With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, the Oakland A's have jumped on an opportunity to grab a couple of pitchers for their rotation. On Friday night, they acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs. And the trade comes just hours after Hammel had a strong outing in the Cubs' win over Washington. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the deal.
One would think that this would hurt the Cubs rotation, with Hammel sporting a 2.98 ERA and Hammel carrying a 2.83 number. But they've managed to load up with a pair of prospects and a Triple A starter that could be a positive replacement if given the opportunity. The Cubs will pick up first-round Draft picks Addison Russell and Billy McKinney from Oakland.
Russell is a shortstop that was expected to take over for Jed Lowrie after next year, as Lowrie is projected to test the free agent waters. He was Oakland's top Draft pick two years ago, and was felt by many to be the shortstop of the future for the team.
McKinney was a late pick in the first round of the 2013 Draft. At just 19 years of age, he has a tremendous upside as a center fielder. He's not the fastest or strongest player at the position, but his mechanics make him a viable option should they decide to roll the dice on him and see what he can bring.
Also joining the Cubs ranks will be Oakland's Triple A starter Dan Strailey. While his stats this year haven't been ideal, Cubs management are hoping he can find the stuff he had last season. he finished the 2013 campaign with a 10-8 record and a respectable 3.96 ERA. He also finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Oakland will get two of Chicago's premier starters. They will join Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray in the rotation, alongside either Tommy Milone or Jesse Chavez. The odd man out of those two will likely head to the bullpen while Brad Mills, who was purchased two weeks ago for the Price is Right bid of $1, will probably be designated for assignment. Samardzija was scheduled to start Saturday for the Cubs against the Nationals, but is now expected to start Sunday for Oakland. For what it's worth, the A's have now traded four of their last seven first-round picks.
The blockbuster deal stockpiles a group of young prospects for the Cubs. It's part of a rebuilding process for Theo Epstein, who has now dealt two of their top starters in each of the last three seasons. For Oakland, they can now load up a rotation that may finally match that of Detroit or even Texas, who they battled for a playoff spot on the final day of the 2013 season.