Billy Beane has once again put himself and the Oakland Athletics at the center of the Major League Baseball trade circle. According to breaking reports, with the initial trade relayed by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and the details of the players involved by Keith Law of ESPN, the A’s have agreed to acquire pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for top prospects Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, pitcher Dan Straily, and a player to be named later.
The deal comes as a big shock to the baseball world, as the A’s clearly swooped in quickly to land not just Samardzija, but also Hammel, both pitchers that were highly sought after by multiple teamss on this year’s market. It almost goes without saying that the piece that gets this deal done is the inclusion of Addison Russell in the trade. By adding in McKinney, the A’s sweetened the pot to land the second half of the Cubs duo.
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However, the package going back to Chicago could be seen as a bit of an overpay for the A’s, and likely sets the market for other available pitchers, including David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays. Russell, who has been limited early this season due to injury, has been on top of his game since his return and could be making the move back to Triple-A shortly. His transition to Chicago likely means that top Cubs prospect Javier Baez will definitely see a change of position, a move that many scouts feel will see Baez at second or third base long-term. And that says nothing of the Cubs depth in terms of infield prospects, which now include Russell, Baez, Kris Bryant, and Arismendy Alcantara.
The Blue Jays were said to be extensively scouting both Samardzija and Hammel in the last few months, but it was obvious they did not see the same value in either Samardzija or Hammel, and were not likely to surrender a comparable package to land either, let alone both. The Cubs were said to be asking for a package that included top prospect Aaron Sanchez, along with outfielder Dalton Pompey and lefty Daniel Norris, a deal that would have only netted them Samardzija.
It will be interesting to see if the A’s opt to keep both players or spin one off in a second deal, hoping to gain further by over-selling in a buyer’s market.
Samardzija, at 2-7 with a 2.83 ERA, an 8.6 K/9 ratio, and a 2.6 BB/9 ratio and Hammel, at 7-5 with a 2.98 ERA, an 8.5 K/9, and a sparkling 1.8 BB/9 ratio, instantly improves their situations, going from a last place team to a playoff contender.