We can’t pretend that the biggest news in the Cubs’ world in the last 12 hours isn’t the Samardzija/Hammel trade, and we can’t pretend like it isn’t so big that it pretty much eclipses everything else going on (hence morning Bullets coming later than pretty much ever).
But there’s other stuff going on, so we’ve got to discuss. (Naturally, trade stuff will bleed into everything right now … ) Bullets!
- Yesterday, Cubs starter Jason Hammel was pulled after just 92 pitches, and expressed his displeasure after the game … just kidding. That was going to be the biggest story in the Cubs’ online echo-chamber for a couple days, but now it’s barely a footnote. Hopefully Hammel now understands that the Cubs were simply playing it safe with an important asset – probably all with the Oakland negotiations in the background.
- With Jeff Samardzija’s rotation spot vacated today, as discussed earlier, Carlos Villanueva will do his swing-man thing and start against the Nationals this afternoon. We just got the official announcement of the trade, so we should soon get word on the accompanying 25-man roster moves. Presumably, Chris Rusin will be called up to be a long reliever today, and it’s likely that another reliever or bench bat will be called up until Tuesday, when the Cubs need another starting pitcher.
- Justin Ruggiano is playing very well right now, but he tells Patrick Mooney that he can’t worry about any kind of trade rumor stuff (probably a lot harder today than it was yesterday). With a .271/.351/.466 line (.359 wOBA, 126 wRC+), Ruggiano is actually performing like a quality regular outfielder right now – and that’s without really being platoon-protected. At 32, Ruggiano is probably not the age you’re looking for in a medium-term piece for the Cubs, but consider that they’ve got no outfield regulars set to return next year. Ruggiano has never really been given a full-time shot, even though peripherals suggested there could be a little something there. He’s arb-eligible for two more years, and makes just $2 million this year. That makes him a nice trade piece, but it also makes you wonder if the Cubs are better off keeping him. You have to also consider that the outfield market – in free agency, anyway – looks pretty grim for next year.
- The Cubs have four All-Stars at AAA, but none of them are named Baez or Bryant: it’s Arismendy Alcantara, Kyle Hendricks, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Blake Parker. Each is having a huge season at AAA, and each has been there for the entire season (save for a little up-and-down for Parker). It’s a nice honor for the four guys, each of whom we could see on the Cubs’ roster at some point in the second half.
- Mark Gonzalez reports that the Cubs have released lefty Jonathan Sanchez, who was trying to reinvent himself as a lefty specialist at AAA Iowa, but never got the chance this year as he battled injuries. The Cubs have also assigned AAA reliever Yoanner Negrin to the Boise Hawks, which could mean he’s on his way out.
- Given the holiday and then the huge trade news, I feel like folks are going to miss this stuff, so I’ll point it out here: Dylan Cease has signed, likely completing the Cubs’ excellent draft class. And two more international signings, too.