Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein showed he isn't afraid to take big risks when he dealt his two best pitchers late Friday night.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the details of the trade:
Exact deal: Russell, McKinney and Straily to #Cubs for Samardzija, Hammel.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 5, 2014
As one might expect, the Cubs weren't short-changed in the deal. Experts such as Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus were quick to point out that the Cubs did a good job of adding talent to an already strong farm system:
While most of the attention in this deal might shift to center fielder Billy McKinney and Addison Russell, the real success of the trade hinges on Dan Straily.
Make no mistake, McKinney and Russell should turn out to be instrumental pieces in the Cubs' rebuilding effort. Both are recent draft picks and offer tremendous upside at the plate and in the field. However, neither will address what the Cubs' farm system needs—pitching.
That's where Straily comes in. The 6'2", 215-pound 25-year-old will be expected to help out in that department right now. Rob Neyer of Fox Sports speculates that the Cubs will be bringing up Straily sooner rather than later.
I'd like to know what Theo Epstein sees in Dan Straily that I don't. No idea who's going to give Cubs innings in 2016.— robneyer (@robneyer) July 5, 2014
Okay, I can see Straily as a throw-in, since somebody has to pitch THIS season.— robneyer (@robneyer) July 5, 2014
Neyer's pessimism is warranted. Straily made seven starts for the Athletics this season, and the stats weren't pretty. He went 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA before getting sent back down to Triple-A ball.
Fortunately for Cubs fans, there is an upside to Straily. For all of his struggles last season, his rookie season should offer fans a glimmer of hope. In 27 starts for the Athletics last season he went 10-8 with a respectable 3.96 ERA and finished fourth in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Speaking to MLB Network Radio, Straily spoke about the excitement of moving to a new team:
Straily on Chicago: "A change of scenery, a new environment. I'm definitely excited about it. Excited for the opportunity." #Cubs— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) July 5, 2014
With the change of scenery and, more importantly, a switch to the National League, Straily could be in for a turnaround playing for the Cubs.
After all, one only has to look at the now-departed Jason Hammel to be encouraged that Straily can turn a corner. When the Cubs acquired him before the 2014 season he was coming off a year as a Baltimore Oriole in which he went 7-8 with an ERA of 4.97.
It might be a little unrealistic to believe that Straily will make that drastic of a turnaround this season, but he's definitely a promising piece in the Cubs rotation moving forward.
All statistics and awards voting references via baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.