According to multiple reports, the Chicago Cubs have traded starting pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for some of the organization’s top talent – including top prospect Addison Russell.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was one of the first to report on the deal:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 5, 2014
Cubs/A’s deal official. Samardzija and Hammel for Russell, McKinney, Straily, PTBNL. Analysis to follow on ESPN Insider.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) July 5, 2014
Samardzija, 29, was widely considered to be one of the top arms available prior to the trade deadline at the end of the month and adds to an Oakland rotation that has already played a role in propelling the club to what appears to be a third straight American League Western Division title.
After a red-hot start to the year, the right-hander has struggled a bit of late, but despite his 2-7 record, he has pitched to the tune of a 2.83 ERA in 17 starts with Chicago, the team that drafted him in the fifth round eight years ago.
Hammel has been no slouch either, going 7-5 in 16 starts with a 2.98 earned run average. He has a minuscule 1.013 WHIP as well, which ranks near the top of National League ranks.
Back to the return the Chicago front office has pulled in.
Russell, 20, was ranked as the seventh-best prospect in baseball by Baseball Prospectus prior to this season and in 18 games between Advanced Class-A and Double-A ball this season, was hitting .297/.400/.422. Last season in 107 games at Advanced-A, the shortstop hit .269/.369/.495 with 17 home runs and 60 RBIs to go along with 21 steals.
The addition of Russell will surely leave some fans scratching their heads, given the team has Starlin Castro locked up long-term with the likes of Javier Baez and Kris Bryant already waiting in the wings on the left side of the infield in the Cubs’ system, but adding talent like Russell, who was, as mentioned, Oakland’s top prospect, will only increase the depth in the Chicago farm system, giving Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer more pieces with which to work in the years to come.
The 19-year-old McKinney has appeared in 75 games for Advanced-A Stockton this season, and his hitting .241/.330/.400 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs. He was the 24th overall pick by Athletics in last June’s draft and hit .326/.387/.437 between Rookie and Low-A ball.
Straily, the only member of the trade coming to Chicago with big league experience, put together a solid season in 2013 for the A’s, going 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts, helping contribute to the club’s repeat at the top of the division. This season, in just seven starts, the 25-year-old Straily is 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA.