Terra’s Take: What the Jeff Samardzija Trade Means for the Athletics and the Rest of the League at the MLB Trade Deadline
Oakland shocked many in the baseball world by acquiring starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs over the weekend. While these two pitchers were often talked about as two players that would be on the move by the trade deadline, nobody saw them being shipped out together.
Oakland already had the best record in the majors, and this trade shows the league that they are ready to make a long postseason run. Up until this point, the Tigers were still thought of as the AL’s best team, but this trade could be a tipping of the scale in Oakland’s favor as well as a precursor for the deals we will see towards the end of the month.
The price was steep as the A’s sent pitcher Dan Straily and their 2012 and 2013 first round draft picks, shortstop Addison Russell (ranked as the third best prospect in the majors) and outfielder Billy McKinney, and a player to be named later to the Cubs. So who exactly did Oakland get and what can they expect from their acquisition?
Jeff Samardzija is more than just a hard name to spell, he’s been one of the NL’s top pitchers. He had an ERA under 2.00 for the majority of the season, and even after a couple of rough outings he is still at a respectable 2.74. His walks are down while he’s on pace for another 200 strikeout season. Samardzija was the victim of poor run support with the Cubs as they scored one run or less in eight of seventeen starts.
Jason Hammel has been equally as good, with an ERA of 2.98 and a WHIP of 1.02. Like Samardzija, Hammel has worked on his control, striking out 104 and only walking 23 this season. Hammel’s only question over his career has been his health. He missed some time over the past couple of years with Baltimore and Colorado. He looks to be healthy this year and could be one of the best back end of the rotation starters. Samardzija was selected to the All Star team this year and Hammel’s numbers weren’t too far behind. Not a bad return for the A’s.
Despite the fact that Oakland has the greatest run differential in the majors, they needed some more starting pitching. AJ Griffin and Jarrod Parker were lost for the entire season in March and replacement pitcher Drew Pomeranz was placed on the DL with a fractured hand a few weeks ago. While Dan Straily and Tommy Milone were doing an admirable job, Samardzija and Hammel are a substantial upgrade. The trade now gives the A’s a rotation of Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Jesse Chavez, which is the deepest in the AL and second in the majors only to maybe the Los Angeles Dodgers.
What is really interesting is looking at how this trade is going to affect the rest of the league. Teams that missed out on Samardzija were supposed to be in on Hammel. The Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays were linked to both pitchers. The New York Yankees were thought to be in on Hammel, since it was believed they didn’t have enough for Samardzija. Look for these teams to still go out and get a pitcher, but the trade may have also helped to set the market for what teams will have to give up.
Looking at the package that it took to get Samardzija and Hammel, teams may have to put up a little more to get some of the bigger names like David Price and James Shields. Every year there is one or two trades that seem to set off a chain reaction and this could be the first domino to fall.