On Friday, 4th of July the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics made a huge blockbuster deal. The Cubs sent RHP Jeff Samardzija and RHP Jason Hammel to the Athletics for prospects, Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and a player to be named later. The Cubs did trade two of their best pitchers, but also got three very talented prospects in return helping their rebuilding effort.
Leading the list is SS Addison Russell. Russell, standing at 6’0 195lb, was the Athletics first round pick in 2012(11th overall) and has taken off since being drafted. In 2013 he hit .269 Avg, .369 Obp, 17 HR and 60 Rbi while tallying 61 walks with 125 strikeouts. Russell is ranked the 11th overall prospect in all of baseball(MLB.com) and as high as number 3 overall in some rankings(ESPN). Russell is an all-around player with the ability to hit for average, solid power, and the ability to stick at SS. There have been reports via twitter that some scouts said Russell is “A Barry Larkin with power” that being extremely high praise. The Cubs president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, said in a press conference that Russell had to be in the deal or it wouldn’t have happened.
Another first round pick in 2013 in this trade is Billy McKinney. McKinney is a 6’1 195lb outfielder. McKinney and Cubs outfield prospect Albert Almora are said to have similar styles of play. Both have solid defense while hitting for a solid average while not quite wowing with the power. Almora’s tools are rated slightly higher than McKinney’s but that doesn’t take anything away from the 2013 first rounder. This season McKinney has hit .241 Avg, .330 Obp with 10 HR, and 30 Rbi with 36 BB and 56 strikeouts. Also should be noted that McKinney is only 19 playing in A(+) ball so he is a young player for the league. McKinney isn’t quite as good of a prospect as Russell but he is still a solid player. McKinney also is not rated on any top 100 prospect lists.
The only pitcher in the deal, Dan Straily is a 25-year-old right-handed starter. In 2013 Straily went, 10-8 in 27 games started tallying an Era of 3.96 in 152.1 innings pitched while striking out 124. This season though, Straily hadn’t been as impressive going 1-2 with a 4.93 Era in 38.1 innings pitched, striking out 34. Straily’s Era was considerably higher this season and some reports indicate that Straily lost velocity on his Fastball making him not as effective as he is a finesse pitcher with an above average change-up. Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio has been very good at turning around pitchers in the past so this will be another project for him.
Overall, the Cubs got three solid prospects for their future. Russell is a potential middle of the order bat while manning SS, McKinney is a potential All-star and Straily could fit in nicely in a rotation in the 3 or 4 spot. The Cubs future is bright.