scott feldman cubsToday, 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.

  • Tsb

    Read some of the posts when Feldman was signed back in November. A sample: ” Feldman is not good enough (to be traded) to get anything good in return. ” how about giving the new Cubs a chance to suck before claiming this is such a bad deal…

  • Mak

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that the cubs helped themselves by taking another SP off the market. They can trade him too, but certainly increases demand for Garza.

  • Mick

    This feels like the move before the bigger move. The Padres were also very interested in Arrieta, as well as Garza. Trading Clevenger opens up a Catcher spot in the Cubs minor league system. Is an Austin Hedges trade in the works??? Keep in mind Hoyer drafted Hedges out of high school in the 2nd round in 2011 and gave him a $3 million bonus to keep him from going to UCLA.

    • Cyranojoe

      This Hedges idea really gives off a Hoyer/Rizzo vibe, doesn’t it?

      • Mick

        Ok, feel this vibration, Casey Kelly was the Red Sox’s (Theo) 1st round pick in 2008 and was traded to San Diego (Hoyer) in 2010 with Anthony Rizzo for Adrian Gonzalez. My hunch is that the trade will be Hedges, Kelly, and Reymond Fuentes for Garza and Feldman.

        • Cyranojoe

          I dig it.

        • Ryan

          I’m sure you meant Arrietta instead of Feldman.

          • Mick

            Yes, I did. I get a little excited this time of year.

    • mak

      I don’t see the Pads trading Hedges in any Garza/Arrieta deal. He’s a legit top 25 prospect.

  • Soberlarussa
    • Soberlarussa

      if they traded Feldman to get extra cash to send Marmol AND get the IFA signings done….well done boys.

    • ssckelley

      Wait a minute, the Cubs had to give the Dodgers pool money to get them to take Marmol? That makes no sense to me at all!

  • Rich H

    Wow now Torreys as well. Busy day indeed.

  • nkniacc13

    so cubs got some of Balts IFA then turned around and traded some of the IFA in a marmol swap?

  • SenorGato

    I like Arrieta’s arm. He’s big, healthy, throws hard, can strike out ML hitters right now, and still hasn’t peaked in performance. I’ve seen him man handle the Yankees lineup at near full strength, and I’ve seen him get pounded.

    While it sucks that he’s not young or prospect-y enough to pile hopes and dreams on, generally that’s about as good an arm as I could hope for with Feldman. Good to know we won’t have to wait until 2015 to see how a trade is doing too.

    I could see them flipping him considering the Padres rumors…

    • Jonathan

      Arrieta’s arm and stuff are legit but he suffers from playing on the edges of the strike zone which leads to throwing too many pitches, walks, and short outings. This is an Orioles problem if you look at the pitchers that have come up through their system. If you think you can fix this you hold onto him, if not you flip him. Either way he is fairly valuable right now.

  • Josh C.

    Also just read that we sent Marmol to the Dodgers….welp at least that’s over!!1

  • Korean Goat

    Fledman is just a half year rental pitcher for orioles. I think the returns we got are not bad.

  • Tony

    Arrieta is just a piece to the Garza deal. He’s a chip. Theo is surprising us.

    • Patrick

      I hope you’re right. Because if Arrieta sweetens the pot and causes a team to give us some top prospects nobody will be complaining about this deal in the end. I wonder if this means a Garza deal is in the works because you don’t want him to get hurt and defeat the purpose of getting him in the first place.

  • ssckelley

    I would wait and see before passing judgment on this deal. This may be just a stopping point for Arrieta, the Cubs may already be talking to the Padres. Pedro Strop is interesting, he is a converted shortstop who has lost a little control this season after 2 good ones. A change of scenery may be all he needs.

    For those of you expecting a Maholm type return keep in mind that Maholm had a 1 year club option for the next season, something Feldman does not have. After this season Feldman will be a free agent and I do not think the Cubs will miss Clevenger. If the extra 400K in pool money helps the Cubs sign another international kid then the return on this deal could have a fairly high ceiling. Even if the deal stands as is (without another one with the Padres) I think this deal could end up being a potential win for the Cubs.

  • caryatid62

    From Fangraphs:

    “The Cubs, though, have to be thrilled with how this worked out. For the $3 million of Feldman’s 2013 salary that they ended up paying out, they got a half season of quality pitching, then turned that into an interesting young pitching prospect and nearly $400,000 in cash that they can use to sign a premium 16-year-old that could turn into a future franchise player. They bought a couple of lottery tickets who may never pan out, but turning a mid-level free agent into this kind of upside in just a few months time is how good organizations get rebuilt. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and the rest of their front office are doing things the right way.”

    • waittilthisyear

      thank you

    • Cyranojoe

      Awesome little read. Almost as uplifting as Brett’s Make-A-Wish deal. :)

    • 70’scub

      Thank you FO keep winning these “small battles”

  • miggy80

    Does anybody know how the rest of this years salary will be paid to Fledman? With more than a half season to go wouldn’t the Cubs save 3 million in salary?
    Best of Luck to Feldman. He seems like a pretty cool dude.

    • miggy80

      I sware that I read every comment on here be for I asked this question then the post right above answers for me. Doh!

  • Joe

    The question is – Travis Wood or Chris Volstad?

    • Ryan

      Reading “Chris Volstad” again made me sad in my heart.

  • Cory

    Not sure if it was mentioned yet but SD was supposed to be considering Garza or Arrieta any chance we may have cornered the market?

    • rickyp024

      Another comment mentioned this as well. MTR had the Padres as big on both of those guys. Could grab Arrieta to add in with Garza in a deal with SD.

  • SenorGato

    BTW: Nice on moving Torreyes. It’s nothing against him, just happy to clear out some of the fodder and clutter in the system. Never saw him as a future Cub anyway.

  • mjhurdle

    I just dont see how Theo and Co settled for this when it is obvious that one good half-year of Feldman demands at least a Puig + Kershaw level return…

    • Jack Weiland


      You win the internet today, friend.

  • Patrick

    It seems like the general feeling about Arrieta in Baltimore is that he still has some big upside and a change of scenery could really help his cause. Not bad at all if true.

  • Cyranojoe

    Hey, turns out Clevenger is actually happy about the deal — he’s from Maryland, so this is like joining his hometown team, apparently. Good for him! Would make me happy if this is true:

    @jonheymancbs: clevenger, a glen burnie, md. native is “in tears. it’s almost a dream come true,” says agent joshua kusnick. #orioles

  • Joepoe321

    Who gets feldmans spot in the rotation? Villanueva? Baker healthy now? Or some1 in the minors?

  • Mike

    I really like this Feldman trade. Compare Arrieta vs. Feldman in xFIP over their careers (ignoring the seasons when Feldman was primarily a reliever):

    Age 24 – Feldman n/a, Arrieta 5.17
    Age 25 – Feldman 5.09, Arrieta 4.52
    Age 26 – Feldman 4.43, Arrieta 3.65
    Age 27 – Feldman 4.69, Arrieta 4.89
    Age 28 – Feldman n/a
    Age 29 – Feldman 3.87
    Age 30 – Feldman 3.89

    Through age 27, Arrieta looks like the better pitcher, and he’s entering his prime. Feldman will be a free agent and is presumably at the tail end of his prime. Furthermore, Arrieta actually put up a lower xFIP than Feldman last season.

    Arrieta may never put it all together, but he’s got a reasonable shot to be a better pitcher than Feldman, and he’s under club control for another 3.5 seasons.

    Throw in a potentially good reliever in Strop (also under club control for 3.5 more seasons) and the bonus money, and it wouldn’t take much for the Cubs to be big winners in this swap.

    • Kyle

      The fact that sometimes bad pitchers turn into good ones doesn’t make it a great idea to trade for bad pitchers. That’s selection bias.

      • ari gold

        so you’d rather us trade for a bad pitcher in single A? We’re not getting a top 100 for Feldman. Sorry, was never going to happen. We were always going to get a high upside high risk player. The fact that we got 2 at the MLB level is amazing.

        • Kyle

          That’s a very nice strawman you’ve constructed, and you tore him down rather expertly.

  • Colocubfan

    The big thing I notice with Strop is the number of innings pitched last year. For some reason or another, some relievers have problems the year following throwing 70 or more innings the year before. (Camp, Marmol, etc.)

    Just sayin’.

  • JJ

    Is the net result that the Cubs also converted int’l pool money into cash? They acquired about $1.1 million in pool money and then used $210,000 of that to trade Marmol-Guerrier and save current money. No criticism, just interesting.

  • Kygavin

    Dont think Im crazy about the return but if it leads to getting Hedges im a huge fan

  • Adventurecizin’ Justin

    I like the deal. If we are gonna trade Garza, we best have guys with potential who can step in now. Feldman was not going to bring back great prospects. But, he did bring us two guys with pedigrees & potential. Raley & Rusin didn’t do well for us after the sell-offs. If we don’t land a guy like Arrieta… Guess who we would have to stomach again!

    Here’s hoping that they make us talk glowingly of this trade in the near future!!!

  • Voice of Reason

    The Cubs basically got the draft pool money in this trade.
    The prospects are fringe prospects at best. Feldman is only a couple years older than the “prospects” we’re getting in return. Hell, if it wasn’t for the draft pool money they might as well have kept Feldman!
    Obviously Feldman’s value wasn’t where most thought it was.

    The Cubs will make out on Garza.

    Any other trades that the Cubs make will experience the same type of return as the Feldman trade!

    • nkniacc13

      Cubs move a pitcher that was on the market and got back a pitcher that had their name on market along with a bullpen arm that may br flappable. So in other words they basically kept the number of trade chips in pitchers while adding IFA $ and getting some team control with the 2 pitchers they picked up if they don’t move them at the deadline

    • caryatid62

      Except they’d be losing Feldman at the end of the year, and based upon stats like xFIP, Arrieta could be Feldman minus about $5 million dollars next year. Additionally, they could always re-sign Feldman next year if they really had to have him.

      • Kyle

        Really? Because his xFIP doesn’t look that good to me, and xFIP has a way of squeezing everyone toward the middle and making bad pitchers look less bad than they really are.

        • caryatid62

          If that’s what you think, that’s cool. I disagree. Both fluctuate between 1 WAR and -1 WAR (except for one outlier season for Feldman 5 years ago). One has a long-term commitment, but weaker overall stats, and one is a free agent at the end of the year, and has slightly better career numbers.

          There’s not much that is worth debating on this–you believe Feldman was worth an actual prospect, and I don’t. You think Arrieta has no value, and I don’t. That’s about it.

        • Jack Weiland

          Just to be clear: you’re talking about his xFIP in 23.2 innings as if it’s the only available data we have on the guy.

          • Kyle

            No, I’m actually referring to his entire body of work.

            If you want to be clear, ask me, don’t tell me, what I said :)

            • bbmoney

              So Feldman’s 4.45 xFIP tells you something different from Arrieta’s career 4.45 xFIP?

              I kid a little, because Feldman has outpitched his career numbers each of the last three seasons at least as far as FIP and xFIP go. Of course one of those seasons was ~35 innings.

              • Kyle


                Feldman’s tells me that he was a terrible pitcher early in his career and got better in the last three years.

                Arrieta’s tells me that xFIP rates him as a pretty bad pitcher right now, and his high BB rate puts him in a category that xFIP tends to overrate.

                • nkniacc13

                  I think getting Arrieta oout of the AL East will help. I think he may have been promoted sooner than he was ready and after getting thumped lost confidence and started pitching away from contract

                  • Kyle

                    He’s moving to a tougher division than the AL East.

            • Jack Weiland

              His xFIP in 2012 was a 3.65. But I guess that’s garbage and Feldman’s 3.89 this year is magical. Or something.

              • Kyle

                Yes, that’s what I said.

                I said that Feldman’s 2013 and Arrieta’s 2012 were the only factors I cared about, and simultaneously didn’t notice that this analysis skewed in Arrieta’s favor.

                • Jack Weiland

                  You’re acting as if the return for Feldman should be way more than the return for Arrieta, who have the exact same career xFIP. Not to mention Feldman is a free agent after this season and Arrieta has years of team control left. Or that Arrieta is considerably younger.

                  Also you’re acting like IFA pool money is nothing, and could be acquired for Steve Clevenger, who is actually below replacement level.

                  Care to clarify? You haven’t said much beyond “He throws hard and is terrible” … which is dumb. Arrieta is an upside play. You can THINK the return should have been bigger all you want, but you have no idea what is actually being offered, or what Feldman’s actualy market value is.

                  • Kyle

                    Yes, I am acting like all of those things.

                    I am acting as if Feldman, who improved as a pitcher in the last few years, is better than his career xFIP, while Arrieta, who is a high-BB pitcher, is overrated when looking at his career xFIP.

                    I’m acting as if IFA pool money is nearly worthless, because it should be, and that Clevenger, who has a ZIPS projection of slightly above replacement, should have netted probably a good million of it (but I’m not really that worried about what we got for Clevenger).

                    • Jack Weiland

                      Could not disagree more. Have a nice day.

                    • bbmoney

                      Feldman’s a better pitcher than Arrieta right now. But I still don’t hate this deal because Feldman is only around for another three months.

                      I understand that’s not the only consideration, and it’s just as much about the opportunity cost, and thinking we could have gotten better players/prospects back. But I’m not convinced 3 months of Feldman was worth much more.

                    • Eternal pessemist

                      I like the way Feldman has pitched and it looks just as good with the eyeball test as the stats. I wonder how much pitchers improve during the “prime” of their careers, and if that isn’t one more reason to love this deal.

        • jt

          I don’t need no stinkin’ xFIP
          The guy has a BB/9 of 4 MLB and 3.7 MiLB.
          He doesn’t throw it where he is aiming.
          I read where he throws a FB, hard slider, hard curve and change.
          That is a lot of pitches to not command.

  • Bilbo161

    Interesting that we now have some arms ready for when we make more trades that may deplete our current pitching staff. I like the trade for that reason as well as the international pool increase.

  • fromthemitten

    Feldman doesn’t have a future with the team these guys could have an immediate impact. Good deal. Who goes in the bullpen? Maybe there’s another deal in the near future…

  • jt

    I’m wondering what Kyle Hendricks has to prove in AA and what he has to learn in AAA.
    His stuff is what it is and he already attacks the k zone. I just think it is time to see what he has to offer. I’d call him up to replace Feldman and allow Arrieta to work on command of a couple of pitches as a 7th inning guy in the pen. Arrieta has only tossed 72 IP (MiLB and MLB) in 2013 so that would allow him to pitch winter ball to improve command. By ST Arrieta and Hendricks could define what kind of future they may have (if any).

  • andoalex

    Obviously it isn’t 2009 anymore but Arrieta was ranked 36 in prospect rankings while Shark was #50. So the potential is there. Arrieta is assigned to Iowa, let him pitch down there for a few months under Derek Johnson and see if we can harness some of that potential. Also, getting out of the AL in general, particularly the AL East, is never a bad thing.