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Jul-04-2014 22:51printcomments

Cubs Samardzija, Hammel Part of Blockbuster MLB Trade

The A's have now traded four of their last seven first-round Draft picks.

Jeff Samardzija
The A's pulled the trigger on the ultimate blockbuster Friday evening, acquiring Cubs starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel at the cost of two first-round Draft picks in Addison Russell and Billy McKinney. Photo Courtesy: Chicago Cubs

(OAKLAND, Calif. ) - The A's pulled the trigger on the ultimate blockbuster Friday evening, acquiring Cubs starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel at the cost of two first-round Draft picks in Addison Russell and Billy McKinney.

Oakland also packaged its best Triple-A starter, Dan Straily, in the deal, as confirmed by MLB.com.

Neither club has confirmed the trade, which was first reported by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

This, though, is certain: One of baseball's best pitching staffs, belonging to baseball's best team, just got better.

Samardzija, carrying a 2.83 ERA, and Hammel, no slouch with a 2.98 mark, will join an A's rotation led by Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray. Either Tommy Milone or Jesse Chavez will remain in the five-man mix, with the odd man out perhaps transitioning into a long-relief role in the bullpen. Brad Mills, acquired just two weeks ago for all of $1, will likely be designated for assignment.

Samardzija was scheduled to start Saturday against the Nationals; now, he will likely start Sunday for the A's.

Russell, the club's top Draft pick two years ago, was long considered the A's shortstop of the future, with a plan in place for him to be there as soon as next season following Jed Lowrie's expected departure via free agency. But their willingness to part ways with him, despite his potential to be a true star in this game, only demonstrates general manager Billy Beane's burning desire to win now.

After all, now could be Beane's only window for winning a World Series. The A's haven't even been to one in Beane's 16 seasons as their general manger, advancing to the postseason seven times but the American League Championship Series just once.

Just nine months ago they were bounced from the AL Division Series in Game 5 at the hands of the Tigers for a second consecutive year, resulting in a familiar heartache.

Fast forward to Friday. At 53-33, Beane's A's exited the Fourth of July with the Majors' best record for a 17th consecutive day. Come Saturday, they'll pose an even greater threat, following a not-so-subtle move that proves just how determined they are to achieve what's expected of them.

Samardzija, 29 and a free agent after 2015, was in the midst of his seventh season with the Cubs, posting a .245 opponents' average and 103 strikeouts next to 31 walks in 108 innings spanning 17 starts. The 31-year-old Hammel has a 1.01 WHIP and 97 strikeouts with only 21 walks in 102 2/3 innings in 16 starts, his most recent one coming Friday. He's a free agent at the end of the season.

Russell was hitting .333 with a .939 OPS in 13 games for Double-A Midland, after spending much of the first half of the season shelved by a hamstring tear. His departure could seemingly set up the A's to enter extension talks with Lowrie, who could very well be affordable amid a down year offensively.

McKinney, taken by the A's as the 24th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, was hitting .241 for Class A Advanced Stockton, while Straily, who posted a 4.11 ERA in 41 career starts for the A's, was pitching to the tune of a 4.71 ERA for Triple-A Sacramento following his May demotion.

The A's have now traded four of their last seven first-round Draft picks.

Source: MLB.com




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