The Fourth of July Chicago Cubs game against the Washington Nationals in Washington started out like any other game for Cubs fans and pitcher Jason Hammel. However, with a three run lead going into the seventh inning, and having thrown only 92 pitches, Hammel was pulled after giving up a double to Anthony Rendon to lead off the bottom of the seventh. Even Hammel wondered why he had been pulled at that point in the game.
It would become clear a few hours later when it was announced that Hammel and fellow pitcher Jeff Samardzija were traded to the Oakland Athletics for first round draft picks infielder Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney, right handed pitcher Dan Strally and a player to be named later. Official word was released on Saturday, and anyone watching the A’s and Toronto Blue Jays Saturday night on TV saw Samardzija being greeted by his new teammates in the dugout as the game was getting underway. Many fans were stunned by the trade, while others thought it was a great move by the Cubs.
So what did the Cubs actually get? They got two first round draft choices, one a shortstop, and one an outfielder. According to a Cubs press release, both Russell and McKinney were rated the top two prospects in the A’s farm system by Baseball America.
The big question is, did the Cubs get enough in this trade? There are some who say no, and some who say yes. Those who say the Cubs did get enough for what they gave up point to Russell and McKinney, the first round draft choices. Granted first round drafts don’t always pan out, but if these guys do develop and stay healthy, this is good news for the Cubs down the road. The other side of the conversation is that the Cubs did not get enough for Samardzija and Hammel, saying the Cubs now have too many shortstops.
What fans need to keep in mind is that Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is trying to build a future perennial winner. It has been a frustrating few years watching the Cubs in last place, but if Epstein is able to do what he says he is trying to do, Cubs fans will forgive him for prolonging their suffering. So what if the Cubs have an overabundance of shortstops in their minor league system. These guys are versatile. They can be moved to other positions or be traded. According to one source, shortstops are the most valuable players on any team.
Since the trade the Cubs have recalled pitchers Chris Rusin, Blake Parker and Tsuyoshi Wada from Triple-A Iowa. Still in the rotation are Jake Arrieta, Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood. Dallas Beeler and Kyle Hendricks will fill the spots vacated by Samardzija and Hammel.