The A’s and Cubs Blockbuster Trade

We all knew Jeff Samardzija was going to get traded. We all knew Jason Hammel was going to get traded. We all knew the Oakland A’s were in the market for a starting pitcher. Perhaps, in retrospect, we should have expected some convergence of these things we knew. But I don’t think anyone expected that any team would kick start the July trading season by picking up both Cubs starters. Perhaps even fewer figured that a prospect like Addison Russell would be on the move, and I’m assuming that just about nobody could have seen a scenario in which the A’s traded Russell for a starting pitcher who wasn’t David Price.

It’s a shocking trade, one that changes the landscape in a few ways, but there’s a lot happening here, so let’s not gloss over the specifics:

  • A’s get 1.5 years of Samardzija
  • A’s get 0.5 years of Hammel
  • Cubs get SS Russell, 20, No. 11 on MLB.com’s preseason prospect list and No. 5 on Keith Law’s May update
  • Cubs get OF Billy Mckinney, 19, 2013 first-round pick and Baseball America‘s No. 2 Oakland prospect behind Russell
  • Cubs get RH SP Dan Straily, 25, owner of a 4.73 FIP in 230 major league innings
  • Cubs get unknown PTBNL

I’d like to think we can offer more insight here than “wow,” but, wow. You just don’t see trades like this. You rarely see upper-crust prospects getting traded, and when you do, like with Wil Myers, usually the team who moves them gets publicly crushed. We have two teams here at completely opposite ends of the win curve, operating from completely different motivations, and substantially impacting their present and futures by doing so.

Let’s start with the A’s here, since they’re obviously doing this with an eye towards winning now, as well they should be. Oakland is pretty clearly the best team in baseball right now, and that’s true whether you look at wins, run differential, playoff odds, any of it, to the point that we have them at a 97.9 percent chance of making the playoffs. Things would have to go really, terribly wrong for this team to miss the playoffs even as currently constituted, and that’s clearly not what this trade is about. It’s about doing better than losing in the first round, as they’ve done six times this century (plus another in the ALCS), including the last two years; it’s about taking advantage of the window their roster and the state of their competition has provided them.

You look at the rest of the American League, and you realize the circuit isn’t full of the juggernauts it used to have. The Rangers, Oakland’s main rival for the last half-decade, are an injury-ruined disaster. The Yankees are weaker than they’ve been in years. The Red Sox need a surge just to get back to .500. The Rays have completely collapsed. To have that AL East trio and Texas all down at the same time is better timing than the A’s could have possibly hoped for. The Tigers are still dangerous, but their bullpen is a mess and Justin Verlander clearly isn’t what he once was. It’s anyone’s guess what the Orioles, Royals and Mariners are going to be. The Blue Jays and Angels have offense, but they have rotation questions of their own, and suddenly there are two fewer options to go after.

And really, that’s a not-insignificant part of the prize, here. Yes, the A’s just shored up a weak spot in a big way, but they also ensured that their rivals couldn’t. Hammel may only be their fourth-best starter, but now he’s their fourth-best starter. He’s not going to be the one helping a competitor get to the playoffs or outduel them once there.

Think about how insanely competitive the AL has been for nearly a generation now, and realize how rare of a situation this was for the A’s. It’s pretty clear, then, that this is the right time to push those chips all-in. After this year, only Jed Lowrie and Jim Johnson (if he even lasts the season) are free agents, but after next year, Yoenis Cespedes, Scott Kazmir and John Jaso can all walk. Josh Donaldson, Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss and others are going to start seeing arbitration raises soon. They had to make the move now, and despite how productive their rotation has been, it’s clear that they needed to do more than cross their fingers and pray that it’d stay together; that’s how they ended up with actual replacement player Brad Mills making starts.

With just over half the season gone, we can see that the projections don’t consider any of the A’s starters likely to keep this up, for reasons that most know. Tommy Milone is a soft-tossing lefty; Scott Kazmir‘s track record, and that he hasn’t thrown 200 innings in seven years, is a concern; Jesse Chavez, though one of the season’s best stories, had two major league starts entering the year and has been hit hard in each of his last two starts.

Name ERA FIP xFIP WAR
Sonny Gray Actual 3.08 3.29 3.52 2.0
ZiPS ROS 3.54 3.38 - 1.3
Steamer RoS 3.93 3.71 - 1.1
Scott Kazmir Actual 2.61 3.42 3.45 1.8
ZiPS ROS 3.93 3.66 - 0.7
Steamer RoS 3.59 3.58 - 1.2
Tommy Milone Actual 3.79 4.58 4.57 0.5
ZiPS ROS 4.11 3.99 - 0.8
Steamer RoS 4.04 4.32 - 0.5
Jesse Chavez Actual 3.23 3.51 3.62 1.6
ZiPS ROS 4.05 3.86 - 0.3
Steamer RoS 4.09 3.99 - 0.7
Jeff Samardzija Actual 2.83 3.07 3.20 2.1
ZiPS ROS 3.48 3.38 - 1.4
Steamer RoS 3.75 3.54 - 1.2
Jason Hammel Actual 2.98 3.12 3.26 2.0
ZiPS ROS 3.73 3.76 - 0.7
Steamer RoS 3.90 3.85 - 0.8

There’s no one there likely to improve; there’s several likely to regress. That holds true for the additions, too, but they aren’t replacing Gray or Kazmir. Now, presumably, Mills is out of the rotation, and either Milone or Chavez joins him.

Samardzija, obviously, was the key here, with Hammel a necessary part, but one that probably is more to balance out the fact that Samardzija for Russell straight-up wasn’t going to work. If a Price trade couldn’t happen —  Jeff Passan reported that they attempted to  — and Cliff Lee‘s health can’t be relied upon, Samardzija is the obvious best pitcher available. Though the projections don’t see him as likely to keep up his early performance either (and note that his new league and ballpark are not factored in), he’s clearly a suitable partner with Gray at the top of the rotation. Going into a potential playoff series, Gray / Samardzija / Kazmir / Hammel looks a lot more dangerous than Gray / Kazmir / Milone / Chavez. That was a situation that was untenable over the long term, and the A’s knew it. They’ve probably just added three wins above replacement in the second half alone, plus however you want to define the odds of a better pitching performance in the playoffs.

Don’t forget, also, that the A’s also are left with options for the future, and not just because Daniel Robertson, probably their best remaining prospect, is also a shortstop. Hammel may be a rental, but Samardzija isn’t, which means he, Gray and Kazmir could be headlining the Oakland rotation in 2015. Or, they could look at the new-found depth they have, with the injured A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker returning, and attempt to flip the final year of Samardzija’s contract to fill a hole elsewhere or re-infuse the farm system, or do the same next July. Or, move a displaced starter now to try to improve second base. If they keep Samardzija for the full term he has left, they’ve purchased approximately 60-70 starts between the two ex-Cubs, not including potential playoff appearances. That’s 60-70 starts that won’t otherwise be made by Milone or Mills or Straily. There’s real, tangible value to that.

The A’s bought high here, and you can argue they overpaid. Make no doubt about that; Hammel was a $6m flyer this past winter, and Samardzija’s career consists of four up-and-down years as a reliever, two solid ones as a starter, and finally now his first plus-level campaign. If you’d have preferred that they held out for 1.5 years of Price in any Russell deal and for the A’s to have added a lower-level secondary starter elsewhere, like bringing back Brandon McCarthy, you couldn’t be faulted for that. It could be that a realistic deal with Tampa just wasn’t available to be made. You can dislike the particulars of this trade, it’s just difficult to argue that one wasn’t necessary.

It’s pretty clear, anyway, that the A’s are sick of getting bounced out in the first round of the playoffs, and that they feel the value from a rotation improvement now is worth cashing in a top prospect. Billy Beane chose to be bold here, and for good reason from where we stand. Still, there’s plenty of risk; fairly or (mostly) not, this trade is likely going to be judged on the Oakland side over the long-term almost entirely based on whether it brings them a World Series.

* * *

Of course, this has major repercussions for the Cubs, too. If trading off 40 percent of the starting rotation sounds like a familiar habit for the Cubs — and what a weird thing to say — that’s because it is. In 2012 they traded off Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm; last year, it was Matt Garza and Scott Feldman. From those four moves alone, the Cubs have stockpiled Kyle Hendricks and Christian Villanueva (Dempster), Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino (Maholm), C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, Mike Olt and Neil Ramirez (Garza), and Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop (Feldman). Arietta has already paid off fantastically, and Grimm, Strop & Ramirez have been big parts of the bullpen. Edwards might be their best pitching prospect. Trading starters for youth has worked out for the Cubs recently.

Now, they’ve added Russell — a 2011 first-rounder who briefly made it to Triple-A as a 19-year-old late last season before missing most of 2014’s first two months with a hamstring injury — to one of the deepest prospect pools in the game. Russell and Mckinney join Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Albert Almora (all in the first 15 of MLB.com’s preseason Top 100) along with Jorge SolerArismendy Alcantara and others. It is an insanely, ludicrously enviable group of young players, and don’t forget that Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro are only 24 and playing like stars in the big leagues.

Of course, you’ll note the obvious, which is that all of the names in that last paragraph are hitters. Castro is a shortstop, Russell is a shortstop, Baez is for the moment a shortstop at Triple-A, and Alcantara has been previously, though he’s now playing second next to Baez. Bryant is a third baseman. Mckinney, Almora and Soler are all outfielders. Throw in Rizzo at first, keep Alcantara at second, look at what 2014 draftee catcher Kyle Schwarber is doing to poor A-ball pitchers, and suddenly you have yourself an entire lineup, just without the corresponding talent to pitch.

But then again, realize the baseball world we live in. Just in the past two days, both ESPN and the New York Times have run articles about the continuing decline of offense. By wOBA, this season is tied for the seventh-worst since integration, and so there’s an inefficiency to be exploited there. If offense is so difficult to find, then the team who can stockpile it puts themselves in a very, very good situation. The Cubs may have wanted to get pitching back for Samardzija and Hammel, but once they realized Russell was available it was too good of an option to pass up, and they’re clearly betting on teams with pitching to spare coming to their doorstep begging for someone who can actually hit the ball.

Maybe that will be Baez, a consensus Top-7 prospect across all the publications after a .282/.341/.578 (and 37 homers) season at 20 across two levels last year. Maybe it’s Castro, whose bounceback season suddenly makes a contract of five years and $44m (after this year), plus a $16m 2020 team option, look extremely appealing. Considering that all three of them, including Russell, could be in the bigs by this time next year, it’s a situation the Cubs don’t have terribly long to work out, making this offseason interesting.

We shouldn’t gloss over Mckinney, who is in High-A barely more than a year after graduating high school in Texas, and though he may be a bat-only left field type, he has plenty of bat to work with. We shouldn’t skimp on Straily, a soft-tossing righty with home run problems who seems questionable to be a member of the next good Cubs rotation. They’re both important pieces here, particularly Mckinney. But let’s be honest with ourselves; Russell is the get. A very good Cubs system just got remarkably better, and though watching Chris Rusin or Dallas Beeler or Hendricks join Arrieta and Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson may not be fun, 2014 was never a primary year for the Cubs anyway. From a Chicago side, it’s extremely difficult to not like this.

* * *

After all that, what are we left with? The A’s were already the best team in baseball, in a very favorable situation as far as competition and window goes, and now they’ve securely plugged a leak, making them the obvious favorites for October. The Cubs just added one of baseball’s brightest prospect talents into a system already full of hitting potential. It’s a fascinatingly fun trade all around, both for the names involved and the impact it has on the 2014 pennant race and the future fortunes of two franchises. We try to insta-judge trades being “won” or “lost,” but it’s hard to do that here. Both teams are closer to their goals than they were yesterday.

The real winner here? Well, it just might be Andrew Friedman and the Tampa Bay Rays, who just saw two of the top available pitchers get moved while only one contender benefits, leaving the Mariners, Cardinals, Dodgers, Angels, Blue Jays and everyone else to fight for Price. They might not get a prospect the caliber of Russell — there simply aren’t many in existence — but as that feeding frenzy gets going, the haul ought to be impressive. If this deal is any indication, July is going to be a blast.




Print This Post



Mike Petriello lives in New York and writes about the Dodgers daily at Dodgers Digest, as well as contributing to ESPN Insider. He wrote two chapters in the 2014 Hardball Times Annual as well as building The Hardball Times and TechGraphs, and was an editorial producer at Sports on Earth. Find him at @mike_petriello.


340 Responses to “The A’s and Cubs Blockbuster Trade”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Dave says:

    I’d rather see the Jays target Hamels than Price personally.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Rubén Amaro Jr. says:

      Why would I trade Hamels? He’s going to be a key piece of the 2015 world champion Philadelphia Phillies!

      +34 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bob says:

      Good luck with that, even if the Phillies try and go full rebuild it would take an absolutely lopsided deal for Hamels.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • evo34 says:

        Why? The guy’s getting paid $22.5M/yr for the next 4.5 years. If they deal Hamels, they can use that money to sign a similar free agent or trade for one when they need to.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Bob says:

          What free agent? Ace level pitchers almost never hit the market and the Phillies have said time and time again that Hamels isn’t available, plus the Jays are on his no-trade list and he personally has said he has no desire to go up there. A 30 year old ace is more valuable to at least put some people in the seats than make any deal in this market with teams way overvaluing prospects.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • novaether says:

          Money isn’t the issue with the Phillies. They just don’t know how to spend it.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. hernandez17 says:

    Great analysis and great read.

    I think this part might have undersold Shark a bit: “Samardzija’s career consists of four up-and-down years as a reliever, two solid ones as a starter, and finally now his first plus-level campaign.”

    On the plus side, he’s in his prime, has very low mileage on his arm, has had four years of increasing GB%, and has had a 3.00ish FIP throughout this year. I feel like he’s a huge asset for OAK to either re-sign or trade.

    I also wonder if it’ll be easier said than done to flip some of that hitting talent for pitching. Their organization pitching talent is really thin, and that stockpile of hitters you mentioned doesn’t even include Kyle Schwarber. Can’t fault them for adding an elite prospect, but the outlook for their pitching 2015-2020 isn’t great, and it’s worse than it would’ve been had they re-upped Shark.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tz says:

      Another plus is that he would definitely be worth making the QO after the 2015 season. So at worst, they’ll get a high draft pick if they can’t re-sign him.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Petriello says:

      Good point, I forgot to include Schwarber since he’s so new. I’ve edited to add him.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • buddyglass says:

      Plus he’s a great ringer for those off-season flag football games.

      +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Chicago Mark says:

      While I agree with your assessment Her17. Keep three things in mind. The Cubs will sign a huge tv deal this off season. Their current payroll is 89mm. I’d guess they’ll end up at 189mm some time in the near future. 100 million will buy lots of pitching. And if you think it’ll be 169mm, then 80 million still buys a lot. This teams arrow is pointing straight up.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Rubén Amaro, Jr. says:

      What the hell is this ‘FIP’ thing you speak of?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • HydrogenH1 says:

        Falling Into Place. One of those new-fangled terms they like to throw around around here.

        +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ruben Amaro Jr.says says:

          ‘FIP’ is sweet dude. That Falling into place thing happened to me when I got this job. A Year later the ‘FOP’ (Falling out of place) started. Utley’s knee, Halladay’s shoulder, Lee’s elbow, Howard’s power and left Achilles, Rollins OBP. It was like 2009 yesterday and now it’s the future or something.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Quetzalcuddyer says:

      Plus what looks like a top 3 draft pick next year.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Lazer_Town says:

      I think at the same time though they could spend some in free agency to fill that need. If they can stockpile enough hitters even if their pitching isn’t great they should be at least contenders which will pull fans in. The more good hitters you have, the more they compound and get each other more plate appearances. Sign 1-2 guys to pair with Arrieta and that rotation may not be shutdown, but it will win games with their lineup.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Amish_Willy says:

      I keep having these flashbacks to the off-season when a Cubs fan would make a proposal for Shark and Dave Cameron would say things like, “he’s not that good” or better yet, “he’s not worth 2 top-100 prospects”.

      I’m sure there are a few Cub fans out there that remember what I’m talking about. Of course he has 25% left control now then at the time of those proposals.

      I was hoping he was going to write this piece.

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Sinnycal says:

      I’m not worried about their pitching outlook at all. A minor league system thin on pitching is just that: a minor league system thin on pitching. To which I shrug. Positional prospects are more valuable. They’re safer. They represent assets that become more difficult to acquire at the major league level. A bat-heavy farm is likely to produce more impact major league talent than an arm-heavy one or even a balanced one, and the more players your farm produces, the fewer holes you have to fill externally.

      They’ve already quietly assembled a remarkably good little bullpen with Rondon, Ramirez, Strop, and Grimm, plus Arodys Vizcaino waiting in the wings. If they add to that a lineup full of good, cheap homegrown talent, all that remains is the rotation. Arrieta is finally turning into the guy Orioles fans used to dream about. Wood is entrenched as a solid option for the back end. Hendricks is having the type of success in AAA that should translate to being at least a productive ML starter (he’s never been a “sexy” prospect, but seriously, go look at his numbers this year and tell me he’s not going to be a legitimate option for their rotation). So they don’t have a true-blue ace type pitching prospect. Lucky for them, growing their own lineup and bullpen and a few starters should leave them with enough payroll space to buy a small country. They have roughly $45 million committed to the 2015 payroll after arbitration estimates with a current payroll ceiling around $115 million, not including whatever increased revenue they get from the broadcast deal for the expiring WGN slate of games. Acquiring a pitcher or two should be doable, I’d think.

      And it happens that they’ve been pretty good at cobbling together rotations even during these throw-away seasons. They barely had an offseason this year and still assembled a pitching staff near the top of the majors in WAR. I believe their entire pitching staff ranked 4th and their rotation alone ranked 2nd in the majors at the time of this trade. Every season they’ve had success identifying undervalued starters and getting the most out of them. Signing Maholm, Feldman, and Hammel for pennies on the dollar. Trading for Wood and Arrieta. It’s very possible that they’re good at this.

      Bottom line: if the system they have works out the way they hope, I have zero doubts about their ability to support it with a serviceable or better rotation. And hey, I hear Theo knows a guy who knows a guy who knows Jon Lester.

      +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. tz says:

    Excellent summary. A win-win based on situation, and a boost for Price’s price.

    Now wondering whether the A’s have enough left to grab Zobrist. Pomeranz, Blanks, and a low-minor arm gets it done? Should be an interesting trade season.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      I see no way possible that Zobrist is traded for those people. Pomeranz, Robertson and Nunez? Substitute Olson for one of them? Even that might not be enough.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tim A says:

        really? thats not enough for a Super U with a mediocre batting line that is still owed 22M in the next two years. I feel like Zobrist is valued at what he was, and what he is currently is about worth what he’s owed if that. Not the best trade chip, and worth more as one of the Rays few semi-stars over the past half decade, then he is to any evaluating team. The Rays fans and front office will want a top package to deal one of there “top players”, but he just isn’t a league wide top player any more, he’s a scoch above replacement at this point with versatility as his main strength.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • dustin says:

          > he’s a scoch above replacement at this point with versatility as his main strength

          Uhm, he’s a 2.5 win player so far, half-way through the season. That’s all-star-level production.

          +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          Well you’re entitled to your own opinion, no matter how….unorthodox. ZiPS has him as a 4.4 WAR player in 2014 and Steamer 4.1.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Lazer_Town says:

          Basically same WRC+ as Peralta or Utley. He isn’t a normal utility player. If you stick him as your everyday 2B he is a solid 4.5-5 war player.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. LHPSU says:

    It’s true that the Athletics have madea move to go deep into the playoffs, but now that black hole at 2B is even further from getting fixed, and Jed Lowrie hasn’t been great either. Daniel Robertson is nice for the future but not close to contributing this season.

    You wonder, given the package that the A’s gave up, if they could have at least gotten Bonafacio as a throw-in. It’s not like he has all that much value and considering the Cubs’ situation I doubt they would have been all that stubborn in standing their ground if Beane asked for Bonafacio as well. He’s nothing special but he’s at least better than whatever they are putting out there at 2B. Cubs can then give Darwin Barney more playing time and see if he could build up some trade value.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Madea says:

      Made me MOVE??!??

      Now you’re gonna REALLY see a mad black woman!

      +35 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • hernandez17 says:

      Yeah I had seen speculation that they were going to get Luis Valbuena, which clearly didn’t happen. They improved their rotation but that middle infield is going to continue to be awful unless they fix it via trade. Going into the season I thought that their MI would be Lowrie at 2B and Russell at SS by mid-July.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ivan Grushenko says:

        Me too, and then Russell got hurt and I changed the timetable to mid August. Parker and Griffin’s injuries ruined that plan.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. jdbolick says:

    It is a pretty fascinating trade, not only because of the high profile players involved but the real potential for both sides to be satisfied. Russell is clearly one of the top prospects in the game, even if I view him as a tier down from Correa. That said, he is a true shortstop and therefore the acquisition says interesting things about Castro and his future.

    Samardzija is more or less a known quantity aside from the variation in his home run rate, while Hammel is an interesting case. I assume there is some correlation between his spiking strikeout rate and increasing his slider percentage by more than ten points over his previous career high (currently 32.6%). Whether or not his career best walk rate can be sustained is much more questionable, as he hasn’t seen a significant change in his strike or first strike rate, just the contact rate.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Bat says:

    I am so, so disappointed that the Mets couldn’t trade Colon + Gee for Russell, Mckinney, Straily, and the PTBNL, whoever that is.

    Crushed.

    I think this is an outstanding deal for a rebuilding team…I thought it was good for the Cubs when I initially heard it was Shark + Hammel for Russell, but also Mckinney?

    The Cubs reduce payroll for the remainder of 2014 and 2015 when Shark is under contract or team control, presumably allowing for an acquisition in the offseason, and get two top young talents. Russell is the gem, of course (as of right now anyway), but they hedge their bets on Russell by acquiring Mckinney who is ranked by most publications as the A’s #2 prospect so if Russell fails they have a fallback.

    They weren’t going anywhere this year so this is an outstanding trade for the Cubs. Good trade for the A’s I think because they are going for it and needed pitching, but great, great trade for the Cubs.

    I would be thrilled with this deal if I was a Cubs fan.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Grant says:

      You think Colon and Gee are on the same Level as the Cubs pieces?!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Yilan Dai says:

      Mets would probably need to add Synddergard and Wheeler to the equation for the trade to happen.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Typical WFAN Caller says:

      Hey Mad Dog, we should give the Cards Niese, Duda, Dice-K, and Lannan for Taveras and Martinez. Or maybe they’ll add Wacha if we include Granderson…in fact we should do that deal, even if they make us throw in Tejada….

      +25 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dirck says:

      If I was running the Cubs ,with Russel coming up soon ,I would be looking to trade Castro for pitching . Castro and McKinney or Almora to the Mets for Wheeler and Syndergaard seems to make sense for both teams .The Cubs could fill their black hole at 2B almost immediately with Alcantara .Next year their line-up could be Rizzo at 1B ,Alcantara at 2B,Russell at SS ,Baez at 3B,Bryant in RF ,Almora in CF (if they deal McKinney )Lake in LF with a pitching staff of Arrieta,Wood,Jackson,Wheeler,and Syndergaard . The Mets meanwhile get a legitimate 24 year old major league shortstop who is under contract at a reasonable number and an outfielder who can play .

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tim Haworth says:

        I disagree. Castro is a proven commodity in the major leagues. You can’t trade that for an unknown prospect, no matter how good they project to be. Castro is having an all star season. Keep him in the Cubs system

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • evo34 says:

          A guy who is less than a year removed from a .631 OPS and plays mediocre (at best) defense is a “proven commodity”? Hardly.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • ezb230 says:

          @evo34 – Well not if we focus on his one bad year and ignore the 3+ good ones. Castro was worth 2 games in 3/4 of a season in 2010, 3 each in ’11 and ’12, and has already been worth 2 this year. He’s not elite or anything but calling him proven is fair.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Sam says:

          Yeah, he’s proven all right, but what he’s proven so far isn’t all that great. He’s no better now than he was as a rookie, not to mention his sulky 2013.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Noah Baron says:

        Don’t think the Mets would do that trade. There are so many shortstops available this upcoming offseason and via trade that it would be silly to throw away two elite pitchers for Castro, who has no plate discipline and plays mediocre defense. Syndergaard and Wheeler’s value are both at lows right now, even though their peripherals have been fine. They definitely wouldn’t want to sell low on those two pieces.

        Obviously that trade works perfectly for the Cubs. The Mets, on the other hand, could simply wait until the offseason and sign a guy like JJ Hardy or Stephen Drew to provide similar value to Castro, keep all of their pitching, and only forfeit a second-round draft pick.

        If the Mets do eventually trade away their pitching, it would have to be for an impact bat like Bryant, Stanton, or Tulo.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • David Ross says:

          Stephen Drew blows. If Harvey comes back the same pitcher then maybe they can trade him for a high level player, the other pitchers they have would never land them Bryant or Stanton. They wouldn’t take Tulowitzski even if he was given to them for free, they cant afford his contract.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Johnston says:

      Cubs fans should be dancing in the street over this trade. As an A’s fan…well, thank God I have a lot of beer left over from the 4th of July party.

      And was REALLY bad news to wake up to with a hangover. “Billy traded our best prospects for a bag of magic beans? &$@+*^%#}{][!!!”

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • David says:

        It must be awful to be an Oakland fan and have to deal with the best GM in baseball. As a Yankees fan I really feel bad for you. You will likely never feel the thrill of signing 34 year old catchers and outfielders with no knees to long term contracts so as to revitalize your team.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Rubén Amaro, Jr. says:

    Terrible trade for Oakland.

    Jeff Samardzija has only won 2 games this season and lost 7.

    +93 Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Bat says:

    Additional thought: Can someone working in the Cubs front office leak the team’s version of “Ground Control” (the code name for the Astros online database) so that I can experience more pain by knowing – for a fact – that the Cubs offered such a deal to the Mets and the Mets braintrust rejected this?

    Ground Control to Major Tom…
    ..Here am I floating round my tin can
    Far above the moon
    Planet Earth is blue
    And there’s nothing I can do (about the Mets).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jdbolick says:

      Why stress yourself out over something that never happened?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tz says:

        He’s going batty. Either that or hasn’t finished his first morning coffee.

        And a gentle reminder to Bat: you only get to make a Beltran-for-Wheeler type steal about once a generation. So look at your beverage cup, see that it’s half full and not half empty, and drink up!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Noah Baron says:

          tz: They pulled off another steal again last year in the Byrd trade! Dilson Herrera is tearing up AA as the youngest player in the league, and Vic Black is improving slowly but surely.

          Oh yeah, and I almost forgot about the Dickey trade! d’Arnaud is improving with the bat and is quietly one of the best pitch framers in baseball Syndergaard, despite his so-called struggles, actually has excellent peripherals in a league and ballpark that is terrible for pitchers.

          Hey, even the Ike Davis trade is working out! Even if the guys they got back for him do nothing, Duda has been better than Ike anyway.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Johnston says:

      The Mets could have used a gift like this trade. I suspect that this trade is eventually going to make the Bagwell trade look good.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Grant says:

    You think Colon and Gee are on the same Level as Samardzija and Hammel?!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Shut up, bat sixth and get your arse in left says:

      Anytime you pair “Buffalo Bartolo” Colon with another pitcher you definitely have tipped the scale in your favor. I don’t care if it’s Walter Johnson and Cy Young the scale doesn’t lie…. Bartolo and Niese bruh!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. lesmash says:

    Great article, Mike; thanks for the thoughtful analysis.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. fjtorres says:

    Let’s see now, who could use a good offensive ss and might have good young pitching…
    Dodgers, Seattle…?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. tz says:

    I agree with Mike that Cubs and the stockpiling of offensive talent. It’s much harder to “make” an above-average position player than it is to make a plus pitcher, so getting blue-chip talents is smart for the Cubs.

    And buying low on young pitchers who’ve lost their shine, like Arrieta, is a wise strategy to complement the offense. Straily could very well fill Hammel’s role in the rotation going forward.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • T.B. says:

      Straily will have to get that 2mph he lost on his fastball back to be useful.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • fjtorres says:

      There is also the point that the Cubs aren’t poor.
      If they had to pay market price for the Shark, they can pay market price for Scherzer, Price, or even Samardzija. By the time their window opens fully in 2016 they’ll know if Arrieta is for real, and what they have in Edwards and Straily.
      One other reason to stockpile hitting prospects is the chance to overpay for Stanton, if and when.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tz says:

        If the Cubs can buy up those apartments across from Wrigley, Stanton’s contract would pay for itself with the extra $ the Cubs could charge for the rooftop seats.

        +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. T.B. says:

    The problem with this trade is that it is to big of a risk for the A’s to part with a prospect with the upside of Russell who also plays SS. It could easily backfire on Beane and the A’s. To make this trade they need to get a player for atleast 3 years of control. Also Samardzija has never been very consistent. Also Hammel has never pitched at the level of the first three months ever in 8 years.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • YABooble says:

      But Beane has always had to deal with losing in the playoffs, back when they were good before. You need a third top starter, and after Kazmir and Gray their other starters are OK at best. Samardzija gives them that.

      And when a team like the A’s has their window they have to go for it. As Mike points out, the core of this team will get too expensive real soon, even if you allow for Jim Johnson’s salary going off the books.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Richie says:

      Well, I guess there are at least 2 of us. The playoffs are supposedly a crap shoot, and the A’s were already all but assured of getting there. So a small-market team with an awful stadium situation guts its minor league system so as to improve its odds in what is intrinsically a random event? Just awful. Awful, awful awful.

      A cheap Colon would’ve been so much better. Or whatever of however many rentals which will be coming onto the market as July goes along. The A’s are SO! going to miss Addison Russell from 2015 on.

      Frustration moves (Beane sick of losing in the playoffs) are typically awful ones. Epstein just robbed Billy blind.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Joey Chestnut says:

        A cheap colon is an awful idea. Think of all the work it has to do.

        +30 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Psy Jung says:

        Not intrinsically random at all – just subject to noise. Getting a #1 or #2 pitcher (whatever Samardzija is) increases your chances of winning a series considerably.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Richie says:

          No it doesn’t, and you can look that up. But then if you haven’t yet, no reason you’d want to start, I suppose.

          -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          Wow really, Richie? The “look it up” excuse without providing a link while also insulting someone’s sincerity and motivation regarding the pursuit of the truth….

          And remember this is 2 pitchers for nearly half the season and the playoffs….

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Richie says:

          OK fine, go to Baseball Prospectus. Also the tangotiger web site, here for that matter if you want to wade into the archives. Or just count up all the World Series championships Pedro, Unit, Rocket and Maddux accumulated (1 each for each).

          If you believe starting pitching correlates particularly strongly with playoff success, you flat out haven’t checked any of the data anywhere.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Richie says:

          Tho’ you’re essentially right in the moral sense. I could leave the snark out. I’ll work on that more.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          Most people know the sites were information is available, they are on one after all. The trouble is often in actually finding them.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dirck says:

        I hate the A’s side of the deal. A small budget team just gave up a potentially top tier shortstop on the verge of the majors with years of cheap control for a half year of one mediocre pitcher plus a year and a half of a good ,but not great pitcher who they won’t be able to afford after that. They will really need to win it all either this year or next because it looks bad for them after next year .

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Richie says:

          Yeah, what I said. Just much better and more concise.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Johnston says:

          @Dirck: Exactly. This is a desperation, win-now move and those moves are always stupid.

          We’ll, we have finally found out who’s a smarter GM than Billy Beane: Theo Epstein, who thinks long-term and who just ate Billy’s lunch AND his dinner. When the A’s prospects bloom for the Cubs and the 2014 season is a faint memory, remember this trade and swear. Unless you’re a Cubs fan, of course. Then you can dance.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • cs3 says:

          You guys are joking right?
          If the Cubs win a WS in the next 5-6 years and the A’s dont, then maybe your perspective will turn out to be true.
          But as it stands now, this a move that greatly increases the A’s chance at a title RIGHT NOW. Who knows what will happen with Russel over the next 6 seasons?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • dominik says:

          I don’t agree this is a bad move by the As. yes the POs are somewhat random but still most of the time one of the best Teams is going to win. the yanks won like 5 in a row 10 years ago and other Teams had relatively consistent success in the postseason too.

          Yes it does cost them their best prospect but a small market Team is not going to contend endlessly anyway.

          you have to grab the window when it is open and now with a lot of Players peaking at the same time 2014 and 2015 (probably even moreso because the 2 injured pitchers will come back) is probably their best Chance.

          at some Point they will have to rebuild anyway and suck for a couple years to re-stock their farm System.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • wallysb01 says:

        I think you’re ignoring the hedge against the downside of a simultaneous implosion some combination of Kazmir/Milone/Chavez. The Angels are a very good team, if they pick up some good pitching (like the guys the A’s just got and/or Price), while the A’s starters faltered, their is a very real chance the A’s find themselves in that one game playoff. The likely hood of now avoiding the “intrinsically random event” of that one game playoff is a huge part of the prize in this deal. Remember, the A’s currently might be 97.8% to reach the playoffs, but “only” 70.7% of that is going strata into the DS. Also part of the value of this deal will be adding to the likely hood of having home field advantage at least until the WS.

        Also, to brush the playoffs off as random event is a bit too simplistic. If the A’s not only remove much of the possibility of playing in the worst of the random events (the 1 game playoff), add to the possibility of home field advantage, AND give yourself 2 starters worth about 1 WAR better than their replacements each to pitch in those playoff games, that all adds up to a very substantial WS-title chance improvement in my mind. I’ll let others work through the math, and once Fangraphs takes into account the new rosters, we’ll see it show up in the projections.

        Also, Russell might be a great talent, but who cares if he comes up at a time when the A’s are going to have a hard time putting enough talent around him to matter? To stay competitive in 2016 and beyond, the A’s are going to have a lot of work to do. Even assuming Beane is pretty good at patching holes left by stars leaving, he will have a TON of holes to fill. I have confidence he can scrape together good teams, but one that can compete against the money in Anehiam and the talent+ money in Texas? Beane has the best team in baseball right now and A’s fan, like myself, see this season and next as WS-or-bust. We’ve seen a lot of very good teams come and go over that last 15 years and we’ve had just one 4-game sweep in the ALCS to watch. Its time to go all in, even if it only moves WS title chances a few percent.

        I’d now like to see a couple SPs and any minor league peaces needed to bring in a 2B option that will stay through 2015. I’m looking at Zorbist in particular, who has team options through 2015. The fact that the Rays wouldn’t take Russell for Price has me thinking that might not be possible, but someone similar should be targeted.

        +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          The problem is that they presumably could have gotten Hammel without giving up Russell, and I’m supposing that whoever gets Brandon McCarthy won’t have to give up a Top 20 prospect. If Chavez and Gray implode, they could have gotten a couple of cromulent replacements without giving up Russell. If they were going to try to get an ace playoff pitcher for Russell, which is a dubious goal, they didn’t get one.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          Russell wasn’t getting Price either… So what is this ace that the A’s could have got that Samardzija isn’t?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Johnston says:

        @Richie:

        “So a small-market team with an awful stadium situation guts its minor league system so as to improve its odds in what is intrinsically a random event? Just awful. Awful, awful awful.”

        Exactly. Wonderful analysis. I wish that I had written that.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          The playoffs are largely random, but getting their in a favorable position is not.

          Look at the tigers vs the A’s in the WS title chances. Do you know why the tigers have almost an extra 4% chance at the WS? Because they don’t have that 27% chance of playing in the one-game playoff. Avoiding that game is a big part of this trade.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          OK but after the trade the A’s still aren’t a lock to win the division. What does it buy them? 21% instead of 27%?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          I don’t know exactly, but when the fangraphs projection take into account the new roster’s we’ll know. I suspect it would be more than that though. The A’s were already projected to be 4.5 games over the Angels. If its more like 6.5-7.5 after this trade, it maybe more like 10-15%. Just as a measuring stick, the M’s are expected to be 9 games back of the A’s and they have a 5% shot, granted with two teams to pass, so the difference from 4.5 to maybe 7 up could be quite a lot.

          And Samardzija is here next year too.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          OK if it’s 10% instead of 27% that increases their Division Series chances by 8.5%, ALCS chances by 4.25% and World Series chances by 2.625% plus however much Samardzija and Hammel improve the team over Milone and Mills/Pomeranz. So instead of a 4% difference it might be a 0% or 1% difference vs the Tigers. I don’t know if that’s worth or not worth trading Russell but it’s the right way to look at the benefit. The way to look at the cost is more murky.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          Which all sounds pretty significant when you add up the fact that each extra step in the playoffs is worth something. Its truly all or nothing, with the 12% vs maybe 14% WS title chance.

          This move also give Beane the freedom to move one or more of the pitchers that are now expendable as part of a deal for second baseman.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • hk says:

        The playoffs aren’t the crap shoot that they used to be. The difference between winning the division and being the Wild Card is huge. Win the division and you’re in the crap shoot. Win one of the Wild Card spots and you may have to beat Felix Hernandez and the Mariners just to get into the crap shoot.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      Ya I never thought Russell would be traded. I just don’t think that they believed that Gray, Kazmir, or Chavez would hold up or that Milone and Mills were more than future pumpkins.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. CJ says:

    I’m scared of the Cubs come 2016-2017.

    C- Schwarber
    1B – Rizzo
    2B – Castro/Alcantara
    SS- Russell
    3B – Baez
    LF – Bryant
    CF – Almora
    RF – Soler

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Bat says:

    Grant / Chicago Mark –

    Actually I wasn’t saying that tongue-in-cheek and was thinking a Colon/Gee package is comparable to Shark/Hammel. But I see now after reading your comments and checking the stats that the package I proposed isn’t equal to what the A’s got from the Cubs.

    In the words of Denny Green, Shark is who I thought he was: 8.2 career fWAR and 2.1 fWAR in 2014. And Colon is who I thought he was 1.1 fWAR this career (no need really to get into his career stats – I think we know what he has done) and, not insignificant in this context, 3.9 fWAR in 2013 pitching in the AL, for the A’s.

    But Hammel is better than I thought at 2.1 fWAR this year and much, much better than I thought at 14.7 fWAR for his career and Gee isn’t anywhere near as good as I thought: 0.1 fWAR this year and 2.9 fWAR for his career.

    To be honest, I would have thought Hammel and Gee’s career numbers were reversed if I’d have been given a blind test.

    So thanks for pointing out that what I proposed from the Mets side isn’t nearly adequate enough; a comparable package would have been Colon plus Jon Niese and I think Niese is probably too much for the Mets to give up as although I think he is dealing with an injury this year that he is hiding (reduced velocity and other concerning signs), he is signed to a team-friendly contract and the only lefty in the Mets rotation so maybe I wouldn’t do that deal if I were the Mets.

    But then again I might…great return for the Cubbies.

    Thanks for your insight – much appreciated.

    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tz says:

      Colon/Gee might have worked for the A’s package minus Russell, which still would have worked out for the Mets.

      It definitely looks like a sellers market, and the A’s knew they had to pay a bit of a premium. Plus, it can’t hurt them to make Samardzija doesn’t go to Anaheim or Seattle, as Mike pointed out.

      Bottom line is, Cubs had a super-valuable chip, and the A’s struck early to make sure it ended up in their hands.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Baseball Reference says:

      Thanks for letting us know who’s WAR you’re using.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. David Wiers says:

    Flags fly forever. Mortgaging the future is always a tough choice, but I like this move much more than the half-attempted, kinda-go-for-it Matt Holliday trade.

    Go Oakland!

    Love,

    A less than objective person right now

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Johnston says:

    I never thought I’d see Oakland make a trade like this.

    IMO it’s a total disaster. It flies in the face of everything intelligent and long term.

    Two years of pitching for your two best prospects? What the Hell?

    I have always thought that Billy Beane was brilliant. Today he looks to me like Reuben Amaro.

    -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave says:

      It makes total sense for Oakland, they’ve come up short so many times under Billy Beane that with the way the teams setup now, now is probably the best chance they have to make a big push and get a WS title.

      All that is left for Oakland is to hope they dont have to face Verlander in a decider again ;p

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Richie says:

      Exactly. The difference between, say, Colon and Sammy in any 1 single playoff game is so small. And for that you trade what is for any small-market team its only life blood? Its star (and cheap) young prospects?

      Is Billy getting ready to retire or move on, so doesn’t care about leaving a long term mess behind him? Or does he just think with his genius he’ll always outsmart all the other teams? Who are all getting far smarter themselves.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Josh says:

      I kind of agree with you. I’m not sure it’s a total disaster, but I feel that the A’s name is making people support this deal for the A’s more than they would for any other team. The A’s traded a 20 year-old top-10 prospect at SS. It seems to me that these are the guys that are really too valuable to trade even when in a win-now mode. I fully understand why the A’s made this trade, but Addison Russell plus one of Oakland’s top prospects PLUS another pitcher is a very steep price to pay.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Compton says:

      It’s all about your position on the win curve. The A’s would not have pounced like this in 2012 or even 2013.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • M says:

      Johnston,

      It makes sense if you consider Beane has a two-year window to win it all. Many of the A’s current stars will be FAs after that, and Beane won’t pay market price for them then. He’ll go back to “Money Ball” as we knew it.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Johnston says:

        Good luck to him when he is trying to do that without the two outstanding prospects he just threw away for only two years of meh pitching.

        We’ll, I always thought Billy Beane was smart. I no longer hold that position. This is a really dumb short-term fix move, trading years and years of cost-controlled high-quality prospects for two years’ worth total of a couple of pitchers who just aren’t all that.

        If only Billy had got more years of better quality pitching! What was he thinking? This kind of trade is what bad GM’s do.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Jim says:

          Then toss out some names. It’s not enough to say Beane should’ve traded for younger talent — who? Should the A’s be trading for next year, or five years out, or should they be trading for the season they’re dominating today?

          In 2016, when so many of the names on the A’s field have gone FA, having one good young SS isn’t going to be enough. Beane traded one player for October knowing he’s going to have to start building a team for 2016 in November. Relax. It’s not the apocalypse.

          +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          Meh pitching…. Not sure I can take you seriously after that.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Johnston says:

          @Wally:

          Are either of these two aces? Heck, no. Shark is a # 3 at best. Meh.

          For what Oakland gave up, they should’ve gotten an ace.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          What ace were they going to get? They got 2 #2-3 guys, that’s pretty damn good.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • lowcountryjoe says:

      Losing Russell is the pain-point that makes this a “total disaster” for you, correct? Have you considered what the availability of quality SSs with major league experience will look like between one and three years from now?

      If you haven’t, then I bet Beane has and it went into his calculation. Currently on the MLB website their are six SS prospects in the top 30. Not all of those six will stick at SS [heck, the scouts were worried that Russell was one of them] and some will not pan out. On the International Prospects side of the MLB website, 14 of the top 30 listed prospects are SSs. Of course not all of them are going to stick or pan, either.

      However, some of those 20 are going to stick at SS and pan out and they will displace some quality SSs who will become a relatively expensive option for their current teams to keep. Moneyball was never about being cheap. Moneyball was always about doing the economical thing — many times it turned out to be contrarian but always economical [there are always trade offs]. It may cost Oakland to go get a SS next year or the year after. But a quality one WILL be available. And the relative cost of acquiring said SS will be less because of the supply available.

      Beane hasn’t lost anything insomuch as you probably haven’t fully considered all the information. Re-evaluate with after you’ve viewed this through a proper lens [a lens that also includes this year’s post season plans], please.

      +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dirck says:

        There are several shortstops who could be the equal of Russel coming up ,but there are about 30 pitching prospects coming up who could be the equal of Samarzjqpklmf.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Johnston says:

          Exactly. Throw away a prize SS prospect for Samardjeyetest? What the Hell?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • lowcountryjoe says:

          If your point is that those SP prospects are ready to step into a MLB rotation right now and solidify it for a postseason run, I just don’t see it. If it is just a point that Samardzija and Hammel were not necessary additions for the cost, then I’m a little more receptive but think that the benefits for this season are worth it.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Richie says:

        This is startling. Quality starting SSs are cheap?!? You mean like Stephen Drew? Can you name 1 established quality SS who came cheap? Just 1?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Johnston says:

          Quality starting SS are gold.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          Not sure what you mean by “quality” but let’s say you mean a 3 WAR player.

          JJ Hardy was acquired for Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey
          Asdrubal Cabrera was acquired for Eduardo Perez
          Hanley Ramirez was acquired for Nathan Eovaldi and cash
          Yunel Escobar was acquired for Derek Dietrich
          Jed Lowrie was acquired for Mark Melancon

          Do any of these qualify?

          +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • lowcountryjoe says:

          If you can pinpoint the exact sentence where I wrote that quality starting SSs can be currently acquired on the cheap, I will gladly answer your question(s)

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      It is interesting that Beane isn’t getting skewered like Moore did after trading Myers. I think that’s only partly because the Royals aren’t a sure fire playoff team with Shields. Conversely the A’s were pretty much a sure fire playoff team without Samardzija and Hammel.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Alex says:

        To be fair, Moore traded 2 top 100 prospects (and Montgomery) for Shields and the busted lottery ticket of Wade Davis as a starter.

        Beane traded 1 top 100 prospect, a 19 YO in High A and Straily for 2 solid SPs.

        In terms of value, Beane got more for less.

        +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Johnston says:

          And yet still far from enough.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • cs3 says:

          @Johnston

          If “still far from enough” has been the actual going rate for the past few seasons, then perhaps it really is “enough” and your perception is what is off base?

          +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Martin says:

        They’re also at different points on the win curve.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • emdash says:

      It’s possible Beane knows more about Russell’s heath than we do and doesn’t think he’ll be able to stay healthy. It’s not unheard of.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • atoms says:

      That’s just a dumb statement. The difference between Beane and Amaro is that Beane actually knows when he has a team that can win it all. If ever there were a time to go all in, it’s now. After all, the point of being the general manager of a baseball team is to win the World Series. There’s no General Manager Hall of Fame for having the highest trade value win percentage. The point is to win a championship.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • rrr says:

      Obviously this post of yours was made before Samardzija just mowed down Toronto in a sterling pitching performance. He’s the ace the Oakland staff has absolutely needed this year, the anchor, the nail-down guy.

      Sucks to lose Russell, but no guts no glory. At some point (sooner than later, with Donaldson and Moss eventually about to land big bucks elsewhere), you’ve got translate these excellent prospects and astute personnel management to some serious noise come playoffs (and WS).

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Drew says:

    All of your superlatives about Oakland are offensive to the Tigers who have beaten them the last two years in the playoffs and just swept them literally this week.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      I agree with this. This trade maybe gets the A’s to the level of the Tigers, but not ahead of them. All the numbers the author cited are just 2014 numbers. Looking at projected WAR in the “Standings” section has the Tigers still co-favorites with Oakland, although not clear favorites like they were before.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jim says:

        This trade maybe gets the A’s to the level of the Tigers, but not ahead of them.

        Hence the David Price connection. My gut feel is that the recent disastrous series against Detroit lit a match under Oakland’s management to get the holes plugged. Beane says they’ve been shopping for SP for weeks, but watching the Tigers deconstruct the A’s pitching made it clear that making it past the first round in the playoffs was going to require more than Milone and Chavez.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          Right. Price would have been a lot more defensible than Samardzija here.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Johnston says:

          @Ivan: I totally agree.

          If the A’s had got Price instead of Shark I would not be wanting so badly to throw things right now.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • JamesDaBear says:

          I’m not assuming the A’s could afford Price for the rest of this season, and they definitely would have had to trade Price before next season, which would have brought down his return. There’s a chance they could afford Samardzija next season and not feel the desperation to trade him and that makes a huge difference to the value of this trade.

          When you take out Price as an option, the price for Samardzija becomes much more palatable.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Daniel says:

    I don’t get that the Cubs are going to suddenly start chasing big name pitchers at some stage. They’ve proven pretty good at picking up mid tier guys on the free agent market. They clearly love assembling position player prospects and it could well be that they need each and every one of them to make a good team in Chicago. Someone won’t work out (hello Baez). They never made a decent effort to keep Samardzija at the price he wanted to be kept for (for which I commend them) so I just can’t imagine they are ever going to hand over a $100+ contract to any pitcher. The one pitching contract they gave out, to Jackson, is not looking good at all. Then someone like Arrieta shows up… I mean, who needs the stress with these pitchers? Get the hitters to town and let them hit and let the other guys score more runs if their arm-hanging-off-superstar-pitchers are so great.

    +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tz says:

      Very good points.

      And as for the buckets of cash, if these hitting prospects pan out the Cubs will need that cash to lock them up. Contracts like the Castro and Rizzo deals do add up, even for teams with deeper pockets. Same goes for arbitration raises.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JamesDaBear says:

        @tz

        Those contracts are bargains. It saves the Cubs money, especially in the next couple years. The Cubs don’t have arbitration-eligible players worth discussing. If the Cubs aren’t giving contracts to pitchers it’s because of a strategy not because they don’t have the resources.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jwinner says:

      They attempted to throw large some of cash this last off season for Tanaka… They are willing. For the right players.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. ralph says:

    Hammel is looking especially smart for signing with the Cubs instead of a contender. Now he can’t be made a qualifying offer. It’s not like it would have been a sure thing, but if he still looks this good at the end of season, that would’ve been an interesting decision.

    +20 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tz says:

      Wonder if Ervin Santana wishes he signed with, say, San Diego.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bip says:

      People liked the Hammel signing from the Cubs’ perspective, but I don’t know if anyone considered how it also made sense from Hammel’s perspective. If his idea was to take a 1-year buffer contract to increase his value, it certainly looks like it’s going to work. He may now be the best available free agent SP that doesn’t have a compensation pick this winter.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Tom says:

    “Maybe that will be Baez, a consensus Top-7 prospect across all the publications after a .282/.341/.578 (and 37 homers) season at 20 across two levels last year.

    Why would you use his 2013 to describe Baez instead of his 2014 wherein he can barley crack a .300 OBP and is striking out every third at bat?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Daniel says:

      He’s the youngest player in Triple A. 2013 isn’t too long ago. He’s hardly a bust. Those stats are only worth mentioning if you have something to contribute regarding how he looks this year from.a scputing perspective.

      But, yeah, maybe he never makes it.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • James says:

      Baez has improved with each month he’s spent in AAA. Even if he spends the rest of this year and ALL of 2015 in AAA, which isn’t likely, he could still debut as a 23 year old in 2016.

      Dude is young.

      +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • LG says:

      Because this is Fangraphs, where readers (presumably) don’t need to be spoonfed things like that?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. everdiso says:

    Ignoring the fips for a second….

    Shark: 4.02era as SP career, 4.34 last year, 2.83 this year, 5.45 last month
    Hammel: 4.68era as SP career, 4.97 last year, 2.98 this year, 3.45 last month

    Pretty huge price to pay for what might just be career half seasons for these two 30ish year olds.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Table says:

      why ignore FIP?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bip says:

      You should trust the projections…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ivan Grushenko says:

        The projections say Samardzija is a 3 WAR pitcher and Hammel is a 2 WAR pitcher. That seems an underwhelming return for Russell.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Table says:

          3.6 and 2.9

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          Where are you getting that?

          Samardzija – ZiPS (ROY) 1.4, Steamer(ROY) 1.2. Cubs have 73 games left. (1.4+1.2)/2 * 162/73 = 2.9

          Hammel – ZiPS(ROY) 0.7, Steamer(ROY) 0.8. (0.7+0.8)/2 * 162/73 = 1.7

          I rounded UP to 3 and 2

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Bip says:

          The rest of the A’s rotation looks even worse. Increases their need.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • LG says:

      “Ignoring the fips for a second….”

      Why even post that comment?

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • everdiso says:

        Because over a large enough sample, era bevomes a better future era predictor than fip. And we’re dealing with two vet pitchers here.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Sinnycal says:

          You’re also dealing with a pitcher who was on such a bad team that, at times, he treated the regular season like Spring Training. He would be dominant for three months and then tank a month experimenting with a new pitch and dragging his season numbers down. He’s been frustrating like that, but he’s not a crop-up guy coasting on a few inexplicably lucky months. He has legitimate TOR stuff, one of the best single pitches in the majors, has always had great peripherals, ranks among the best SP velocity in baseball, low mileage on his arm for his age, great athleticism, and no injury history whatsoever. His breakout this year isn’t particularly surprising to people who paid attention to him, and A’s fans are going to like having him.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. BDF says:

    Many of the comments are missing the point. The Beane-ian innovation was not stockpiling prospects at low cost or the fungibility of proven veterans or anything like that–it was identifying and exploiting the market inefficiencies. Prospects are crazily overvalued right now, which is why we haven’t seen Price move. It’s not only not a sure thing that Russell turns into an All-Star even one time, it’s probably not even likely (although I’d be interested in seeing the numbers on the likely career of a top 5 prospect). Doesn’t mean it’s a bad deal for the Cubs, I think it’s win-win, classic mutual gain through voluntary exchange.

    +47 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Alex says:

      100% agreed.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bip says:

      Very good point, I feel there must be something inefficient about how ridiculously prospects are valued in trades nowadays. I definitely think they were undervalued for a while (primarily because even if they don’t become stars, they are still so cheap), but the pendulum may have swung too far the other way. This trade is so surprising because we almost see top-10 prospects as untradeable, when clearly most of them don’t turn into franchise-altering players.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      Please tell us all again how Beane invented the idea of “buy low and sell high”. It just can’t be said enough. Adding the “most people dont’ realize that…” or “it’s not that….(insert something even more stupid here)” just adds to brilliance of the comment.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • BDF says:

        It’s not buy low/sell high that was the innovation. It was the realization that how you determine what high and low actually were changed over time.

        +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          Yes, before 2002 everyone believed that Scott Hatteberg couldn’t hit well enough to play 1B. After the A’s put him there for several years, it was confirmed!

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • lowcountryjoe says:

      “I think it’s win-win, classic mutual gain through voluntary exchange.”

      You know that’s not the way this works in fandom. There HAS to be a winner and a loser. And there will be no shortage of people that will tell you which one is which. Stop spouting off this Economics jargon and write something a little less sensible please.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Bip says:

    In terms of pure value exchanged, it looks to me like the Cubs got a better deal. Of course it looks even better for them considering they were in a situation where they had no reason not to trade Hammel and Samardzija. A rebuilding team has little reason to keep around 30+ year old players (ok Shark is 29.5) on short-term contracts. Those players will be gone and likely in their decline phase while the rest of the team is ready to compete.

    Let’s look at the A’s position from that same lens.

    I think the A’s are in an interesting position in that they are basically in the exact opposite situation from the Cubs. The Cubs have a great farm – the A’s have a great major league roster. The Cubs have a mostly empty MLB team – the A’s have a mostly empty farm system.

    Going into this year, the A’s had a very interesting farm because they had one prospect, Russell, who many considered to be top-10, and nothing else worthy of the top 100. Of course trading Russell will hurt their future value, but it looks there isn’t much a future aside from Russell anyway. It’s not like they traded their entire future for 2 years of sub-ace pitching; they traded their best piece in a farm that probably is not good enough to build a winning team around. In this case, there is less benefit to holding onto Russell. He is going to be in his prime while the current A’s roster is falling apart, and he won’t have a lot of support from his current farm-mates. Right now, it looks like the A’s may start to look pretty bad by 2017-2018, and so they might have to rebuild during Russell’s prime.

    The argument I’m making certainly is not as clear as its inverse argument. Had they not made this trade, Russell may have come up in 2015 and destroyed the world for a A’s roster that is still competitive. The A’s may have found that they managed to maintain a good team for the next 6 years, which are Russell’s most valuable years, whereas the Cubs know for a fact that Hammel is gone after 0.5 years, and Shark after 1.5. Basically, Beane may be betting that a rebuild is going to be necessary in a few years, at which point Russell will provide less relative value to them.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      That’s true, but it’s not a given that the A’s would suck in 2018 with Russell. The current roster is made up of failed draft choices, misfits and castoffs, plus Yoenis Cespedes. The one thing Beane is good at is getting value out of the scrap heap. He’s a lot worse at spending big money or getting superstar players in trades.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • wallysb01 says:

        But how often can you really expect Beane to do that successfully? This team is made up of choice like that, in which almost all of them worked out as well as they could have. Expecting it to happen again in 2+ years seems dubious.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          Yes repeating this is not the most likely outcome, but given their crappy farm system, it’s their only option.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          True. But why count on it to such an extent that you’re not willing to maybe add 2 or so percent to your WS chance this year and a little bit to next year, while potentially taking away none from your 2016+ WS chances since the team will likely not content even with Russell?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • MLBfa23 says:

      A’s stockton team i loaded with talent, th farm doesnt look quite empty compared to 3 months ago. Its probaby 2 yrs from any reults, but talent is there

      Olson, Nunez, Robertson, Pinder, Powell, Healy etc. The first 3 are only 20 yrs old. And im sure Beane will make more trades. Who’s to say he doesnt trade cespedes, jaso, and samardzija this offseason for a haul of prospects. And A’s have ready made replacements already.jaso-vogt, cespedes-moss can shift to LF if needed, and at some point griffin (parker im less optimisti with tj surgey #2)might be healthy next season and pomeranz and chavez can reclaim their rotation spots. A’s farm system is weaker but not talentless

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Bat says:

    Everdiso brings up a point that I keep thinking about…why is everyone so gaga over Shark?

    He’s in his age 29 season and has 8.2 career fWAR? Okay, he’s on track for his third consecutive season of 2.8 fWAR or more and further at his current pace it will be a career year plus under team control next year, but is he really that good that he + Hammel equals the A’s two best prospects???

    Because while I understand Beane’s “going for it” or the “flags fly forever” mentality as Richie said above:

    The difference between, say, Colon and Sammy in any 1 single playoff game is so small. And for that you trade what is for any small-market team its only life blood? Its star (and cheap) young prospects?

    Seems like an overpay the more I think about this deal?

    Anyway, maybe it is a seller’s market like “tz” said above.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Mike Petriello says:

      These aren’t unfair statements, but everyone talking about “Colon v Samardzija in a playoff game” seems to be acting like Samardzija is a rental. He’s not. That 2015 year is very valuable.

      +19 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tz says:

        And being able to afford Samardzija in 2015, more so than they would have with Price, does give him a unique amount of value to the A’s. The savings on Jim Johnson’s salary should just about cover what Shark will get in arbitration.

        +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bip says:

      Stating his age and his career WAR is pretty misleading. He definitely looks like a late bloomer. Plus he was a reliever, and they never look good by WAR. Basically all of that 8.2 WAR has come in the last three years he has been a starter. In fact, he threw more innings in 2012 than he had career innings previously.

      Shark is exactly the kind of guy fangraphs would like. In his two years as a starter, he’s had excellent peripherals, but his FIP has been higher than his xFIP, and his ERA higher than his FIP. His very good 2014 looks inevitable using fielding-independent stats. His career path isn’t typical to most good pitchers, but his performance in 2.5 years as a starter looks pretty good.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Sean says:

      “Two best prospects” is a bit misleading though. The A’s only had one top-100 prospect.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • MLBfa23 says:

        mckinney is nothing special, i didnt like the pick at the time. doubtful he sticks in CF. straily who cares, he lost his velocity and was down to 88 mph. He’s a reclamation project for cubs. A’s gave a $1 trade for mills and left straily in AAA. I hope the ptbnl isnt alcantara and instead cash. Because having alcantara bak from from tj surgery in late 2015, leon, and streich thats servicable milb pitching rotation depth

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. Table says:

    “We all knew Jeff Samardzija was going to get traded. We all knew Jason Hammel was going to get traded. We all knew the Oakland A’s were in the market for a starting pitcher. Perhaps, in retrospect, we should have expected some convergence of these things we knew.”

    It seems as if ever single Fangraphs piece these days employs this writing style of nonchalant broken statements. Honestly I’m sick of it. There are definitely advantages to groupthink, but this is clearly one of the disadvantages.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Richard says:

      “broken statements”?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BDF says:

      Not sure that “broken statements” is the right term, but I agree that there’s been a convergence and the example you cite is a good one. Blame Sullivan.

      #BlameSullivan

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steve says:

      It started with Sullivan and has taken off with everyone I guess. Not as intense as Sullivan though – you can literally chop off the first 2 paragraphs of every one of his articles.

      It’s personally not for me, but I still read his work because it’s good and most people seem to like that kind of humor. I also hate Wes Anderson’s sense of humor so we might be in the minority.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • KK-Swizzle says:

        Would you rather have the vain, stodgy emotionalism of a Bob Ryan or Rob Neyer? Feel free to get your baseball analysis elsewhere, but I for one think that this writing style meshes beautifully with the overall “ethos” of the fangraphs community. Thanks for the article, Mike!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Table says:

          So we can’t criticize something unless we are also prepared to divorce ourselves from it?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Jason B says:

          I don’t think Neyer has ever been accused of “emotionalism” before. He was one of the forebearers of the data-driven movement…

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Helladecimal says:

        That’s so true. Sullivan is the Wes Anderson of baseball writers.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • LG says:

      This website providing free content doesn’t do everything exactly the way you like? Quick, get the Justice League on it!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Table says:

        A reader provides a comment that’s not as positive as you like?
        Ready the Bat signal with haste!!!!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Table says:

        Honestly Fangraphs is one of the best places for readers to contribute to conversations about the content of the writing. Usually criticism is directed at a flaw in an analytic process, a simple difference of opinion, or even a freaking spelling error. I don’t see why my writing criticism should be dismissed as being without place.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. daniel cumings says:

    I had a nephew who was a first round draft pick as a shortstop. His 2008 season at AAA was clearly superior to Russell’s 2013 A+ season in the various fangraph statistics, with the exception of strikeouts. He struck out 12% of the time at AAA while Russell struck out 10% at A+. And the chicks really did dig the long ball. His lifetime wRC+ in the bigs was 36 and his WAR was -2.9. Now he’s selling Hondas in Encino, and his name is still Brandon Wood. I’m amazed at how accurately some people can predict the success of a prospect who has had 70 plate appearances above Single A. I know no one’s calling him the next Mike Trout, but he may not be even be the next J Lowrie.

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. dprat says:

    I think the regular season advantages to Oakland are important as well. They are currently one bad week of play ahead of the resurgent Angels. Sure, the A’s are clearly the better team even before the trade, but weird shit happens in baseball and this trade makes them that much more likely to avoid the awful play-in game where anything can happen. Also, if they can put a cushion between themselves and the rest of the division, they enter the playoffs rested and with the rotation lined up as they prefer. Mike rightly points out that the A’s position versus the rest of the usual AL powerhouses has rarely if ever been this favorable. Beane’s just trying to maximize the opportunity he sees.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      I don’t see the A’s as being “clearly the better team before the trade”, and even now they’re only slightly better.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. GilaMonster says:

    Watch the baseball world implode when Theo trades a piece(Russell fits the bill),gets Price and extends him.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. Spud says:

    It was touched on early in the replies but the As have a glaring middle infield hole at 2B now and at both next yr. I inderstand they need another top 3 pitcher to make a real run but if I’m giving up Russell, I’m adding whomever necessary to get price. Even with his injury Russell could have been an impact player for the As in their playoff run.

    Now Russell is stuck behind Castro and arismendy for SS/2B time even next yr

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      I don’t think he’s stuck behind Alcantara for 2015.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Spud says:

        Why not? Arismendy is succeeding nicely at a more advanced level (AAA) and is older. He’s also a more polished defender. If he plus well when he gets called up he’s not losing the job in spring training to Russell.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          Because Russell is better than Alcantara and being older is worse than being younger. When Russell is ready for the bigs, Alcantara is not going be be an obstacle.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Spud says:

          That theory only applies if Russell is bumping up against his ceiling for a pre-mlb player but otherwise if he can stay healthy he’s got quite a bit too much to prove to push his way to 2B to start 2015. If everything goes perfectly (pretty rare) he will push his way in mid -2015, but otherwise a productive alcantara gives them no reason to rush him. I think that’s the reality of the situation.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Spud says:

          Oh, and older isn’t worse when we’re talking about being major league ready at 22 vs 20…

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JamesDaBear says:

      They’ve moved Alcantara to CF.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. Bat says:

    Mike Petriello, I hear what you’re saying, but Shark’s salary next year in his last year of team control is likely to be $8 million or so and Colon is also under contract next year for $10 million so there is no difference in control (one year remaining for both) and that doesn’t strike me as a huge difference in salary (approximately $2 million).

    With Colon’s age – 40 – you worry about when he’ll break down and therefore there is no doubt he’s worth less than Shark at 29 y/o – that’s for sure. But I am thinking you could basically break this current deal down into Shark was traded for Russell plus a throw-in and Hammel was traded for Mckinney plus a throw-in.

    So Shark is worth Russell plus a throw-in? But Colon isn’t worth anything close to Russell and again this package for Shark plus Hammel strikes me as something of an overpay.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. jss says:

    I don’t like this for the A’s. They are going to make the playoffs regardless, and Shark is no playoff ace, IMO. I’d much rather have 1.5 years of Price than Shark and Hammel.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      I think anyone would rather have Price, but apparently he wsan’t available for what the A’s had in the system.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • lowcountryjoe says:

        You wouldn’t know that based on on the arm-chair GMs who believe that he was for what the Athletics were offering. Or believe that Beane wasn’t more content with getting two SPs for the post season run.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Grant says:

        As a rays fan I’m sick to my stomach that they didn’t get Russell. The only prospects I’d rather have (besides Buxton) are all in the cubs system and they are clearly stockpiling right now not dishing.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. Dyson says:

    I suspect the rays won’t get anywhere as good as this package for Price. Yeah they waited forever and ended up shooting themselves in the foot

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      Or they may just keep him and contend in 2015.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jacob Jackson says:

      People who think that Price is worth a lot more than Shark might not be factoring contracts. Price is going to make $20M next year. The A’s can’t pay one player 25% of their payroll. If Shark is making $5.4 this year, his final year of arb will end up paying him a little less than half what Price makes in 2015.

      That price difference is a really big deal to the A’s and at least 15 other teams in baseball.

      I would suspect that Price will only be moved to one of the big-market teams that can at least consider the possibility of signing him to a $150M+ extension this offseason.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ivan Grushenko says:

        A good reason not to factor in contracts are the reports that the A’s asked about Price and couldn’t get him for what they had to offer.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • That’s not actually a good reason to not factor in contracts. The only thing we know is the actual trade the A’s did. Everything else is just rumors and speculation.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          The only way it’s not a good reason is if the A’s insisted that the Rays pay part of Price’s contract. Otherwise the contract wasn’t an issue.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Apparently price was a consideration according to Beane

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. Bat says:

    Jss brings up an awesome point!

    You have to think the Rays will not get a better package for Price than Russell, Mckinney, Straily, and PTBNL.

    For a second, let’s talk outside the whole “these are the A’s first and second best prospects” because as Joe Posnanski likes to point out, every team has a 10 or 20 best prospects and that is not a basis of comparison against any team other than their own (potentially weak) inter-system competition.

    So let’s benchmark against other teams:

    John Sickels has Russell has the 5th best prospect in baseball as of May 1.
    Sickels has Mckinney as the 106th best prospect in baseball as of May 1.

    Straily had a decent year last year in his age 24 season; he has not been good this year but it is his age 25 season so perhaps he rebounds.

    Then the Cubs also get something of a likely lottery ticket in this PTBNL – probably will not be anyone very promising and will be more of a random young guy who is a longshot to pan out.

    You have to believe the Rays would be happy to get this return for Price: two prospects in the 106 best in baseball according to one well-known commentator plus a half-decent reliever plus a lottery ticket.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  35. tyke says:

    Some OAK fans will probably be shocked and upset at the trading of their top 2 prospects, but could this be another example of Beane being ahead of the curve? Is the market overvaluing prospects while he is acquiring known major league level quantities?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ivan Grushenko says:

      No. If the market were overvaluing prospects they’d have gotten a lot more than Samardzija and Hammel for Russell. Overvaluing prospects would be getting Price and Zobrist for this package plus maybe Robertson and Nunez.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. Hitler But Sadder says:

    Just reading the comments shows why this is such a cool trade. There is no clear cut “winner”– the public is divided. I love Addison Russell (McKinney and Straily are something between water trash and replacement), however good for Beane for trying something different-ish. I guess he was sick of “his shit” not working in the playoffs– yes playoffs are somewhat random but why not hedge your bets in the right direction?

    Lastly, if this doesn’t work the A’s will implode the team and rebuild. Billy Beane is basically that Recycle Rex.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  37. lonnie says:

    Good for BEane. Way to go for it. Who cares what the cost is if he can the A’s a WS title. Remember folks, FLAGS FLY FOREVER. Not saying it will happen, but I love it when a team puts all their chips in and goes for the gusto. U can’t always assume tomorrows success is promised (just ask Mike Rizzo and the Nat’s about that one.)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Hitler But Sadder says:

      Hey lonnie, didn’t I see you on the comment section of Bleacher Report’s 12 slide slide show about this trade? Also ducks fly together!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Johnston says:

      Who looks at flags? Do you really think that it’s more important to win one World Series and then have a crap team for years than it is to consistently have a winning team that is continually in the playoff hunt?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • angelo says:

        Not if you never win.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Ruki Motomiya says:

        Um, yeah? I am pretty sure that winning one World Series is indeed more important than having a consistantly winning team that is continually in the playoff hunt unless that team also wins a World Series. To me, anyway.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ed says:

        depends on who you ask.

        owners, GMs and such don’t get hung up on “rings” and “flags” as much as “money” and “revenue.”

        The game is secondary. this move looks like one that increases the value of the Oakland Athletics LLC.

        That I think is more important to the A’s than a consistent playoff team.

        fans and punters like us having a debate online is entirely irrelevant to the teams interests.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • atoms says:

        In a word, YES.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jason B says:

        As a Jays fan, I would rather have Florida’s last 20 years (two rings and lotsa suck) rather than Toronto’s (occasionally over .500, always looking up at the Yankees or BoSox).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  38. Skal Hoshtag says:

    There may be another intended effect that folks have not considered:

    The A’s are now the overwhelming favorite, and this trade may chill some of the potential trades that may have occurred sans the trade.

    In other words, there are more ways to eliminate the competition than one.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Skol Hashtag says:

      Alternatively.

      Not all of the competition is in the same position. While the trade may chill (or even freeze) the trade market for mid-tier teams, it may have the opposite effect on teams that are sure-fire contenders and who have lots of money. i.e. Dodgers who can go over the top by outspending.

      But then again, if those mid-tier teams don’t trade than maybe some of the trade options are lost and the Dodgers end up overpaying for lesser value. . .

      Ah…in the aggregate, who knows?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Johnston says:

      If I was the GM of a contending big-budget team and saw the news of this trade then my immediate response would be: “It’s on, Billy.”

      And I would go right out and get much better and more valuable talent than Billy did.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Skal Hoshtag says:

        That would be an unmeasured and emotional response, but I suppose baseball is tricky since one is not always dealing with rational actors.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • ed says:

        that is one reason why you would be bad at being a general manager

        +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  39. Bat says:

    Jacob Jackson, I hear what you’re saying when you write this:

    People who think that Price is worth a lot more than Shark might not be factoring contracts. Price is going to make $20M next year. The A’s can’t pay one player 25% of their payroll. If Shark is making $5.4 this year, his final year of arb will end up paying him a little less than half what Price makes in 2015. That price difference is a really big deal to the A’s and at least 15 other teams in baseball. I would suspect that Price will only be moved to one of the big-market teams that can at least consider the possibility of signing him to a $150M+ extension this offseason.

    BUT, I don’t think this considers that the A’s (or another smaller- or mid-market team) could have acquired Price this year; paid him approximately $7 million (half of full year 2014 salary of $14 million); and then flipped him in the offseason to recoup some of the prospects they expended or acquire cheaper major league talent.

    That is, the A’s could still have acquired him in 2014 mid-season for the second half and hopefully playoffs even if they can’t afford his $18 to $20 million salary next year; not absolutely necessary that they must be able to afford Price’s salary next year in order to acquire him for the second half and playoffs this year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  40. Johnston says:

    Two things really bother me about this:

    1. You should never, ever mortgage your future to win now.

    2. If you are foolish enough to ever do that, then at least make sure that you get enough value back that you certainly will win now.

    The A’s mortgaged their future and simply did not get enough back. For what they gave up, they should have got a package that would have pretty much made them locks to get to the WS – like say Price and Zobrist, which would give the A’s a starter that could actually scare people AND plug that gaping maw at second.

    Instead the A’s got just two years of totally serviceable pitchers who couldn’t scare a decent AAA team.

    -14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Joe says:

      I am not going to overstate Samardzija’s and Hammel’s value, but “couldn’t scare a decent AAA team”? That’s hyperbole. You don’t get FIP’s barely above 3 by being “serviceable”. There are very few good pitchers on the market, which drove up the cost. I agree that Russell is a steep price to pay, but you set yourself up for that as a franchise when you have one stud prospect and nobody else close behind.

      What type of pitcher would they get without including Russell? I think even McCarthy is a stretch in that scenario. So, the A’s did what they had to do and they took advantage of this window that has opened for them.

      +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ruki Motomiya says:

      “1. You should never, ever mortgage your future to win now.”

      This is simply just not true as an absolute statement. There ARE times to take from the future and put it into the present. Whether this specific deal is it, I don’t know, but I can definitely think of scenarios where taking from the future is a good idea, usually if you are competitive at the present with a roster which will not be around past 2-3 years and have just a few high end prospects but little floor to support them. While the value of this trade is questionable in specific, the mania over not trading prospects is getting extreme. Don’t forget that prospects are only for a CHANCE to be good in the future…and if you don’t have a roster to be good, then what you’ll end up doing is rotating prospects in for your old prospects who leave and basically turning in place, though that is not the case for the A’s (It is more applicable to the Royals in the Shields trade).

      +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tz says:

        As a die-hard Red Sox fan, I remember way back when we traded a couple of prospects to get Mike Boddicker for the pennant stretch. And even though the Sox used to pull crap like Bagwell for Andersen until it became nauseating, I still don’t regret them making that Boddicker deal, because the time was right for them with Clemens, Boggs, etc. at their peaks.

        Yes, even though the two prospects turned out to be Brady Anderson and Curt Schilling, I’m glad they made that deal.

        +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Will says:

        Amen. Think the Phillies wished that they had traded “untouchable Dom Brown” a couple of years ago when they got Pence? Instead they traded some lesser prospects, who are probably all more appealing now than Brown.

        A prospect is just that.

        +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • ed says:

      1. You can and should mortgage your future if you don’t really have a future with one player.

      2. they tried price and couldn’t work a deal. I assume they mentioned russell and zobrist in those conversations

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • wallysb01 says:

      Price AND Zobrist? Can you pass around the stuff you been smoken’? I think we’d all like a hit of that!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Gyre says:

      “1. You should never, ever mortgage your future to win now.”

      If you don’t win now, there is no future

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • dominik says:

      I don’t think they “mortgaged” their future. McKinney is not bad as he has a good eye but if he has to move to first he will be of very limited value because he is not a real power hitter.

      the only big loss is Russell and I’m not sure if he alone can Keep this Team at the top when a lot of guys have left.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  41. Joe says:

    I feel like Chris Bosio is not getting enough credit for the work he has done improving pitchers. This is a critical part of the “sign and flip” approach Epstein and Hoyer have employed very successfully. (Side note: Why aren’t more teams trying this?) If these pitchers perform poorly, there’s no market. He has worked wonders with Samardzia, Hammel, Feldman, Wood, etc. Plus, he’s done a great job working with the pieces that come back to the Cubs, like Arrieta, Ramirez, Grimm, etc. Certainly up for a raise.

    As an unabashed Cubs fan, I love the return. However, I also appreciate the fact that Theo said they hope it will be the last year they have to make trades like this. Can the Cubs contend in 2015? I’m not sure, but I am extremely optimistic for the next few seasons.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tz says:

      It all depends. Lately it seems like the rebuilders just catch fire at some unpredictable time after spending years accumulating young talent (A’s, Pirates, O’s, Rays). So maybe 2015, maybe some other year in the next 5 years or so.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  42. lonnie says:

    JOhnston, those who plan only for the future won’t win much in the present. I would rather win a WS title even if it cost me some future studs. Ask the Cubs fans how much they would pay for a WS title? The point of the game is to be the Champions..not being pretty good every year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  43. tz says:

    This site has limitless jokes about Ruben Amaro Jr., Dayton Moore, etc. because they don’t recognize that their team’s window for success has passed them by, or hasn’t started just yet.

    If Beane had held onto Russell, so he could be potentially be a stud in a couple years when Donaldson, Cespedes, Kazmir and others become too expensive for the A’s budget, we’d have every reason to joke about him too.

    +22 Vote -1 Vote +1

  44. Denny says:

    Isn’t the point of baseball to work toward winning a World Series? The article illustrates why this makes a ton of sense for the A’s and even more sense for the Cubs. Have a top 3 or Gray, Shark, and Kazmir in the playoffs is huge compared to the alternative that would have featured Milone/Chavez. Beans sees the opportunity and has to seize the opportunity when it makes the most sense. 2014 is shaping up to be the year of the A’s before Beane has to retool the club after 2015 with low priced over-looked talent. The A’s may not see this chance for another 10 years or more. They paid a high price but if it gets them a better shot at a WS title, which is does, it’s hard to argue that Beane gave too much.

    If Russell works out and becomes a star with the Cubs (and would have presumably become a star for the A’s), what difference would it really make when he likely has his first full season in 2016? In 2016 the A’s will be rebuilding due to their low salary numbers while Russell is helping the team get to maybe .500 for the next 3 years as he works toward high $$ arbitration raises.

    This was a very smart move by Beane, a smart move by the Cubs, and a good move for baseball.

    +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • That depends on how big a star he becomes. If he’s Jhonny Peralta it’s no biggie. If he’s Derek Jeter or Ernie Banks then it’s a biggie.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • a eskpert says:

        Johnny Peralta is pretty good.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Ivan Grushenko says:

          Yes he is. But I don’t mind trading a pretty good player to improve for the stretch run. I didn’t mind trading Andre Ethier for Milton Bradley or Aaron Harang for Jose Guillen even though those guys gave their teams a lot more value than the A’s got.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  45. KK-Swizzle says:

    I love, love, love this trade for both teams. My thoughts:

    1. Mike alluded to this in the article, but it bears repeating; can we please stop evaluating trades apart from team context? The goal of a baseball team is to win championships, and small/mid market teams simply can’t field elite teams year after year. Thus, for Beane in particular, stacking this demonstrably good team is a top priority. In other words, +3 wins in 2014-15 > +3 wins in 2015-2016. The Cubs on the other hand, are simply continuing in the direction they’ve been headed for 3 years now: becoming perennial title contenders, beginning in 2016. (Just like Boston did at the turn of the millenium)

    2. No prospect is a sure thing. We’ve been spoiled in recent years by the elite performances of Harper, Machado, and especially Mike “baseball god” Trout. It’s not normal for 21-year olds to be deserving MVP candidates. Russell is extremely valuable long-term, but probably wouldn’t contribute much in the A’s immediate window. The difference between this and the Myers trade? Oakland is really frickin’ good already! Beane knows his odds, and he has doubled down at exactly the right time. Samardzija represents a significant upgrade to an already loaded team for the exact year and a half when they need one most.

    Two of my favorite GM’s making two of my favorite franchises better in radically different ways. #BOOM

    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Skal Hoshtag says:

      Agreed. But stop putting Harper and Machado with Trout when listing elite prospects who succeeded. That practice should have died out a while ago. Trout is Trout. Harper is a tier below. Machado a tier below. For tippity toppity prospects, Harper and Machado’s success is not uncommon.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Marsupial Jones says:

        Its true. Pretty much every other year some top prospect comes in and does pretty much what Harper and Machado have done. If not better.

        Go look at what guys like Tulowitzki, Mauer, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Zimmerman, Votto, Longoria, Mcutcheon, Heyward, have done in their first couple seasons. You will quickly realize that Harper and Machado are not out of the ordinary.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Gyre says:

      the goal of a baseball team is to make MONEY

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Johnston says:

        The goal of the front office is to make money. The goal of the actual team is to win games.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Hold on, you just said something very different a few posts up. What gives?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Turd Ferguson says:

          Nothing makes money like winning games…

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Gyre says:

          No. You fail appreciation of the C. Mack baseball business model.
          You make the most money winning enough, but not too much.
          You also seemed to have missed the rise of MLBPA and profit sharing.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Turd Ferguson says:

          I thought the Connie Mack Business Model’s idea was to avoid the Championship win to keep players from wanting raises. Thus retaining players for cheaper and increasing profit margin THAT way. Other than that im not sure what is meant by winning enough but not too much. Back when ticket sales dictated mostly all revenue and teams scraped by i can definitely understand this strategy. But its just not currently the case. If only the Philidelphia Athletics could’ve gotten their own TV network contract, bet they would’ve been fine with winning some more championships and retaining players. Sure players and owners get paid unimaginably well nowadays but the “World Series Champion” PR sells more tickets/merch/advertising/good will etc. than falling short ever will anymore. Winning defines all who try in modern sports.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  46. Marsupial Jones says:

    I really, really dont understand how Shark and Hammel command this type of price tag. Samardzija is still largely unproven and may be nothing more than a league avg guy who had a couple outstanding months and Hammels is probably a back of the rotation guy at best.

    If this is the price for a guys like that, what is the price for…..Price?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  47. Gyre says:

    A’s just moved the conversation from the Cubs to the A’s, which one of these pitchers will the A’s trade by the deadline? What infielder will they get for him? A’s didn’t need two pitchers.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  48. Bat says:

    Can this be accurate?

    http://www.gammonsdaily.com/peter-gammons-biggest-trade-of-the-season-cubs-send-samardzija-hammel-to-as-for-russell/

    Says Beane said to Theo “You got Barry Larkin” after Beane agreed to the Russell et al. trade for Shark?

    1.5 years of Shark and .5 years of Hammel for age 20 Barry Larkin??

    I had assumed Beane did not believe Russell was a definite star or, at the least, was unsure he would be a star.

    This seems to indicate he is sure he IS going to be a star, and still made this trade???? Seems like a lot to give up, in my mind.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • If he becomes Barry Larkin, that’s still a good thing for the A’s. It validates their draft and development process that led them to Russell, and it builds positive future trading relations league wide. If every player you trade away either busts or breaks down, it makes you look like a snake oil salesman.

      Beane has done several big trades with NL teams, and I think trading away talent is easier to swallow when you’re not competing directly with that team for a playoff berth.

      This is a great time to make a WS push. The AL wealthy powers are down, and it would be wonderful to shine some extra national media attention on the A’s dilapidated stadium. Imagine if the clubhouse sewage backs up again at a World Series game. Or the power goes out again, delaying a nationally televised ALCS game.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • He traded Barry Larkin for Jeff and Jason? That sounds terrible.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  49. pft says:

    Billy Beane is smart, he realizes prospects are a roll of the dice, even highly rated ones, and he can only keep the ones who pan out for 6 years anyways. Today is whats important for teams with a chance for the playoffs.

    Cubs were starting to play good ball, it was a better team than their record indicated. Pity the Cubs fans. Theo doing the only thing he can with an owners who won’t spend.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • mike says:

      pft, I’d wager that knowledgable Cubs fans know that this season is lost for them. The Cubs ownership would be stupid to spend and not just save for the future…the talent simply isn’t out there right now to buy a competitive team, much less enough to get them to the playoffs. They now have a farm system that is the envy of every GM in baseball. They’re in the best shape they could hope to be in.

      Baseball isn’t the NFL. Success as a team is about organizational success down to the minors.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  50. mike says:

    Holy…crap. The Cubs have the potential to become a beast-mode dynasty starting within a couple of years. I wouldn’t want to be in that division with them…outside of the Cards no one else will be able to keep up.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Johnston says:

      Perhaps Billy Beane has pity on the Cubs, and made this deal so that the Cubs could finally win a World Series themselves.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Gyre says:

        Look it up! The Cubs have NEVER won while playing in Wrigley (and that’s the true curse!). It doesn’t matter who they have on the team, just that the seats are full.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JS says:

      The Cards are quickly becoming today’s Phillies. The Cubs might be scary in a year or two, but the Brewers will be able to compete for years to come.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Explain the Cards/Phillies correlation please. Cards have a solid major league core, a smart GM, and a good group of young players/farm (before they graduated everyone).

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  51. Johnston says:

    Pretty much everyone agrees that the playoffs are a crapshoot, and very luck-dependent.

    Given that this is the case, my thesis is that it’s better to have a consistently good team that always (or almost always) gets into the playoffs and therefore gets multiple chances over the years to win the playoff lottery as opposed to going all in for one year and only getting one chance to win it all over the same period of time.

    Argue away at it. :)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • My rebuttal – the entire recent history of the Oakland A’s.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tz says:

        I’m sure Braves fans like the team they built and maintained throughout the 90’s, to Johnston’s point.

        But some teams don’t have it in their budget to keep all their core players over a long stretch. So they have to go for it when they can, and dump when they can, just like the Marlins have done repeatedly.

        And like the A’s are doing right now.

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • wallysb01 says:

          Yeah, this guy’s position is frankly absurd. Even big budget smart teams can’t guaranty a 90+ win team that will compete for the playoffs every year. For example, look at the Red Sox over the last 15 years-ish. Even they went through a couple of cycles now.

          So, if Boston can’t really do it, how do we expect the A’s with, what, 1/3 the payroll to do it?

          I also think the “crap-shoot” of the playoffs is being overstated here in two ways.

          1) Getting into the playoffs is different than it used to be with the one game play-in. The A’s still had a very real chance of ending up in the 1 game playoff. Avoiding that part of the playoffs clearly makes the playoffs less of a crap-shoot.

          2) Better teams do win more often even in a short series, plus the team with the better record gets home field advantage.

          So, if you aim for a team that can just barely scrape by to get into the playoffs every year, you’re going to end up in that one game playoff and without home field advantage in the DS and CS more often.

          Plus, you realistically just can’t do this every year, especially on a tight budget. So, you’re going to just barely scrape by to get into the playoffs for a few years, then bust out for a few more. Maybe you luck out, much like the Giants of late, a pull together a WS title when you do manage to make the playoffs, but much more likely, you won’t get out of the one-game playoff or the DS.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Johnston says:

          The Braves and Yankees have done it.

          It can be done.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Antonio Bananas says:

          So basically, all you have to do is acquire three hall of famers in your rotation for 9 years, as well as a cornerstone bat who is a top 4 guy of all time at his position, and churn out great players from your farm system, perhaps the best fielding center fielder of all time who also has a 50 HR season.

          Or have a payroll absurdly higher than everyone else’s.

          Because that’s how the Braves and Yankees did it.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Antonio Bananas says:

          I like this trade for both.

          From the As fan’s perspective, no one knows Russell better than Beane. Maybe he’s not as good as we think. If prospects turned out like we thought they would, then Seattle and Kansas City’s lineups would be a lot better. Ackley, Smoak, Moustakas, Zunino, etc.

          It’s 1.5 years of Shark, which is great for them, plus he should either be traded for a similar package or receive a QO and net them a first round draft pick.

          On top of all of that, Beane is great at finding players from the scrap heap and filling gaps.

          For the Cubs, they have a farm system like the ones I build on MLB: The Show. I usually end up winning a handful of World Series and I expect the same in Chicago.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • hk says:

      As I mentioned above, the playoffs aren’t the same crap shoot that they were 2 or more years ago. If you win the division, you’re in the crap shoot. If you get the Wild Card, you have an ~50/50 chance of getting into the crap shoot…less than 50/50 this year if you have to face the Mariners and King Felix. Therefore, winning the division is huge. These two starters increase the A’s chances of winning the division.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  52. Helladecimal says:

    Doesn’t anyone remember the recent article that showed how little of the A’s recent rosters have been built from draftees and internally developed prospects? This may be more in line with Beane’s organizational strategy than much of this commentary admits.

    If there’s a beneficial element to a short-side game of employing underutilized but experienced major league personnel, than Beane has identified it. The recognizable names involved in this trade just threw us off a bit.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  53. Bomok says:

    Keep in mind that there is still a PTBNL. We don’t know who he is, he may be important.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  54. FeslenR says:

    I like this trade from both team’s standpoint, and how aggressive Beane is. His team needed the pitching upgrade and got it while the Cubbies needed more prospects and youth.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  55. Thufir says:

    I wonder what this says about Beane’s evaluation of Russell. I hear they Larkin comparison but it just doesn’t make sense to me to think he would have traded him if he didn’t see some sort of hole in his game….

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  56. Joe says:

    It’s weird how quickly Straily has fallen out of favor. The guy strikes out basically a batter an inning. The drop in velocity is concerning, but it’s a little disingenuous to call him a soft-tosser, right? Straily is at worst a back of the rotation starter. The Cubs have begun to exploit a weakness in the market, the overvaluing of pitching prospects. Teams are holding onto elite pitching prospects much more than position players. The Cubs have also realized that teams are undervaluing some of their own pitching in the form of guys like Arietta, Straley, and Wood. They guys are all in their mid-twenties and have all had shown flashes of being at least serviceable starters. They’re also all cheap for several more years. Yes, none of these guys are going to anchor a rotation, but you have to fill those last few slots. If the velocity picks back up for Straily, then I could see him being a very useful starter for a couple of years.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  57. LONNIE says:

    I love how so many are posting that the Cubs front-office has made so many great moves in the last couple of years and won so many trades. Well how many games have they won??? Isn’t that the point of playing the game.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  58. SKob says:

    Theo Epstein is 1 step ahead here guys. Other the Cardinals, pitching prospects are dropping like flies (Wacha?). After Jose Fernandez went down, it should be clear as day that building a team with amazing offensive prospects is the way teams should be moving. The most variabilty in prospecting is with young arms. Brandon Wood aside (as one story above mentioned), the bats are fairly reliable, especially when you stockpile a ton of them. Arrieta is an amazing example of a guy picked off the heap, performing crazy good and still won’t get huge FA dollars because he’s still really in small samplesville. Develop 2-3 pitching prospects, find 2-3 off the heap, deal for 1 or 2 more to front the rotation… They will soon start to target post TJ surgery success stories in deals and signings, or guys who have managed to go years without issue. Why deal with drafting Appel, Brady Aiken, Jameson Taillon, Bundy, even Harvey. Maybe they all become superstars, but what is Strasberg right now? How has he rebounded? The greatest pitching prospect ever (seemingly) had TJ and has been great since… and also shaky as hell! If he becomes truly great again… look for him to sign with the Cubs in a few years!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>