UPDATE 11: 30 PM (J0hn): I've had two names thrown at me for the PTBNL, the first was Raul Alcantara but that seems unlikely if Keith Law is right, who said that the PTBNL won't change the value of the deal. A second, unconfirmed name I got was Dustin Driver, who is a power pitcher who can touch 96 but needs a lot of work on everything else. Good athlete, good arm, but very raw.
According to Ken Rosenthal the Cubs have traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A's for Addison Russell, Dan Straily, Billy McKinney, and a PTBNL. Samardzija was scheduled to pitch against the Nationals tomorrow, Hammel threw earlier today. Samardzija had a dominant start to the season before going through a rocky June. He still has a pretty 2.83 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP, however and will be a nice addition to the Oakland staff. Hammel was having a darling season for the Cubs, sporting a 2.98 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. He was an obvious flip candidate.
This trade gives the Cubs a lot of juice on the prospect front as Russell joins Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara on the farm. Russell is an athletic shortstop with the tools to stick at the position. At the plate Russell grades as a solid hitter with intriguing power upside. Jason Parks called him an “instinctual hitter” and he has the one tool that gets you to the majors, bat to ball ability. He missed some time this year with a hamstring issue but he’s done well at AA so far. The A’s have been aggressive with him and he’s responded well. Russell is a top shelf shortstop prospect who belongs in the discussion with the Lindor’s and Baez’s.
We'll have more analysis up as the story develops, including a full write up on the outgoing and incoming pieces here.
What it means for the A's
The A's are getting back a good pitcher in Samardzija and a reclamation project whose turned in a good half season in Hammel. Samardzija will benefit from the dimensions at O.co and the defense that's put behind him. Samardzija is a very good #3 pitcher who can rattle off a string of dominant starts much like Matt Garza. Samardzija has ace stuff, including a big fastball and a hellacious splitter. Command was an issue in the past for Shark but he's done very well to mitigate the walks this year as he's posting what would be a career low 6.9 percent walk rate.
I tend to think that both pitchers will work out well for the Athletics considering the defense and park. The A's are clearly in contend now mode and they have world series aspirations. I think this move works well for them but I do wonder if a small upgrade here could have landed them David Price. I think the two pitcher acquisition spoke to a desire to add quality and depth, and the A's didn't have a deep system to begin with so getting another pitcher after dealing for Price would have been very difficult. It's a small quibble, as I still think they did well here, but it still begs the question.
What it means for the Cubs
Well this one is a bit more complicated.
Heading into tonight the Cubs were +1 in Run Differential and were riding a hot streak. That's likely going to end fairly soon as the Cubs will likely use some combination of Dan Straily, Dallas Beeler, Kyle Hendricks and Tsuyoshi Wada to cover for the departure of Samardzija and Hammel.
But that stuff largely doesn't matter, to be frank. What does matter is the incoming talent that is headlined by Addison Russell. We have his write up above here, but the really interesting part is how many options it gives the Cubs. They have Starlin Castro, Arismendy Alcantara, Addison Russell and of course, Javier Baez as capable shortstop options. Alcantara has the flexibility so I think he sticks around but the Cubs can do a lot with the hitting talent they've assembled here. They could trade Castro for pitching, they could trade Baez for pitching, they could put them all out there at different positions, they could do a ton of things from here on out. The Cubs have cornered the market on bats and power, which is at a premium in the game today. While they've taken a step back today, they have made a major move that puts them in the position to take two steps forward tomorrow.
We don't have a lot of Billy Beane - Theo Epstein trades to look at, there have only been four not including this one. This is the biggest one. It'll be fascinating to me to see how these moves turn out. I think the move works well for both teams as they are in different places as organizations.
Much like the Andrew Cashner for Anthony Rizzo swap, I like this trade for both sides.
Filed under: trades