The Cubs and Athletics not only jump started the trade season Friday night, the two teams kicked the door in with a six-player blockbuster that sent RHP Jeff Samardzija and RHP Jason Hammel to Oakland for SS Addison Russell, OF Billy McKinney, RHP Dan Straily and a PTBNL.
Speculation started not long after the Cubs beat the Nationals Friday afternoon that a deal could be in the works for Jason Hammel. And at least Hammel now knows why Rick Renteria pulled him Saturday after throwing only 92 pitches. But no one saw the Cubs trading both Samardzija and Hammel to the same team in the same deal.
According to Jeff Passan, the deal between the Cubs and A’s came together Friday morning. The two teams started discussing Jeff Samardzija a month ago, re-engaged talks about Samardzija Monday and Jason Hammel was first discussed Wednesday.
The Cubs acquired one of the best prospects in the game in Addison Russell that was considered untouchable, the A’s first round pick from a year ago in OF Billy McKinney and RHP Dan Straily, who was 10-8 last season for Oakland in 27 starts with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. Straily has been assigned to Triple-A Iowa, for now. The Cubs will also receive a PTBNL in the deal according to multiple reports and the fourth player coming back in the deal should be a pitcher.
Keith Law broke the six player trade down as follows: Addison Russell and Dan Straily for Jeff Samardzija and Billy McKinney straight up for Jason Hammel. Law understands the PTBNL “won’t change the balance of the deal.”
Once the trade is made official, the Cubs will have an open spot on the 40-man roster. With the subtractions of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel and the addition of Dan Straily, the Cubs 40-man roster will officially stand at 39 players.
The Cubs now have arguably the best system in baseball with the additions of Addison Russell and Billy McKinney. And according to Jason Parks, the Cubs have three of the top six prospects in the game and four of the top 18. Baseball America will have Kris Bryant (2), Addison Russell (5) and Javier Baez (7) and Arismendy Alcantara (33) in its Midseason Top 50 that went to press Thursday.
The Cubs have an impressive group of shortstops in the system and the fact that shortstops are typically the most athletic players on the field that gives the Cubs flexibility moving forward.
Oakland selected Addison Russell in the first round of the 2012 draft (11th overall pick) and he is considered one of the premier shortstop prospects in the game. Russell is 6-foot, 195 pounds and he “can do everything on a baseball field” according to Baseball America.
Russell has the ability in the field to be a Gold Glove shortstop and he “generates explosive bat speed and has the bat-to-ball skills to make consistent contact.” Russell uses the entire field and has an excellent approach at the plate. Russell does not have a cannon for an arm, according to Baseball America, but it’s strong enough for shortstop and he makes up for a possible lack of arm strength with a quick release and accuracy.
Addison Russell hit .269/.369/.495 in 110 games last season between High-A Stockton and Triple-A Sacramento with 29 doubles, 10 triples, 17 home runs, 61 walks, 125 strikeouts, 21 stolen bases and a .865 OPS. This season in 13 games at the Double-A level, Russell is hitting .333/.439/.500 (16-for-48) with three doubles, a triple, a home run, eight walks, eight strikeouts, three stolen bases (caught twice) with a .939 OPS.
Russell has played in only 13 games at the Double-A level this season due to a hamstring tear that cost him basically half a season of development.
Albert Almora and Kris Bryant played with Addison Russell in the Arizona Fall League last year and welcomed Russell to the Cubs’ organization on Twitter after the trade was leaked. Russell thanked Bryant and said he was hoping to play with Bryant again and is stoked about the trade.
The Athletics selected OF Billy McKinney in the first round of the 2013 draft (24th overall pick). McKinney has been playing centerfield for High-A Stockton but he projects as a left fielder. The A’s skipped him over the Midwest League and he hasn’t been over-matched according to BA based on his strikeout-to-walk rate.
Baseball America ranked Billy McKinney as the second best prospect in the A’s system, behind Russell, prior to the season.
McKinney (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) was playing high school ball a year ago. McKinney is the second youngest player in the California League and the lefty is hitting .241/.330/.400 with 12 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 36 walks, 58 strikeouts and a .730 OPS.
According to Keith Law, Billy McKinney is a “pure left fielder with a pretty left-handed swing that he can repeat well and with good loft in hits finish.”
According to Keith Law, RHP Dan Straily is more than just a throw in the deal. Straily features a four-pitch mix with an above average slider. Law described his fastball as “fringy” and Straily admitted he’s been working on and making progress with his fastball command this season. Baseball America ranked Straily as the sixth best prospect in the A’s system before the 2013 season. Straily posted a 10-8 last season for Oakland in 27 starts with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.
Straily is 4-3 in 10 starts this season for Triple-A Sacramento with a 4.71 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. In 63 innings, he has allowed 33 runs on 54 hits with 67 strikeouts and 26 walks.
Dan Straily has been assigned to Triple-A Iowa for now. During an interview on MLB Network Radio, Straily confirmed he had been assigned to Iowa and will stay there for a little while until the Cubs work out the rotation at the big league level and in Iowa.
Straily was added to the A’s 40-man roster in 2012 and was on an optional assignment in 2013 and 2014. Straily will be out of minor league options after this season but is not eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season.