Fans knew the Cubs would be sellers once again this trade deadline, and with their flurry of deals over the past month, they've added several more key prospects. By dealing solid pieces for future returns, the Cubs have made their next few seasons seem even brighter than before. Here is a breakdown of each trade over the past month:
Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Athletics for SS Addison Russell and OF Billy McKinney
Trade Grade: A+
Clearly the biggest trade the Cubs made, this blockbuster helped turn the Athletics into World Series favorites and made the Cubs' farm system the best in the league. After ace Jeff Samardzija turned down their final five-year, $85 million offer, it was clear he had to be moved. Hammel, on the other hand, was always on the trade block after he signed a one-year contract with the team in the offseason.
Here are a look at Samardzija's numbers before and after the trade so far:
And Hammel's numbers before and after the trade:
Clearly, Hammel is struggling a bit with the move to Oakland. As for Addison Russell, who was this season's preseason No. 4 prospect in baseball, he hasn't struggled anywhere yet.
As a shortstop, Russell figures to push other top prospect Javier Baez to second base or the outfield, while nobody really knows where three-time all star Starlin Castro will end up.
2B Darwin Barney to Dodgers for RHP Jonathan Martinez
Trade Grade: B
With so many infield prospects coming through the team's minor league system, it was clear Barney's days with the Cubs were numbered. After they designated him for assignment, there was no doubt he was headed somewhere else.
Hitting just .230 this season, Barney could never get on a roll at the plate. The fact the Cubs were able to get a decent pitching prospect in return for him is actually a large credit to them. Martinez has a pitching line of 7-5 and a 3.47 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 106.1 innings pitched as a 20-year old in Class-A. Even with Barney's hitting woes, Cubs fans will never forget his incredible run to the 2012 Gold Glove Award at second base.
Player to Be Named Later to Red Sox for LHP Felix Doubront
Trade Grade: B+
This is the first trade the Cubs have made in a while as buyers as opposed to sellers. Obviously the team doesn't expect Doubront to turn the club around in 2014, but they do believe he can be a contributor in the back end of the rotation in the future.
Doubront, who was signed by the Red Sox and Theo Epstein in 2004 as a 16-year old Venezuelan free agent, has shown flashes of brilliance during his up-and-down major league career. He has pitched across five different big league seasons including 2014, with the 2012 and 2013 seasons being his best. In fact, Doubront had a streak of 13 straight games without giving up more than three runs last season.
This season the wheels fell off for the 26-year old, who never quite got on a roll. He was replaced in the rotation and seemed disinterested in the bullpen. Perhaps with a change of scenery, the southpaw can establish himself.
Here's a look at Doubront's steadily declining numbers:
Even though he will begin his Cubs career on the DL with a calf strain, this seems like a relatively safe deal for the Cubs to make. Worst-case scenario is they gave up a low-level prospect. Best-case scenario is Doubront establishes himself and makes the Cubs rotation deeper.
Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell to Braves for C Victor Caratini
Trade Grade: B-
The Cubs did address their biggest positional need (other than pitching) by acquiring the Braves' No. 8 prospect, but giving up Russell in the deal seemed unnecessary. Everyone knew Bonifacio would be on the move when he got off to a hot start this season, but Russell could've been part of the team's future plans.
Russell has proven to be an effective lefty for the Cubs, posting a 3.51 ERA in 44 appearances this season. Now, the Cubs will have to do even more work to rebuild their questionable bullpen.
Meanwhile, Caratini, who was the Braves' second-round pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, has played well so far in professional baseball. This season in Class-A, he's batting .279 with five home runs and 42 RBI.
Now the team has reasonable depth at every position in the minor leagues other than pitching. There's no need to fret over that, though, as Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer continue to reiterate their confidence in building the bullpen and pitching staff through free agency.
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