Today, the Chicago Cubs traded Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles for pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, as well as international bonus money. The Cubs have confirmed the deal, which was originally reported by Keith Law.
Feldman, a free agent after the season, has ostensibly been on the block for a month already thanks to his hot start to the season and the Cubs’ obvious seller mode. With Feldman due to start tonight in Oakland, the Cubs – or the Orioles – decided they didn’t want to wait until after that start to make a move.
There were indications that something was going to happen today with Clevenger, but a big move involving Feldman wasn’t exactly on the docket.
The Cubs’ return in this deal is interesting, and will be subject to extensive analysis in the coming days. In a weak starting pitching market, and with a month to go before the deadline, you would have expected the return on Feldman to be quite solid. Then again, with Feldman a mere rental who is having success as a starter for the first time in a couple years, I could understand the demand being less than Cubs fans might hope.
Although each player will be discussed at greater length soon, here’s your quick take on Arrieta and Strop:
Arrieta, 27, is one of those obviously talented pitchers who has never been able to fully put it together in the big leagues. The Orioles have been dangling him a lot this rumor season (so much so that I started writing a post on him before abandoning it in favor of less speculative endeavors – shame on me), and I think a number of teams were interested in the potential. Despite the poor baseball card numbers in 2012, his FIP was 4.05 and his xFIP was 3.65. I hate to use the old trope, but get him out of the AL East, and see what happens.
Strop, 28, is a reliever who, until this year, had been having great success with the Orioles. His walks have gotten out of control this year (as have the home runs), but the stuff is apparently quite good.
Each of Arrieta and Strop projects to be arbitration eligible for the first time next year, so there’s a whole lot of team control available in this deal. The question is whether each pitcher will reverse course enough for that team control to matter. If they do – if Strop becomes 2012 Strop, and Arrieta becomes the guy scouts say he can be – this is a steal for the Cubs. If not, the Cubs gambled and lost. But that’s what these deals always amount to anyway, right?
And, hey, who knows? Maybe each guy pitches well over the next month and … I’m just sayin’.
As for the bonus money, given the Cubs’ signings already today (and Eloy Jimenez expected), you can understand why it was important for the Cubs to secure that money in short order. The bonus slots being sent to the Cubs are number three and four for the Orioles, which total just under $400,000. As I discussed previously, I’m just not sure how valuable that pool space really is, relative to prospect acquisition. I’m not saying it isn’t good to get the pool money when you can, however.
In the aggregate, this looks like a deal for the long-term future (pool money) and the near-term future (big league arms under team control). A singular top 100 prospect probably would have made me a little happier today, but that doesn’t mean I’m right or that a top 100 prospect was ever going to even be possible.
The Cubs get to do what they want internationally now, and they get a couple upside pitchers with big league experience and team control – that really isn’t too bad when you think about it.
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