Russell, a shortstop, is considered one of the top prospects in baseball and was drafted out of high school in 2012, the 11th player selected. He hit .369/.432/.594 in 55 games after the draft and followed that up with a slash line of .275/.377/.508 with 17 HR and 21 SB as a 19-year-old in the California League. He hurt his hamstring in the second game of the 2014 season and has missed most of the year. Recently returned to the diamond in AA, he's hit .270/.413/.351 in his last 10 games. The 20-year-old will likely head to Tennessee and replace the platoon of Jerry Valdez and Elliot Soto. Here's a recent story on Russell from Oakland Clubhouse's Kimberly Contreras . After the trade was announced on social media, Cubs prospects Albert Almora and Kris Bryant welcomed Russell to the Cubs organization. The trio were teammates in the Arizona Fall League with the Mesa Solar Sox
McKinney was the A's top pick last year, 24th overall, out of Plano West High School in Texas. He hit .326/.387/.437 in 55 games, 46 in the Arizona Rookie League and made the jump to High A this year in the California League (.241/.330/.400, 75G, 10 HR, 12 2B). The 19-year-old left-handed hitting center fielder may join Daytona and share the outfield with Almora. Oakland Clubhouse's fourth-ranked A's prospect, McKinney's best tool is his bat and he also plays a sold center field with a plus arm. Here's another piece by Kimberly Contreras on McKinney
Dan Straily, a former 24th round pick in 2009 out of Marshall, broke onto the scene in 2012 as he fanned 190 in 152 innings between AA and AAA for the A's. Ranked as A's # 2 prospect by MLB.com in 2013, Straily made his MLB debut in 2012 and went 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts for Oakland last year. The 25-year-old made seven starts for the A's this year but was sent back to AAA after allowing nine homers (1-2, 4.93 ERA). A report out of Oakland said Straily is headed to AAA Iowa but could see the Friendly Confines soon.
It marks the third straight year the Cubs have traded away 40 percent of their starting rotation but they have four quality arms waiting in AAA this time, including Straily. Kyle Hendricks, Tsuyoshi Wada and Dallas Beeler should all see time on the mound at Wrigley before the season is over.
Samardzija was the Cubs top starter the past two and half years, reaching career highs in innings (231.1) and strikeouts (214) in 2013. The 29-year-old has spent seven seasons with the Cubs organization, making his big league debut in 2008. He's made 17 starts for the Cubs in '14 (2-7, 2.83 ERA) with 103 K in 108 IP.
Hammel signed a one-year deal as a free agent during the off-season with Chicago and was impressive in his 17 starts for the North Siders, going 8-5 with a 2.98 ERA. He fanned 104 hitters in 108 innings with a 1.02 WHIP. Both Cub hurlers had been rumored in trade talks for months.
If there was any question about which team had the best minor league prospects in baseball, we can put that argument to rest after this trade. The addition of Russell gives the Cubs three legit Top 10 prospects and while McKinney would be a top 5 prospect on most MLB teams, he may have a hard time cracking the Cubs Top 10.
Unlike the previous two seasons when they dealt starting pitching, Chicago now has some promising arms in place to fill the void. The deal allows the Cubs front office a chance to see what Kyle Hendricks, Dallas Beeler and Tsuyoshi Wada can do on the big stage. The trade may also prolong the Cubs career of left-hander Chris Rusin, a member of the 40-man roster.
And you shouldn't worry about having too many shortstops. I'm sure most GM's would take a team of eight SS and teach one to catch. If you can play short, you can play anywhere, just ask Gary Sheffield, Ernie Banks or Robin Yount to name a few.
Cubs President Theo Epstein told a Chicago radio station during spring training that he wasn't interested in providing "cookies" for Cubs fans; he was more interested in preparing a feast that could be enjoyed every October. Theo's got quite the bag of groceries—time to get to the kitchen and start cooking.
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