate the opportunity to move forward without revisiting an event we consider part of our past.

"Out of respect for my family, I will not comment any further on this matter."

Cubs make blockbuster Aroldis Chapman trade with Yankees

Cubs make blockbuster Aroldis Chapman trade with Yankees

The Cubs made a blockbuster deal to acquire superstar closer Aroldis Chapman from the New York Yankees, the team announced Monday, in a win-now move that would cement their status as World Series favorites.

This is why Theo Epstein’s front office spent years collecting long-term assets, so the Cubs could bundle young talent and get the pennant-race game changer they needed, without completely mortgaging their future.     

The headliner for the Yankees will be Gleyber Torres, a consensus top prospect and a defensively gifted shortstop out of Venezuela. Torres is only 19 years old and had already advanced to the high Class-A level, but he didn’t have a clear path to Wrigley Field with middle infielders Addison Russell and Javier Baez already in place.

No one can replace Chapman’s 105-mph fastball, but the Yankees are also planning to bring back swingman Adam Warren to help patch together their pitching staff again. Warren – who had been optioned back to Triple-A Iowa on Sunday to stretch out as a starter – never really carved out a role after arriving in Chicago through the Starlin Castro trade.

Chasing the franchise’s first championship since 1908, the Cubs are also prepared to give up two minor-league outfielders: Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford. McKinney – a first-round pick acquired along with Russell from the Oakland A’s in the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade – had been hitting .252 with one homer and a .677 OPS in 88 games at Double-A Tennessee this season. Crawford, 22, had teamed with Torres at advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach, hitting .255 with 22 stolen bases in 83 games.

The cost is high for a rental player who can become a free agent after this season, but there is no one else out there quite like Chapman, and the Cubs can make sense of the trade by knowing they are still saturated with young position players, and didn’t have to give up Kyle Schwarber, a slugger the Yankees coveted in any deal for All-Star reliever Andrew Miller.     

The Cubs also apparently rationalized the 30-game suspension Chapman served this season under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy after an incident with his girlfriend in South Florida last fall.

This would allow manager Joe Maddon to shorten games and change the entire shape of his bullpen, moving closer Hector Rondon to the eighth inning while freeing up setup guy Pedro Strop and new additions Joe Nathan and Mike Montgomery.     

It’s also a move against the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants, two first-place teams in the market for bullpen help that now might have to face Chapman in October. Good luck with that. Chapman converted 20-of-21 save chances for the Yankees and has 590 strikeouts in 350-plus innings in The Show.
 
There are still questions to be answered about what this all means for the Cubs, but what a way to kick off four crosstown games against the White Sox, beginning Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Cubs closing in on Aroldis Chapman deal with Yankees

Cubs closing in on Aroldis Chapman deal with Yankees

MILWAUKEE – The Cubs are in the final stages of a blockbuster deal that could bring superstar closer Aroldis Chapman to Chicago and would involve sending elite shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres to the New York Yankees, sources familiar with the situation said Sunday night.

The exact details aren’t clear, but the talks reached a point where the Cubs pulled Torres from the lineup at advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach, at least sensing the strong possibility of a trade that would add a 105-mph closer to a first-place team that entered the year as World Series favorites.

Chapman, 28, began this season serving a 30-game suspension covered by Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy after a dispute with his girlfriend in South Florida last fall. In absorbing a supremely talented player with real baggage, the Cubs would believe in manager Joe Maddon’s personality and a strong clubhouse culture, figuring it might only be a two-month-plus rental before Chapman cashes in as a free agent. 

That incident scared the Cubs away during the offseason, when a Chapman trade between the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers collapsed at the winter meetings as those police reports surfaced. The Yankees waited for the price to drop, acquired the flame-throwing lefty at a steep discount and weathered the PR storm. 

Chapman enjoyed the bright lights and performed in New York, converting 20-of-21 save chances and striking out 44 batters in 31-plus innings. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo – who once challenged the Cincinnati dugout to a fight after Chapman buzzed two 100-mph pitches near a teammate’s head – said last month: “The game’s over when he comes in.”

That would be the idea for Theo Epstein’s front office, creating a dominant force that could help carry the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. 

Even Hector Rondon – who’s developed into a very good closer while the Cubs rebuilt their organization (77 saves since 2014) – recently admitted he would understand if the Cubs decided to trade with the Yankees.

“If they bring in a Chapman or (an Andrew) Miller, if they put him in my spot, whatever, s--- happens,” Rondon said last week. “I can’t control that. The most important thing for me is to come into the game, pitch my inning – whatever inning they put me in – and do my job.
    
“If we get one of those guys, I’m fine. It’s better for us.”

Torres is only 19 years old and a consensus top prospect, showing up in the midseason rankings on ESPN (No. 26), Baseball America (No. 27) and Baseball Prospectus (No. 34). The Cubs had signed Torres out of Venezuela during the summer of 2013, giving him a $1.7 million bonus and trying to stockpile enough assets to create a perennial contender. It sounds like it’s almost time to cash in one of those huge trade chips.