Cubs Trade Samardzija, Hammel to the A’s

In News And Rumors by GW

Well, that escalated quickly. The Cubs have traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and a player to be named later. Ken Rosenthal was the first to report discussions about an hour ago, and was the first to call it done. Tom Loxas has been all over these discussions, as well, while Keith Law filled in the final details.

(UPDATES: Rosenthal is not reporting the PTBNL. Susan Slusser says PTBNL or cash. Passan also says yes, authoritatively.)

Addison Russell was the top prospect in the A’s system, ranked #14 overall before the start of the season. He’s a 20-year old shortstop currently playing in AA. He owns a career line of .300/.390/.519 in the minor leagues with a 22% strikeout rate and 11% walk rate. According to Jason Parks, he will rank #6 overall on Baseball Prospectus’s forthcoming midseason list. Here’s what Baseball America had to say about him prior to the start of the season:

Russell can do everything on the field while showing polish beyond his years. His swing hasn’t required much tinkering since he entered pro ball, as he generates explosive bat speed and has the bat-to-ball skills to make consistent contact… He uses the whole field and stays inside the ball well. He already had a mature approach, but he chased fewer pitches and controlled the strike zone even better as the 2013 season went along… Russell has plenty of power for a shortstop, though he’ll rate close to average overall as he projects to continue producing 15-20 homers a season ..Few question his defensive future now [at shortstop]. Russell has solid fundamentals and takes good angles to balls. His lower half works well, and he has the range and athleticism to make plenty of highlight-quality plays. He doesn’t have a cannon for an arm, but it’s strong enough for the position and plays up thanks to his quick transfer and accuracy…

Billy McKinney was the a first round pick of the A’s last year out of high school. He’s a 6’1″, 195 lb outfielder,  currently playing in Stockton (A+). His career line is .277/.354/.416, with 16% walks, and 10% strikeouts. BA, again:

 It didn’t take long for observers in pro ball to fall in love with McKinney’s baseball aptitude and picturesque lefthanded swing. He shows advanced instincts both at the plate and in the field, with his tool set drawing Mark Kotsay comparisons. McKinney gets around on good fastballs but also has the bat control to handle offspeed stuff. Scouts forecast his power to show up more down the road, projecting him for 15-20 homers. He doesn’t have premium speed, but he’s a good athlete and average runner. He gets good jumps and takes quality routes in the outfield, giving him a chance to stick in center field, though the pre-draft consensus was he’d have to move to a corner. His average arm could give him a chance in right if he can’t stick in center.

Dan Straily really broke out in AAA in 2012, striking out 32% of the batters he faced while walking only 7.5%. That success hasn’t translated well to the pros, and Straily has been up and down since then. In 2014, he has struggled somewhat with his command, walking about 10% of hitters between AAA and Oakland. His velocity has been down a notch on all his pitches this season, as well.

Loxas has speculated that there could be another team involved, which wouldn’t be all that surprising given the Cubs’ depth at shortstop.

Overall, I’m lukewarm about losing Samardzija, but this is a very solid return.

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