Short term effects for the Oakland Athletics
Although Billy Beane has not been known to be serious buyers at the trading deadline, he has completed the biggest trade to date. Before the Athletics made the trade for Jeff Samardizja and Jason Hammel, they owned the second best ERA, 3.11, in the league and arguably had the best starting rotation in all of baseball. Although the Athletics had a solid rotation with budding stars Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez, Scott Kazmir, and Tommy Milone, they have been eliminated in the playoffs by the Tigers the past two seasons because they did not have the pitching to match Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and, Anibal Sanchez. The A’s staff took a major hit when they lost Jarrod Parker for the season at the beginning of the year.
However, the addition of Samardizja and Hammel puts the A’s rotation over the Tigers’ rotation. During the first half of the year, Samardizja has been one of the best pitchers in major league baseball and has the potential to be the ace of the A’s staff. Although Samardizja has accumulated only three wins, he possesses an ERA of 2.74, 108 strikeouts, 1.17 WHIP, and 115 innings. Samardizja should feel rejuvenated with the A’s because they have the ability to score runs, unlike the Cubs. During his first and only start with the A’s, Samardizja tossed 7 innings while allowing only one run, striking out five, and earned the win. Although it is unlikely that the A’s will be able to re-sign Samardizja when he hits free agency, he does not become a free agent until the next winter, which will give the A’s two chances to win the World Series.
If the A’s are unable to repeat their success next season, the A’s could use Samardizja as trade bait before the trade deadline next year. Although Hammel will unlikely have the same effect as Samardizja, he will be important if the A’s are going to secure home field advantage for the American League playoffs. Like Samardizja, Hammel has pitched brilliantly for the Cubs, but has not received much run support. During the first half of the year, Hammel pitched to an ERA of 2.98 with a WHIP of 1.02 and 104 strikeouts in 108.2 innings. If Hammel can maintain his success, he will continue to eat innings for the A’s and provide the team with a few extra wins. Hammel will likely be called upon to pitch game 4 of the ALCS and WS if they make it that far into the playoffs. Unlike Samardizja, Hammel is a free agent this offseason, which means that he will likely be a half season rental.
Long term effects for the Chicago Cubs
In return for trading away their two best starting pitchers, the Cubs received pitcher, Dan Strailey, outfielder, Billy McKinney, and the grand prize shortstop, Addison Russell. The trade is extremely interesting and questioning for the Cubs because they desperately need young pitching, but did not receive a solid pitching prospect in the deal. Although Strailey had a nice season the best two years, he does not project as a future starter that the Cubs can build around. Along with the fact that they did not receive a pitching prospect, they got Addison Russell, eleventh best prospect by Baseball America, although they already have two shortstops, Javier Baez, sixth best prospect by Baseball America, who projects to be an All-Star in the future, and Starlin Castro, who earned his second All-Star bid this season.
Although Russell has a far superior glove to Castro and Baez, he does not possess the same bat as the duo. The Cubs will have a difficult time moving the shortstops because they already possess a stud third baseman, Kris Bryant, eight best prospect by Baseball America Arismendy Alcantara, 71st best prospect and the second rated second baseman by Baseball America, and first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, one of the bright young players in the league. Theo Epstein noted that he would be willing to trade one of his star shortstops or move them to the outfield in order to put the most talented lineup on the field.
Although the Cubs are stacked in terms of positional players, specifically shortstop, only two of their top nine prospects are pitchers and neither has pitched many games past High-A. The Cubs should look to trade their top positional prospect for another team’s top pitching prospect (they did a similar deal to acquire Anthony Rizzo). Along with Russell, the Cubs received the A’s 2012 first round pick and outfielder, Billy McKinney. Although McKinney ranked as one of the A’s best prospects and Baseball America says he is the Cubs’ 9th best prospect, the Cubs already have Albert Almora, 15th best prospect by Baseball America, and Jorge Soler, 41st best prospect by Baseball America. Instead of Strailey and McKinney, the Cubs should have attempted to reel in Raul Alcantara and/or Bobby Wahl. Although neither projects to become a future ace, they would have provided the Cubs with added depth at the position. The Cubs could have also tried to construct a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays for some of their young pitchers. Of the Jays top nine prospects, four are starting pitchers and 3 rank inside the top 100 best prospects, including star prospect Aaron Sanchez. A deal around Sanchez would have put the Cubs in a better situation as they attempt to finish their rebuilding a win games.