Tonight the Cubs celebrated the 4th of July with some fireworks of their own. Late this evening, Twitter was abuzz about a deal involving not one, but both of the main trade pieces the Cubs had on the market this season. The deal has reportedly been finalized and will look as follows:
It’s going to take a few days before we can really know the final workings of the deal, as some are reporting their is also a player to be named later also coming to Chicago as part of the deal. In the meantime, here are my thoughts.
Samardzija - It’s been pretty clear over the last few weeks that the Cubs seemed to be at an impasse with him and that he was all but gone. However, watching the recent success of the team, I began to wonder if it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to pay the price and extend him. I couldn’t really come to a feeling either way. One one hand, we’re seeing so many arms blow out so early now that it’s hard to justify paying for pitching on a long term basis, but on the other hand, you can’t win without it.
Hammel – I wrote about the fact that Hammel was a little frustrated about being pulled after just over 90 pitches and I think we now know why. My guess is the deal began to seriously heat up while the game was going on and as a result, word was probably sent to the dugout to end his outing after six innings of work. We knew what we had in Hammel, a guy who was brought hear to show that the worry about his arm was nothing and to hopefully catch lightning in a bottle for a flip deal. That’s exactly what we got. I don’t think he’s going to be the type of player that Oakland is expecting him to be, but I don’t think it will work out as poorly for them as it has for the Rangers and Orioles in their dealings for Cubs starting pitching the last two years. Hammel filled a role and we wave goodbye.
Russell – This is the piece that is returning that appears to be the piece that most frustrates Cubs fans, which baffles me. While Russell is a SS, he’s so incredibly young for the level he’s been playing at since he was drafted and projects as a future star. Here are his scouting grades on a 20-80 scale.
Russell Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 65
Now, compare those with Javier Baez
Baez Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 70 | Run: 50 | Arm: 65 | Field: 50 | Overall: 65
Russell is a huge piece of the deal and is currently listed as the 11th best prospect in all of baseball on MiLB.com’s top 100 list. Remember, it’s not always about getting what you “need”, but getting value in return. If Russell brings value, and he definitely does, then it continues to accelerate the rebuild process. Getting Russell is huge.
Billy McKinney – I talked today in my game notes that I was a little worried about the state of the OF in this system. Junior Lake is not the answer to any long term OF question. Former top guys like Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson are not either. That leaves two main names in the system that the Cubs are counting on as true outfielders, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler. Almora has struggled a little this season and Soler can’t seem to stay on the field due to injuries. Adding another OF bat is a big plus.
Dan Straily - He immediately slots into the Cubs rotation, with two slots open. My guess is that the other spot will be filled by Tsuyoshi Wada, but no word has come out as of yet. Other options could be Dallas Beeler, Kyle Hendricks, and Chris Rusin. Straily is young and is working on his third year of starting in the Majors. I’ll take that.
There are also rumors that a PTBNL could be coming and some have speculated that it would be Raul Alcantara, who is the A’s 4th rated prospect, but who is rehabbing from Tommy John this season. We’ll have to see how that shakes out.
Ultimately, I like the deal. We add more high ceiling guys for two guys we weren’t going to build around. The more talent we have, the easier it becomes to acquire the missing pieces we need via trade. Overall, I like what went down tonight.