By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
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Billy Beane knows his current squad’s best chance to win the World Series now.
He has upped the ante, by acquiring Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs for highly rated SS Addison Russell, SP Dan Straily, and young prospect OF Billy McKinney, with a player to be named later or cash finalizing the deal at a later date.
I like this move…rather I love this move.
The A’s GM saw what happened to his club the last few weeks when matched against the pitching of the Tigers, and knew he had to bolster his team for the stretch – to replace A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker, who both went down to Tommy John Surgeries this campaign.
Bringing in Samardzija, ( with a 2.83 ERA in 17 Game Starts) despite a 2 – 7 record makes sense both for 2014 and 2015 purposes.
With his salary only costing the A’s roughly $2.5 MIL in 2014 (for the former Notre Dame Football Quarterback), it doesn’t break the bank this season.
What is nice, is that Samardzija may cost around $14 – $16 MIL for his last year of Arbitration for next campaign. You could never have him agree to that kind of dough in an open market, and it should fall within what the compensation inclusion would be for pending Free Agents this winter.
Hammel (8 – 5, with a 2.98 ERA in 17 Game Starts in 2014) actually costs the A’s a little more in 2014, at nearly $2.8 MIL remaining for the year on his 1 YR deal signed with the Cubs.
Granted the former Cubs and Orioles hurler will walk at the end of the year, this now is a financial commitment for Oakland at around $5.3 MIL in 2014, and $19 – $22 MIL in total when you factor in the dollars to Samardzija next year.
This is the first big deal that Beane has done mid year since trading for Jermaine Dye all the way back in the 2001 season.
The A’s were going through their powerhouse regime of the big 3 Starting Pitchers of Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson back then – and needed some offensive pop. Now they have an awesome offense and need run prevention.
A lot of fans and experts were mad at the GM when he didn’t sign Bartolo Colon for the same price the Mets did at 2 YRs/$20 MIL after 2013.
The reason the Beane doesn’t do this is the age of that pitcher, plus the flexibility the team needed for a big deal midway through the year.
The A’s didn’t count on losing Parker and Griffin for the year.
This deal also gives Bob Melvin the ability to put Chavez back into the relief core, and go with a rotation of Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray. Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Tommy Milone, (who may be the best #5 starter in the AL now.)
With the Pitching Staff also having added Eric O’Flaherty to the Bullpen, (1.99 ERA from 2010 – 2013 with the Braves), the club could also place Pomeranz back into a late inning role as another Lefty – when he returns from injury.
Don’t think for a minute the club is done making moves either. I am sure Beane and the gang would look to improve the SS situation.
You have to think that 1 of either Parker or Griffin can rejoin the squad at some point next year, and join the ranks of Kazmir, Gray, Samardzija and Millone, and again you could begin the year with Chavez or Pomeranz picking up that 5th spot at least to start.
Depth for 2015 will also certainly be helped in the Relief core based on this move.
With Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, Dan Otero, Evan Scribner, O’Flaherty, Fernando Abad, and Fernando Rodriguez already still under team control, adding Chavez or Pomeranz into that mix for next campaign, will make it easy to lock down the entire staff.
The team still has Utility Infielder Nick Punto for a Team Option in 2015 ($2.75) as an option.
Hiroyuki Nakajima has also made strides in improvement at the AA baseball level in Midland this year, posting a 3 Slash Line of .291/.383/.336.
Once given a 2 YRs/$6.5 MIL deal prior to 2013, maybe he would be in the picture as well.
Doing this right now shows the urgency to win in the next few years.
It will be hard to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes after 2015..
Eventually, Sonny Gray will also be due a hefty raise when he receives the same designation.
Sooner or later the club will be torn down, and a new set of players will come into the Bay Area.
These are not new circumstances to Billy Beane, who has been doing this highwire act for the last 15 years.
By having Samardzija earn about the same cash as Kazmir for the next 15 months, the club also will see some money come off the table once the 2015 season is finished.
Beane has figured out a way to increase his talent on the Rotation – without committing for longer than 2 years, and also not guaranteeing that much money either.
The A’s haven’t been burned on a long term deal because they don’t give them out.
Their GM realized that spending money on pitcher’s for lengthy deals is risky.
I mean he wrote the book of knowing when to walk on pitchers, when he traded Mulder and Hudson, and saw Zito travel across town to the Giants.
I won’t go into the numbers (you can see them here in a previous article I wrote here), but he learned the template – and is sticking to it.
The man drafts and cultivates young talent in his system, acquires a lot of former highly touted prospects from other teams, and lets them all pay for the learning curve (ie..Moss, Donaldson), while he takes a low-risk chance on them – only needing a few of them to pan out to their scouted ability.
This transaction has bought the franchise another 2 chances at the postseason with the most depth out of any ballclub make a run at it, but more importantly, it gives them a fighting chance to matchup pitcher wise.
If at that time, the club says good-bye to both Kazmir and Samardzija, than 2016 should see the team still have Parker, Griffin, Gray, and whomever…Plus their will be 2 new compensation picks added to the fold.
The A’s could have been content to run the rest of the season with what they had, but they can feel the Angels breathing down their neck in the AL West.
This is a great preemptive strike fired out by the team to the rest of baseball, from a club that has the best record – both since the start of 2012 (243 – 165, .596, and also for 2014 at 53 – 33, .617.)
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