Fantasy Baseball:  Reaction to A’s and Cubs trade


Samardzija will now be slinging in Oakland.

Samardzija will now be slinging in Oakland.

The A’s were picked by many to be the team to watch this year in the American League.  They have looked really good in the early going of the 2014 season as they lead the league in runs scored and lead the AL West by 3.5 games over the Angels.  Even with all of that there were some concerns that the A’s may need to address their starting pitching as well as shore up their offense at some point before the trade deadline.   Enter Friday night’s trade between the A’s and the Chicago Cubs.

What the trade actually is:

Let’s look at the A’s side first.  The A’s were getting dangerously close to burning out their bullpen and really needed to look for starting pitching that could get deep into games.  Enter Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija who have been work horses in that department for the Chicago Cubs.   Peter Gammons said it best on Twitter yesterday.

The A’s bullpen has been their strength so far this season even with Jim Johnson failing miserably in the closer’s role earlier this season.  Sean Doolittle was unhittable up until just recently and that may have bee due to his usage.  They all could use a bit of break and the new additions should be able to help.

Jeff Samardzija’s Season Stats: W-L 2-7, 2.83 ERA, 1.204 WHIP, K/9 8.6, BB/9 2.6, FIP 3.06

Jeff Samardzija is exactly what the A’s wanted if they were going to give up a potential future star in Addison Russell.  The A’s get a starting pitcher in their prime who has the ability to miss bats as well as go deep into games.  Samardzija is having his best season statistically in the major leagues.  His walks are down and so are his home runs allowed.  Samardzija’s win loss record of course can be thrown out the window when speaking about him.  They also get control of a top of the rotation starting pitcher in their prime for two years.  They can ride him to a title this year and flip him next year for picks, or they can let him be their workhorse for the next two seasons and then make him a qualifying offer and let him walk while getting back a compensation pick.  

Jason Hammel’s Season Stats: W-L 8-5, 2.98 ERA, 1.021 WHIP, K/9 8.6, BB/9 1.9, FIP 3.16

Jason Hammel was going to be traded one way or another this season and the A’s did the right thing in getting him as a true rental for the rest of 2014.  Hammel is also having his best statistical season and has been incredibly efficient at getting deep into games.  It was only a year ago that Hammel was the opening day starter for the Baltimore Orioles so you know he has talent.  The big thing this year is he’s gotten away from a terrible ballpark for pitchers in Baltimore and limited his walks in Chicago.  His fast ball command has been spot on all season and he shouldn’t take too much of a knock moving to the American League.  I think his ERA will rise a bit, but as long as he keeps his walks down he should have no problem staying fantasy relevant.  

What the Chicago Cubs Get:

Addison Russell is looked at by many as a future star in major league baseball.  He has power and speed and can hit for average while fielding the all important position of short stop at an elite level.  Russell was looked at as a fast riser this year after having an excellent season at High A last year, but suffered a tear to his hamstring entering the season.  He just recently got back and immediately showed that his hamstring is healthy by stealing 3 bases in the first ten games back.  Some may look at this deal and ask why the Cubs dealt for another top short stop prospect after they already have Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara stashed away in the minor leagues.  The reason is because Russell is an elite asset that the Cubs coveted.  Not only do the Cubs covet him, but almost every organization in baseball wanted him.  The Cubs will find a way to get all of these young players to the major leagues and if not they will spin them off for talent.  Link to Cubs’ Best Prospects Page Here.

Dan Straily struggled this year at the major league level after the A’s had penciled him in to be their 3rd or 4th starter to open the season.  He was giving up way too many home runs and walking too many batters.  He hasn’t fared much better since being demoted to Sacramento.  He’s walking too many batters and giving up 1.3 home runs per 9 innings.   The Cubs needed a major league ready arm in return for 2/5ths of their starting rotation and Straily has upside as a starting pitcher that is able to miss bats.  The Cubs got lucky when they traded Feldman last season for the up and down Jake Arrietta and maybe they can resurrect Straily’s career the same way.  He’s still young and is on the radar in fantasy leagues as a source of K’s.  

Billy McKinney is an outfielder that is a bit further off from becoming a top major league prospect.  He’s a left handed hitter that played well last year in his first taste of pro ball, but has struggled a little this season at High A Stockton.  I liked him during the draft in 2013 because he has a really pretty swing.  I’m not sure how he fits into the Cubs future plans, but he could very well be in the majors in a few years as an outfielder with a plus bat and some speed.  

The Old Player To Be Named Later:   So it looks like the Cubs also get a prospect that is yet to be named.  I expect the Cubs to pick an upside arm from the lower levels of the A’s minor leagues as they could use some future bullpen arms.  

In short I think this deal works best for the A’s when compared to the potential deal that had been rumored for a while between the A’s and the Rays.  Two years of Samardzija is better than one year of David Price, especially when you factor in the addition of Jason Hammel.  Samardzija and Hammel landing in Oakland is as good as it gets for two National League pitchers that were traded to the American League in the middle of the season.  As for Addison Russell he goes from a situation that looked like he had a clear path to the major leagues as early as next season to a minor league system that’s loaded and he will have to fight his way to the Major Leagues.